Home made Pumpkin seed tofu
I’be been really into tofu lately. And not just any tofu, but home made tofu! Aaaaand not just any home made tofu… but pumpkin seed tofu aka pumfu! This pale green, creamy and luxurious one ingredient tofu is packed with protein, and comes together without any added coagulant. All you need to do is heat some homemade pumpkin seed milk, and suddenly you’ve got a pot full of pumpkin seed tofu curds + some delicious whey. It really is just like magic! If you’re as much into tofu and cooking experiments as I am, this is your recipe.
I discovered pumpkin seed tofu (or “pumfu” – short for pumpkin seed tofu) thanks to something I usually consider an enemy: the algorithm! The recipe popped up in my list of suggested YouTube videos in Autumn, and I was instantly intrigued. The channel in question is Mary’s Test Kitchen, and the recipe can also be found on her website. It took me a while to finally try out homemade pumpkin seed tofu, but once I did it was literally love at first bite!
Pumpkin seed tofu is not only absolutely delicious, but also a source of protein for vegetarians and vegans who have soy or nut allergy. As far as I’m aware, pumpkin seed allergy is a super rare case 🙂 But I really would serve it to anyone, regardless of their dietary needs. There something about homemade tofu that just makes it so special! And when it comes to homemade tofu, pumfu is a relatively easy one. Dont’ get me wrong though, it does require multiple steps and some time – I would not make it a part of our everyday meal! And you’ll end up with a pile of dishes to clean, too…
Special occasion tofu
So: pumfu is very much a special occasion tofu in my books. There’s apparently a store bought version of pumfu in the US – but it seems to be a bit pricey, and I have no idea how widely available it is. Definitely more available than in Finland though, that’s for sure!
Step 1: soak some pumpkin seeds and blend them well.
Our daily pumfu
My infatuation with the magical process of homemade pumpkin seed tofu has been so intense, that regardless of those piles of dishes and the time and effort required, at some point we were eating pumfu almost daily. The process is simple:
- Soak pumpkin seeds overnight
- Rinse, measure, and blend with double the volume of water.
- Extract the pumpkin seed milk by sieving the blended seeds through a nut milk bag
- Heat the pumpkin seed milk and watch the magic happen!
- Ladle the tofu curds into a tofu mold, press, and wait…
- …aaaaand a block of pumfu is ready for whatever cooking shenenigans you can think of!
Even though there’s no specific equipment needed to make pumfu, I eventually even ended up purchasing a tofu press / mold, to make my blocks of tofu actual blocks instead of blobs.
How to use pumpkin seed tofu?
I’ve been using pumpkin seed tofu mainly in dishes that aren’t too spicy or strong in flavor. I don’t want the delicate aroma of pumfu to be lost in the dish! Pumfu is yummy “raw” – simply seasoned with some salt and pepper, or lightly marinated. I like to add it to salads this way! But it’s also delicious pan seared – it crisps up well and has a wonderful contrast between the crispy edges and the soft interios. I also love to simmer it in sauces and soups. The creamy texture becomes super silky that way!
I’ve been storing my pumpkin seed tofu without submerging it in whey/water, as Mary suggests, and the longest it’s kept has been about four days. I suppose it might last longer too though? I have yet to try freezing pumfu, but I’d imagine there should be no problem in that. If you’ve got some experience on that, do let me know!
Step 2: Squeeze out all the pumpkin seed milk! You’ll get an awesome forearm workout + a batch of pumpkin seed fibers, which can be used in breads, veggie patties and such.
Step 3: Heat the pumpkin seed milk and watch the magic happen! Suddenly you’ve got tofu curds, which you can then ladle in to a tofu press (or a sieve lined up with a cheese cloth).
Step 4: Press the pumfu for a couple of hours or over night, then reveal the beauty! I mean LOOK AT THAT COLOUR!Step 5: Get cooking! And don’t forget to also use the whey. It goes well into bread dough, soups, stews…
Project pumpkin seed tofu
Pumpkin seed tofu has been such a fun and rewarding process for me, that I warmly recommend it to everyone who’s into tofu and experimental cooking. Be warned though: the recipe is obviously a labor of love! You’ll have a pile of dishes to deal with in the end, and the workout you’ll get from squeezing out the pumpkin seed milk is real! But unless you’re doing it daily and in super large amounts, it’s kind of fun, too. And like it or not, it’s actually the part of the process that has to be done well. Otherwise, your milk won’t be thick and creamy enough to turn into pumfu!
For a project that can take up to 24 hours, pumfu will likely not become a permanent feature for our everyday meals. But the weather really is awful in Helsinki these days… So I might as well stay indoors and whip up a batch of pumfu after another, until it’s finally Spring 😀
Psssst! In case you skipped to the recipe, note that the source for it is Mary’s Test Kitchen! Below I’m explaining the process as I do it and in my own words. I highly recommend you to watch Mary’s video on YouTube for added visuals of the process however!
Pumpkin seed tofu aka pumfu
- fine mesh strainer or two, or three
- cheese cloth / nut milk bag or one of those reusable fruit bags made of the kind of fabric that has tiny holes in it - that's actually what I use!
- tofupress / mold not obligatory but handy
- cooking thermometer not obligatory but a nice thing to have if you're a control freak like me
- slotted spoon
- 300 g raw hulled pumpkin seeds
- Soak the pumpkin seeds in plenty of fresh water for 10 hours or overnight. Our indoor temperature is about 19°C so I leave the seeds on the counter, but if you're living in a warmed climate it's best to soak the seeds in the fridge.
- Rinse the seeds in a fine mesh strainer, letting the excess water to run out. Measure the volume of the soaked seeds and add them into a blender. Add in double of the volume in fresh water. (So: if you end up with 5 dl of soaked seeds, you need a liter of water)
- Blend the seeds until you won't feel too much grittiness between your fingers, if you rub the mixture between your fingers. It's super important to get really break down the seeds well so when in doubt, keep on blitzing just to be on the safe side. Depending on your blender you might need to do this in 2 batches. I do this in one batch and since my blender isn't super powerful it takes about 2-3 minutes to really break down the seeds.
- Rinse and wring dry a cheese cloth or the nut milk bag (or whatever you're using) and set into a big colander/sieve, set over a large pot. Pour the seed mixture to the pot through the cloth. Once most of the liquid has run through to the pot, it's time to get a workout!
- Gather the edges of the cheese cloth / nut milk bag etc and start squeezing the fibers to extract all the pumpkin seed milk out of them. Keep squeezing until nothing really comes out anymore. The fibers that are left behind should feel sort of dry and kind of like play dough 🙂 Save the fibers, they can be used in bread dough, veggie patties and such.
Pumpkin seed tofu:
- Now you have a pot of pumpkin seed milk - let's turn it into pumpkin seed tofu!
- Start heating the milk in a large pot, while constantly calmly scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula to prevent anything from burning. If you own a cooking thermometer, you can put it into the pot to better keep track of the temperature. But even if you don't have one, you won't miss out on the moment when the milk suddenly separates into tofu curds and whey! This happens when the temperature is about 65-70 °C (150-160°F).
- Keep heating whilst very gently stirring the pot, until you reach 82°C (180°F) and the whey is turning kind of clear. NOTE: while you stir, be careful of breaking any of the tofu curds. You want them to be as big as possible!
- Remove the pot from the heat and while you wait for it to cool off a bit, line a tofu mold (or a sieve) with a cheese cloth (wash it and wring it dry first). When the tofu curds and whey are not boiling hot anymore, you can start ladling the tofu curds into the tofu mold / sieve with a slotted spoon. Try to spread them out evenly. In the end you can pour the whey through a fine mesh strainer to catch those remaining tofu curds. Save the whey!
- Even out the curds a bit if necessary, then fold over the sides of the cheese cloth. If you're using a tofu press, put the lid on and start pressing. Collect the whey from the bottom of the press! If you're using a sieve, put it in a pot to collect the whey. Put a plate / small chopping block over the tofu and add a weight on top. Leave to press for at least 3-4 hours, or over night in the fridge, depending on the consistency and moisture content you're looking for.
- Once your tofu has been pressed enough, it's time to get cooking! When it's pressed for less time it stays moist and soft, and is wonderful in salads. You can season it with just some salt and pepper, or soak it in a marinade. When you press it for longer, you can crisp it up by pan searing it (or air frying, like Mary suggests). I also love to add it to soups, stews and such, where it gets this incredibly silky consistency.
By the way…
There’s a step In the original recipe by Mary’s Test Kitchen which I’ve left out. I haven’t removed the starches from the milk, like Mary suggests! Why? Because I forgot. When the result was so good the first time, I haven’t bothered with the step later either. I don’t know how it would change the result, but I’ll try it next time so I can fill you in, too! I do however have an experience with the starches in another context… Some were clearly mixed into the whey. After a few days in the fridge, the starches settled at the bottom of the why bottle, and they did NOT want to budge after that! So be warned! I had to actually throw that bottle out in the end…