Use Your Dehydrator to Make Tofu Jerky

Tofu Jerky

It's easy to make beef jerky in a food dehydrator, and making tofu jerky is easy too. You can use the same marinades you use for meats and it'll work great. Tofu is bland if eaten plain, but that means it has room to absorb anything you put it near. So it does really well in a marinade.

The soy block makes a good vegetarian jerky for those who prefer not to eat animals.

Tofu Varieties

When shopping for tofu, you have several choices. The ones in the aspetic packaging are usually the silken or soft kind. Choose the blocks in the tub of water, extra firm. Firm and medium firm work okay too, but the softer tofus have more water content so they'll take longer to dehydrate.

Pressing Tofu

The first steps do with your tofu are draining and pressing. To do this, slice open the plastic and drain the tofu over your sink. Then wrap the tofu in paper towels and place in a dish. Then put a heavy object like a large book or canned foods on top. Let it sit for 30-60 minutes.

If you don't want to wait that long, you can speed it up by slicing the tofu into 4 pieces and doing the above. You should press for at least 10 minutes, but the longer the better.

You're going to be soaking the soy block in a marinade, so it's good to get the water out. Also, you'll be able to run the food dehydrator for a shorter time if it's drier from pressing.

Jerky Marinades

When I make tofu jerky at home, I only use low-sodium Chinese soy sauce. It tastes good to me and it's very easy.

After pressing, you want to marinate the tofu block for about an hour. Some recipes say to marinate overnight, but I haven't found the taste is improved very much so it's not worth waiting.

Tamari soy sauce is a Japanese version that's darker and has a richer taste. You can also try combining any or all of the following to make custom marinades: liquid smoke, garlic powder, honey, sugar. Be creative. It's hard to mess up.

Marinate in the refrigerator. Before you dry, let it come up to room temperature so that it's not so cold when it enters the dehydrator. That can decrease how long you have to run the food dehydrator.

Dehydrating the Tofu

I slice the tofu into 1/4" slices. I haven't used a madonline for this because I'm afraid of breaking the tofu. It's easy enough to get even slices with a large knife. They'll shrink to about 2/3 its original size. I've noticed the smaller the pieces, the more they'll shrink.

One block of tofu will use about 2 trays, but I have 9 trays, so I use up as many of them as I can. I figured it's better to use all the drying space that's available.

These are photos of a few slices before dehydration:

Tofu Slices

Marinated Tofu Slices

Run the dehydrator at 155 F for 3-6 hours. After 3 hours, check them. The tofu should be dry when you press on a piece. The tear a piece in half and check for moistness. How long it takes is different depending on the external temperature, humidity, etc.

At that time, if they're not dry enough to turn off the dehydrator, I like to flip the slices over, one by one. You may notice the bottom is a little moist. Just let the dehydrator do its job.

And after about 4 hours:

Dehydrated Tofu Jerky

Done? Turn off the dehydrator and let the tofu jerky cool for about 10 minutes.

Notes on Tofu

One other thing you can try is freezing your tofu and then letting it thaw before the drain/press step. It gives the tofu a different, chewier texture. Cooks sometimes do this when preparing tofu for cooking, and it's something you can try with dehydration too.

To store, wait until they're completely cooled off. Then put them in glass or plastic containers that are airtight. Keep the container in a cool, dry place, and the jerky will store for about a month.

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