Learn About Tempeh
tempeh (tem-pay): ancient food for the 21st century

Tempeh is a fermented food traditionally made from soybeans.  It originated in the islands of Indonesia and is a staple of the Indonsian diet today.  Tempeh has become popular in other parts of the world because of its impressive nutritional composition, desirable firm texture, and earthy flavor.  It is very easy to cook and is a perfect substitute for meat in a vegetarian diet.

How it's made

Soybeans (or other legumes) are split and boiled.  The beans are then dried and inoculated with spores of the culture Rhizopus oligosporus, which is the main active ingredient of the tempeh-making process (think of it as the yeast you'd add while baking bread).  The inoculated beans are then incubated at around 88 degrees F for about 30 hours, or until the tempeh has become a dense white "cake."

After the tempeh has been removed from incubation, it is frozen to preserve its active enzymes and freshness.

Origins of The Tempeh Shop
our roots

The Tempeh Shop was founded by Jose Caraballo.  Here's his story:

I first tried tempeh back in the 70's at "The Farm" a spiritual-vegetarian community in Tennessee. I got some starter and basic instructions there. Then when I moved to Gainesville I started making it for my family and friends, but as more people tried it, I had no choice but to keep increasing production. And that's how I became over the years "the local tempeh maker". I have been making tempeh for the last 30 years.

In 2006, Jose's son, Damian, began working with the family business and became intrigued by the fermentation process and the uniqueness of tempeh.  He decided to learn more about the science behind food and the food industry and in 2013, Damian was awarded a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

In 2007, The Tempeh Shop became certified organic, making it the first - and only - certified organic tempeh maker in all of the southern United States.  We continue to uphold the tradition and highest standards of the Organic Seal.

how to order tempeh from us

We specialize in selling bulk quantities of tempeh and the best way to order is through this website. Visit the Buy section to see prices and details.

We ship tempeh frozen anywhere in our shipping area (Florida and Southern Georgia) with free shipping.

Once you have placed your first order, we offer several convenient ways for you to reorder:

  • Automatic recurring ordering is available when you checkout. You can schedule the order to be placed weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.  You can check when your next automatic order is scheduled by choosing Recurring Orders from the My Account menu above.
  • Quick reordering over the phone. We have an automated phone reordering system - simply call (352) 275-5496 for fast reordering. Note: you must have a credit card saved in order to use this phone system. You can save a credit card during checkout when you place an order.

Please note that we do not ship on and the day before these holidays:

  • New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independance Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Our Guarantee

We want to make sure you are completely satisfied with our product.  We take a lot of pride in our work and we hope you enjoy cooking and eating our tempeh as much as we do.  If for some reason you are not satisfied with the product or our service, please let us know and we will be happy to refund your purchase.

Handling Instructions
what to do after you have ordered

So a box of tempeh just showed up at your door, now what?  The tempeh should arrive cold; it's okay if it's not completely frozen.

Put the sealed bag in the freezer ASAP!

Don't open the bag yet - just get it in the freezer as soon as it arrives.  The tempeh needs to be frozen before you open the bag and let air in.  After it has chilled in the freezer, you can open the bag and take a block or two out and put them in the refrigerator for quick prepping.

Now head over to our Cook section for some recipe inspiration.

Q & A

How is your tempeh different than commercial tempeh?

The way beans are dried after cooking is probably the most significant difference between factory made tempeh and traditional tempeh. The factory uses a centrifuge while the traditional shop like ours uses air to dry the beans. Air drying is slower but allows for a better drying and introduces certain beneficial bacteria that improve the quality of the final product just like with sourdough bread. It has been found that these bacteria are responsible for the B-vitamins in traditional tempeh which are absent in the commercial variety.

What are the black spots on tempeh?

When the tempeh organism (Rhizopus oligosporus, a cousin of the mushroom) reaches maturity, it produces black spores (their seeds). There is nothing wrong with this. They are an indication that the fermentation is complete. They are similar to the blue spots seen on blue cheese. Tempeh connoisseurs praise blackened tempeh for its richer flavor and subtle qualities.

How long does tempeh keep?

Tempeh will keep practically indefinitely in the freezer. In the refrigerator it will keep for about a week before it starts degrading.

An easy way to remember: 10 days in the fridge, 10 months in the freezer (hopefully you'll eat it before then though).

What is the best way to thaw frozen tempeh?

Steaming is the best and quickest way to thaw tempeh. It also allows tempeh to be stored in the fridge longer. Leaving it to thaw over night in the refrigerator is second best. Make sure that tempeh is sealed inside a plastic bag to prevent wetness due to condensation.

How can you tell when tempeh has spoiled?

Your sense of smell is your best detector. Any unpleasant smell indicates that bacteria has invaded your tempeh. But don't worry this bacteria is not toxic and won't make you sick, it's just unpleasant. In Indonesia some chefs even use a little bit of rotten tempeh (tempeh bosok) to flavor other foods.

Can tempeh be eaten raw?

Yes. There is nothing wrong with eating it raw. However, when raw tempeh is coated with any oily mix like mayonnaise moisture gets sealed in and air gets sealed out and this creates a favorable environment for some anaerobic bacteria which will give tempeh an unpleasant taste. So, when preparing a chicken or tuna-like salad, first steam the tempeh well (20 minutes).

Is raw tempeh considered a "rawfood"?

This is subject to interpretation. Even though the original soybeans were cooked, in essence, by the end of fermentation, there is not much left of them because the tempeh culture has "eaten" the beans and incorporated it's nutrients and amino acids into its body. So eating uncooked tempeh is more like eating raw mushrooms than cooked soybeans.

Can tempeh be re-frozen?

Yes, but its texture will degrade a little. If the tempeh has thawed out and you cannot use it within a week then steam it. This will extend its shelf live and you won't have to refreeze it. On the other hand, if texture is not important, like if you are going to mash it up anyway, then refreezing is not a problem.

Does tempeh have B-12?

There is controversy about this. Scientists are not in agreement as to whether the B-12 found in some tempeh is real or false (one that cannot be absorbed by humans). If you are vegan (strict vegetarian), to be on the safe side, you should not rely on tempeh as your main source for this important vitamin.

What is in your opinion the most appealing way to serve tempeh for the non-vegetarian and average mainstream American customer?

Tempeh cut in thin slices and deep-fried. That's also the most popular way sold in the streets of Indonesia (in the US it would be a perfect snack to have with a beer). Also grilled and served in a bun like a burger.

Is it hard to make tempeh at home?

The best tempeh in the world is the one you make at home and eat fresh and it's really easy to make. The only important requirement is to have a warm space to incubate it at 88 degrees (30C) ; that's the ideal temperature for tempeh. I can email you instructions, just ask me.