Recently a reader asked me how to properly press tofu and why to even bother in the first place. So naturally, I decided that it was time for The Ultimate Guide to Pressing Tofu!!!!!!! (I get WAY too excited by these types of things).
There is the DIY tofu pressing method and there are store-bought tofu presses. Believe it or not, I have never actually used a store-bought tofu press, so I thought that not only would I provide you with this handy dandy guide of the how's and why's of pressing tofu, but I would compare different tofu presses to see which one is the champion of tofu presses! (In my opinion anyway).
Here we go! Are you ready for it? Get excited!
Boom! So ok, Sam, what are you talking about, what's with this tofu pressing nonsense?
Why press tofu?
When I say press tofu, I literally mean pressing tofu! When working with extra-firm tofu, you can press the tofu to squish out as much water as possible. Watery tofu = bland mush. So when you do press water out of tofu, it allows the tofu more room to suck up marinades and helps get the tofu crispier when frying it. Omnomnomn. This technique can help bring your tofu game from good to fantastic!
When to press tofu?
In my recipes, be sure to only press the tofu when I instruct you to. If you press tofu for recipes when not required it can mess with the end result of the dish. When preparing your own recipes, you should only press extra-firm (my preference) or firm tofu. Any other kind of tofu is too soft, and should not be pressed... unless you just want tofu mush, which I'm guessing you don't.
So off to the tofu races! Check out my video where I compare the tofu presses, and see who the winning tofu press is!
Tah dah!! I hope you enjoyed The Ultimate Tofu Press Off! In case you missed it, or in case you aren't into watching tofu videos, I have broken down the methods below, with the pros and cons, and where to purchase each press.
The DIY Method
How it works:
Wrap the tofu in a clean dish towel. Balance a cutting board on top of the wrapped tofu, and put something heavy on top of that such as cans or a cast iron skillet.
- It's free! You can do this with stuff you already have lying around the house.
- It takes as little as 15 minutes but you can press as long as you want.
- It doesn't get as much water out of the tofu as a store-bought tofu press does.
- It can be tricky to balance everything, and probably wouldn't be easy to assemble in the fridge to press the tofu overnight.
EZ Tofu Press
How it works:
The tofu is placed between two strong plastic boards, then you screw down the boards to start compacting the tofu. The screws need to be tightened every couple of minutes over the course of 5 to 15 minutes.
- It's the cheapest store-bought tofu press, currently selling for $19.99 on amazon.com
- It's the fastest tofu press and takes only 5 to 15 minutes to press tofu.
- When I tested it, it flattened the tofu the most compared to the other pressing methods. (See the video above).
- Adjustable pressure. As you screw it down yourself, and can continue to press the tofu as much or as little as you like.
- If you aren't very gentle (like I wasn't), it can crack the tofu. If you want the tofu to hold shape (in cubes or slices), the cracks might make the tofu pieces fall apart.
- You have to keep adjusting the press every few minutes.
- You have to put a plate or something underneath to catch the water.
How it works:
There are three pieces to this press. The lid, the strainer, and the water catching container. The tofu is placed in the strainer, then the lid is placed on top. The lid is secured with rubber bands that press the tofu down firmly, then you snap the handles in place which adds even more pressure on the tofu.
- Not the cheapest tofu press, but still not too expensive, costing $29.95 on amazon.com.
- This is the only tofu press of the three that comes with a container to catch water. A big plus in my mind as I like things tidy.
- The compact design makes it east to store in the fridge. When you come home from the grocery store, put your tofu in there, and then the tofu will be good to go when you are ready to cook.
- When I did the test comparing them all, it seemed to get the most amount of water out of the tofu, without cracking the tofu (but note, that it did take the longest amount of time).
- Adjustable pressure. With three different notches, you can press the tofu more or less. I originally had the tofu on the first notch, but once it pressed for awhile, I was able to bump it up to the second notch to press the tofu even more.
- The rubber bands can be a bit fidgety to secure.
- It takes the longest amount of time to press tofu (2 hours to overnight).
How it works:
The tofu is placed in the container and is pressed down by the 4.5 pound top. Easy peasy.
- Beautiful, simple, chrome design. Pretty enough to display on your counter.
- Very simple to use, just place the weighted top on top of the tofu.
- Comes with a lifetime guarantee.
- Takes 15 to 30 minutes to press tofu (although I think it would benefit to press longer).
- Would make a lovely gift.
- Requires a plate or something to catch the water.
- Expensive, costing $105.00 on amazon.com.
- The pressure is not adjustable like with the EZ Tofu Press and Tofuture.
Tofuture! While I loved playing with all of the presses, the compact design of the Tofuture tofu press won me over. It's very neat and tidy, dishwasher safe, and simply works well. Now I just pop my tofu in there when I get home from the grocery store, and I find it keeps well for 1 to 3 days. Maybe even longer if you remember to drain off the water and give it a quick rinse once in awhile. The longer the tofu presses, the more I can bump up the pressure, so by the time I get to cooking with the tofu, it is SUPER pressed!
It does take longer to press, however, so if you are looking for a last minute tofu press, one of the other presses might be best as they are faster.
I hope you enjoyed The Ultimate Guide to Pressing Tofu! If you have any questions or I missed anything, feel free to drop me a comment below.
Also Sam says
Do you see a tofu- and/or soymilk-making tutorial in the future? If anyone can take the fuss out of this most extremely fussy process, it's you...
Jess @ IDTLC Support says
Thanks for the suggestion, it's on the request list!
Thank you, very helpful.
I love tofu. Right out of the package, unflavored, whatever. I also like it cooked and so forth. Just saying.
Been vegan since 1986. Didn't even know therre was a word for it. Just developed from my personal beliefs.
So tofu. Pressed? Yes, for sure.
I have found that if you freeze the tofu first, then press the thawed block, the texture is even firmer than if you press the thing right out of the package.
Mostly I just use two plates and press it over the sink. Probably don't get as much moisture out as you do, but it has always worked for me.
I was checking out your recipes and you made me so hungry I had to raid the fridge.
Kat - the other 1 says
I usually get the 8 oz blocks of tofu. To press I just stick it in a sandwich bag, leave about 2 inches open, hold that end pointing down into the sink and press - with my hands.
Press more carefully if wanting to slice or cube, but if tearing into small chunks anyway, squeeze away.
Then seal the bag and squish into chunks. (If needed.)
Feel free to wash and reuse the bag(s), or use the reusable bags some places sell now.
This way I actually cook and eat the tofu instead of it just waiting for me to plan a four hour cooking day (ugh). Like that's gonna happen (2x a week? Yeah, rightttt...).
Anyway, quickest method I've come across. 🙂
Dave Big Chief says
I have the Tofuture. It is awesome. I usually press raw tofu in the refridgerator for a couple of days. It comes out perfect for roasting in the oven then using in a japanese curry.
Amber Bradley says
I come to your blog regularly for recipes & for information because you’re so thoughtful and awesome! I was soooo happy to find this tofu pressing guide because I have always pressed my tofu with the at home method and ALWAYS gotten cracked tofu wondering how do I press tofu AND achieve shape (sad face)! So THANK YOU for delivering —per usual!
That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
Short but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing
this one. A must read post!
I've always loved your recipes since delving into veganism last year. I'm trying to stick to it better now while I have some extra time to explore more recipes. I know this video is a couple years old. Have you found any other tofu press machines/methods that you like better since then? I like the Tofuture and think it would be great for the kinds of recipes I like, but I want to try to press more tofu if I have to do it for so long. Do you have any tips for pressing more tofu than one block of tofu at once, besides buying multiple Tofutures?
Sam Turnbull says
Tofuture is still my favourite! I have two of them. But if you don't want to purchase more you could always do the cutting board method. 🙂
Very nice article about tofu, really helpful
Sam Turnbull says
Glad you enjoyed 🙂
Love your videos! This is the best tofu press 🙂 !
Big pot, big sieve, flat casserole dish (or any other flat thingimabob) and tins.
Free and can handle big chunks of tofu (I buy 960 gram units)
Sam Turnbull says
Haha! That's quite the contraption 🙂
LOL Shay that’s awesome!