Can Tofu Be Eaten Raw? – Grow Your Pantry

Can Tofu Be Eaten Raw?

by Susan Grey on August 14, 2019

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Can you eat tofu raw? Yes, you can eat raw tofu. During the manufacturing process, the soybeans are cooked. So technically the tofu isn't actually raw. Meaning consuming 'raw' tofu is fine. 

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What Is Raw Tofu?

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Raw tofu, also called bean curd, is a type of food made by coagulating soy milk. After coagulation, the result is curd that is then pressed and sold as white blocks. High in iron and calcium, the product features a bland taste making it ideal for seasoning and marinating to suit a variety of dishes. Tofu may also contain high levels of magnesium or protein as depends on the coagulants used during the manufacturing process. 
Before you eat tofu raw it is always advisable to press it. This drains the water from it to improve the taste. You can press the tofu between paper towels which absorb the extra water. Place a slightly heavy object on top of the tofu so that more water is drained out. Always remember to press the tofu for around 20 minutes for the best results before consumption. 

Risks Associated With Eating Raw Tofu

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The soybeans that are used to manufacture tofu are usually cooked. This implies that raw tofu is typically safe for consumption. Despite this, there are certain risks associated with eating raw tofu that you ought to know. Though rare, in certain instances eating raw tofu can bring about foodborne illnesses (link):
  • Tofu may get contaminated if the manufacturer uses unclean equipment during the production process.
  • Pathogens from other food such as raw chicken and raw fish may contaminate the tofu through cross contamination; for example, when you use the same chopping board for cutting.
  • The tofu may also become contaminated by bacteria and mold when in standing water for a prolonged period of time.
When you get food poisoning from tofu, you may develop signs and symptoms such as:
  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
In severe cases, food contamination could lead to death. Ensure that you call your doctor as soon as possible when you suspect you have gotten food poisoning. Never forget to examine the tofu for any signs that it has already expired. 

Measures To Reduce The Risks Associated With Eating Raw Tofu

Always store tofu properly to avoid contamination. When you buy tofu packages, some require refrigeration immediately while others may require refrigeration once opened.
How to store open tofu:
  • Once opened, place the tofu in an airtight container and submerge in fresh water and store in the refrigerator.
  • You need to change the water daily to keep the tofu fresh and free from bacteria and mold.
  • You can freeze the tofu in its original packaging for it to last for about five months.
  • Ensure you always prepare your raw tofu with clean utensils and on clean surfaces to avoid cross contamination from other food such as raw meat. It may also help to wash the tofu before preparation to remove excess sodium.
  • Never leave tofu unrefrigerated since it may become contaminated by pathogens, especially when it is leftover. Leftovers may be contaminated by pathogens when left at temperatures of between 40 and 140 degrees F (4 and 60 degrees C).

Manufacturing Process (Why You Can Eat It Raw)

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1. The process of manufacturing tofu begins by soaking, grinding, removing husks, and finally cooking the soybeans.
2. Through filtration, soy milk, and soy pulp (Okara) are separated.
3. After the filtration process, coagulants including magnesium and sulfates are then added to the soy milk to separate curds from the whey. 
4. The soy milk is then put into molds such that the carbohydrate laded whey starts to drain off. 
5. The result is now tofu that resembles a soft cake that is cut into cubes and submerged underwater in individual packaging or bulk. The tofu can be processed in a wide range of consistencies from a super soft, firm, extra firm, as well as silken varieties to suit the diverse needs of consumers.
6. Tofu in its packaging is pasteurized at about 180 degrees F (82 degrees C) to increase its shelf life to around thirty days. The tofu is always kept refrigerated under 45 degrees F (8 degrees C) so that it remains fresh before it is distributed. The process is indeed thorough, making the tofu safe for eating when raw. 

Can You Eat Different Varieties Raw?

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Silken Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
Silken tofu is commonly referred to as Japanese style tofu. It has a high water content and is creamy. When you try scooping the silken tofu with a fork or just your hands, it may end up falling. Blend it into smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, dips as well as puddings (link). 

Smoked Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
A pleasant smoky taste, this is best served in a cold salad. This variety of tofu is usually smoked over beechwood to give it a fantastic aroma. Smoked tofu tastes good when eaten raw in a winter stew, stuffed into sandwiches or a sweet summer salad.

Egg Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
Egg tofu is a Japanese style steamed tofu that is made using eggs together with dashi. This tofu is steamed during processing until it becomes firm. The product does not contain tofu and nigari, just like almond tofu and sesame tofu, as typical in most types of tofu. It can also be eaten raw, just remove the excess water and enjoy.

Seasoned Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
You can find tofu sold in pre seasoned forms that you can quickly eat as soon as you open the packet. Season tofu is available in many flavors such as tamari and tomato. This type of tofu is available in a solid form, which is also suitable for eating raw.

Soft Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
It can easily be blended into smoothies, raw desserts, baking as well as dips and sauces. You can use it as a replacement for a creamy dressing, including caesar dressing.

Burmese Tofu

Yes, you can eat it raw.
This offers a classic tofu texture that features a nutty chickpea flavor. You can blend the Burmese tofu perfectly inside salads to bring out a nice contrast with the veggies. The softness of the Burmese tofu goes perfectly with citrus dressings and vinegar to bring out a unique flavor.

FAQs

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Is Tofu Raw?
No, tofu is not raw. The tofu available in supermarkets and groceries is made from soybeans that are ground, cooked, and coagulated using minerals such as calcium and magnesium salt. The curds are then molded into blocks that are sold in supermarkets and groceries as blocks covered in water. There are many different varieties of tofu that you can buy and enjoy, including silken tofu, soft tofu, extra firm tofu, smoked tofu, stinky tofu, extra firm tofu, and many more. 
Can You Eat Tofu On Its Own?
You can eat tofu on its own when raw or cooked. But tofu is also great for incorporating into vegan diets.
What Does Raw Tofu Taste Like? 
Tofu in itself has a bland taste due to the manufacturing process that causes it to acquire a somewhat earthy flavor. People who are super sensitive to taste may actually feel the taste of beans while others say the product has a slightly nutty taste. You can flavor and season the tofu in many ways to make it taste the way you like or desire since the product is highly versatile.

 

 

Interested in learning more about tofu?
Check out these articles:
What Does Tofu Taste Like?
How Long Does Tofu Last?
Is Tofu Keto?
Types of Tofu
Tofu Press
Can Dogs Eat Tofu?
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