Earth First Innovations
I have finally found a tofu press that I LOVE!!
I have been making my own tofu since sometime in the late 1990’s or early 2000 (pure guess actually ... trying to find a date on some of my photos without success).
When I first got ready to make homemade tofu, I bought a tofu kit from Sanlink, and have been using that pressing box ever since.
This press certainly serves the purpose, but I've found it had two shortcomings:
First ... for the first 10 minutes or so of pressing, I have to be "hands on", holding the two ten pound weights sitting atop the can of tomatoes all of which is providing the weight to press the tofu. During the initial few minutes of pressing, as the tofu is being pressed, it is so soft and wobbly that this stack of weights and canned goods literally weaves all over the place.
Even once the tofu gets firm enough to end the "wobbling", I still keep a close eye on things to prevent 20 pounds of weights from crashing onto my wood floor.
The second short coming is the size ... the box is only large enough to make a 1 to 1 1/4 pound (450 grams to 560 grams) block of tofu at a time. For as much tofu as I make, I'd like the option of making 2 pounds or more while I'm at it. (A check of the Sanlink page shows their box is now larger --- 7.5" by 5.5" by 4" deep. The one I'm using is 5.25" by 4" by 3" deep).
Due to the small size of the box (5.25" by 4" opening), I've got to spoon 6 QUARTS of hot soymilk into this little container. I've done this via 2 cup scoop.
I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by Kevin Kuhns who, after learning to make tofu, realized these were problems needing a solution. He has developed a mechanical tofu press for small-scale tofu production for commercial and home use.
He kindly sent me 2 units to use and evaluate in exchange for a review on this website. Kevin provided only the 2 products .. the review that follows is totally my own and is based purely on my experience with the product.
His units are made from select, eastern white pine. He chose this because it is native to the US Northeast, readily available in high quality lumber, and is about as rot-resistant as the over-touted Japanese cypress. He ruled out using any of the tropical hardwoods (teak or ebony) as a matter of conscience. One of the tenents of his company is "Earth First", and his first priority was to use a sustainable wood.
The wood is finished with a hand-rubbed coating of walnut oil.
I simply cannot say enough about how useful and practical this product is. It perfectly solves the two issues mentioned above ... I found his method of pressing to be so simple and so intuitive, it makes me wonder why no one else has thought of this as yet.
The pressing is done via a handle pressing down on a top plate that is in contact with the top of the muslin wrapped tofu. This handle is held in place with two "press bands" --- basically two wide, super-strong, heavy duty rubber bands. These bands can apply as much as 20 pounds of weight to the tofu, or as little as 5 pounds, based on whether you use one or two bands, and how much you stretch them (the amount of stretch is controlled by where you put the lower pin to which the rubber band(s) attach. This pin can be moved up or down).
The beauty of this is that you pour the curds and whey into the muslin lined box, fold the muslin over the curds, apply the top plate, attach the bands and walk away. No teetering tower of 20 pounds of your husband's weights on top of a can of tomatoes to guard against toppling and falling!
Kevin's box is also plenty large ... he says it will make up to nearly 4 pounds of tofu at one time. I have used it to make up to 2 pounds at one time, something I was never able to do before. Another advantage of the size of his box is that you don't have to ladle 6 quarts of curds and whey into a tiny container (as mentioned above). I just pour all the curds and whey right into this muslin lined box without a bit of problem.
The box also is able to handle a "regular" batch of tofu .... 5 1/2 quarts of Soymilk to make one pound of extra firm tofu. Here is my one pound block of tofu made in Kevin's Tofu Press.
Kevin also designed the box to act as a press to press water out of commercial tofu. I tried this (yes, I do occasionally buy commercial tofu when I don't have time to make my own) and his product works great! It is perfectly sized and shaped to allow two 14 to 16 ounce blocks of tofu (the size normally sold in the US) to lie side by side on the bottom plate within the box. Using his press, I was able to press out 11 ounces of water from 2 store bought blocks of tofu.
He also says it will work well as a general food press, when you need to, for example, press water from thawed, frozen spinach, spring vegetables, etc.
I found Kevin to be very responsive to input on his product. In fact, he changed a couple parts of the unit's design in response to my feedback.
Besides the tofu pressing box itself, Kevin also includes an amply sized piece of muslin, and 3 ounces of nigari flakes, enough to coagulate approximately 10 pounds of dry soybeans.
He sells the units for $44.99. Shipping is additional, based on your location and preferred shipping method. He ships world wide. All these units have been handmade by Kevin, and they are fine, well made products. In fact, the thickness of the wood sides and pressing plates is almost twice the thickness of my old Sanlink product.
I urge you to take a look at Kevin's product ... it's always great to find something made to meet a specific need ... form and function perfectly meshing. From my uses, I can whole heartedly recommend this!!
Kevin can be contacted via:
More pictures here.