Tofu is a beloved food by many. Vegans and vegetarians enjoy it and those who eat Asian cuisine consume it frequently.
However, it’s not as easy to recreate your favorite dishes when you buy regular tofu and chop it up. Store-bought tofu has a high water content that needs to drain before you can use it says Thrive Cuisine. Why? The tofu won’t absorb seasoning or sauces well when full of water. Plus, you won’t get a crispy crust when frying.
Most people will take their tofu and try to drain it by using paper towels. Then, they stack whatever heavy objects they can find on top. This method sounds ideal, but it creates a mess and doesn’t always provide consistent results. Luckily, tofu presses exist to help make your tofu restaurant quality. What should you know to choose the right one?
The most basic of the presses, plate-style presses function by squeezing the tofu with two plates. They’re held together by a few screws and adjustable knobs. These knobs are used to increase or decrease the pressure the plates exert.
This style of the press comes with or without tension springs in the frames. These presses require the most maintenance and work. You need to constantly adjust the knobs to drain the water from the tofu. As it gets rid of the moisture, you’ll need to keep adjusting.
It’s not considered as user-friendly as other presses because of the work you have to put into it. However, if you have tofu of different shapes, it works great. It also doesn’t cost as much as a box-style press and cleans easily.
If you’re someone that doesn’t use tofu often, then this press is the better option. Keep in mind this type of press is slower than a box-style. It will take around 20 minutes or so to remove all the liquid out.
Box-style presses are a step-up from plate-style presses. They don’t need constant adjustment and can be “forgotten” about as you go about your day. When you make tofu daily, it becomes your best friend. Box-style tofu presses have plastic or metal containers with one weighted or spring-loaded top plate.
You take your tofu and place it inside the container. Then, assemble the weight or top plate based on the instructions. Once you have it assembled, the plate applies pressure to the tofu for water removal.
These presses are the most convenient because they don’t require you to adjust knobs for the plate to work. Keep in mind this style only works with rectangular blocks of tofu.
If you plan to use other shapes, a wooden or plastic press is your best option because it can mold the tofu too. These presses are considered the most user-friendly out of the styles. The only major downside to this type of press is the size. They usually take up much more cabinet space than a plate-style press.
Japanese Wooden or Plastic Press
Wooden-style presses function as both a tofu mold and a press. It works similarly to a stainless-steel press and features an identical design. The major differences are they usually have plastic plates in them and don’t come weighted.
The press plates in a wooden or plastic press should come in food-grade plastic. Keep in mind these presses won’t work well with store-bought tofu. Why? Store-bought tofu is small, and the machine could crumble it easily.
Spring-Loaded Boxed Press
Spring-loaded tofu presses operate differently than other types. It uses a single press plate and doesn’t require you to tighten the tension. Instead, the spring-loaded single plate provides enough tension to drain tofu. It doesn’t require much work and only takes around 15 minutes.
Factors to Consider
Presses come in a variety of plastic or metal. Today, we concern ourselves with plastic and how hazardous it could be for our health. We want to make sure we buy BPA-free plastic with FDA approval for food use. Stainless steel presses are the most common material used for metal presses. The steel makes it durable and easy to clean. The nuts and bolts of a tofu press might concern you. However, you can buy presses that use food-grade stainless steel small parts for safety.
You want to consider the maintenance of the machine. Most models you buy will come pre-assembled, so you can use them right out of the box. However, some might require assembly. Additionally, many presses can be washed in the dishwasher. Some will require you manually clean them because of the small crevices.
Ease of Use
Ease of use matters because what good is the machine if you struggle to use it! Some people find one press easier than others and most of it has to do with personal preference. However, in general, most people find that box-style presses are the easiest to use. Plate-style presses do produce faster results which appeal to many that want it done in a pinch.
A box-style press might suit you best if you’re someone that prefers to set it and continue about your day. If you don’t mind adjusting the right settings, then a plate-style press is a worthy contender. Presses are designed to make pressing tofu easier than if you were to do it by hand.
People can benefit from a tofu press if they consume it frequently. Depending on what you need it to do, will determine the one you should purchase. If you need a press to mold the tofu and don’t mind making manual adjustments, then you’ll want a plate-style press.
Those that want to leave it on the counter and continue prep work would benefit from a box-style press. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy restaurant-quality tofu.