Does Tempeh Go Bad? | How To Tell If Tempeh Is Bad

Does Tempeh Go Bad?

Decades before there existed bleedable plant-based burgers, the original meat substitutes were generally produced from soybeans. This mostly featured pan-Asian tofu or Indonesian tempeh, both of which are plant-based foods prepared from fermented soybeans. Since tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein it is opted by many bodybuilders who create their own meal plans.

It is a popular meat replacement among vegans and vegetarians all over the world. Despite its growing recognition, its soured nature raises a number of concerns. Tempeh is a superfood, yet it is sometimes shadowed by its much more recognized relative, tofu.

However, tempeh is no longer only for vegans or health food store buyers; tempeh is already appearing on restaurant menus and in grocery stores across the country. But how well do you understand this plant-based protein?

What Is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a fermented, high-protein plant-based food derived mostly from soybeans. Some inventive cooks enhance their versions with veggies, seaweed, and spices. Tempeh is ascribed to inventive cooks on Indonesia’s Java Island. It was first mentioned in writing in the early 1800s, but it is most likely considerably older.

The foundation components are partially cooked and chilled before being injected with a fungal culture that ferments them in the same manner that yogurt or cheese is fermented with bacteria.

As the tempeh ferments, bacteria develop a pale mycelium mat around the beans and grains, forming a solid cake. It is still a popular dish in Indonesia, where it is generally fried and served with spicy sauces.

Can Tempeh Go bad?

Tempeh is a fermented, natural food that is maintained by the activity of a specific fungus that adds nutrients and probiotics. However, like with many types of cheese, the natural presence of this fungus might lead some consumers to doubt if their tempeh has gone bad or if it is still safe to eat.

So, can tempeh spoil? Yes, it is. The simplest approach to understand the difference between regular tempeh and rotten tempeh is to compare their form, fragrance, consistency, and other characteristics.

How To Tell If Tempeh Is Bad?

How To Tell If Tempeh Is Bad?

It’s hardly a big deal if your tempeh has black spots. You’ll usually notice this if you leave tempeh in its container because it ferments and incubates at steady temps. However, there are a few key signs to look out for after 7-10 days that may indicate the tempeh has gone bad:

  • Bad Smell: Tempeh often smells like mushrooms, although it can also smell nasty or cheesy. If you can smell the tempeh from afar, it has most likely gone bad. If your tempeh smells rancid or has strong alcohol or ammonium overtones, it’s time to throw it out.
  • Discoloration: In addition to their look, black spots on tempeh might indicate deterioration or that the packing has been exposed to air. The color of tempeh will vary depending on its age and fermenting method. Tempeh should be smooth and white, with grey areas. Black and grey patches are a common sign that tempeh has gone bad. They’re entirely natural, but you should avoid them at all costs.
  • Texture is off: Tempeh should have a solid, uniform texture throughout the cake. It frequently resembles thickly packed nougat or a solid cheese. If they are fuzzy, hairy, crumbly, break apart, or slimy in texture, they indicate hazardous bacterial development and should be avoided for ingestion.

Learn About Shelf life Of Other Vegan Foods:

How Long Is Tempeh Good For?

If properly maintained, unopened tempeh can be kept refrigerated for 5 to 7 days after the “sell-by” date on the packaging. To extend the shelf life of tempeh, do not open the packaging until it is time to use it. If you intend to keep it frozen until it is used – Unopened tempeh will keep its finest quality in the freezer for around 10 to 12 months if properly preserved.

Uncooked tempeh can be kept in the refrigerator for 7-10 days in an airtight container or wrapped in wax paper. Cooked tempeh, on the other hand, should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days to prevent any kind of spoilage.

How To Store Tempeh?

How To Store Tempeh?

There are three effective methods for prolonging the life of tempeh:

  • Seasoning tempeh with garlic and salt: This is a great approach to increase tempeh’s shelf life. These spices act as natural preservatives, prolonging the tempeh’s shelf life.
  • Freezing tempeh: By freezing tempeh in the refrigerator, you may increase its shelf life. Before placing the tempeh in the fridge, please ensure that it is in a secure and contained plastic container. If you do it this way, it should last at least a week.
  • If you have additional tempeh, simply wrap it in wax or parchment paper and store it in the refrigerator (the paper allows it to breathe).

What Happens If You Eat Bad Tempeh?

The fermenting process imparts an earthy, savory, mushroom-like flavor to tempeh, which is significantly stronger than the flavor of tofu. Unlike tofu, which is often mushy and bland, tempeh is chewy and nutty. Tempeh spoils when the mycelium fungus loses the struggle against more harmful fungal strains.

While tempeh is a highly healthy meal, rotting tempeh can cause a number of health issues. Your body’s immunity and tolerance to the fungus will determine how your body particularly handles poor tempeh. Most bad tempeh causes stomach distress, nausea, and vomiting. Though uncommon, harmful molds can generate deadly compounds known as mycotoxins and aflatoxins, which can also raise cancer risk.

Can You Eat Tempeh With Black Mold?

Soaked soybeans are put in an atmosphere containing Rhizopus, a fungus used to generate a mold that binds the soybeans together. Tempeh should not contain any bacterial or mold development aside from the Rhizopus spores. The black dots on tempeh are the result of spores, or fresh mold growth caused by Rhizopus fungus.

These spores are often white, grey, or black in color. While refrigerated, the tempeh continues to ferment, causing the black spores to form. When the tempeh has black dots all over it, it is fully mature and has its greatest taste. Because these black spots are safe, you may and will consume tempeh with grey or black patches.

Good Mold vs Bad Mold On Tempeh

Good Mold

To produce tempeh, a mold called “Rhizopus” is introduced to cooked soybeans (or a mixture of beans and grains). The mold degrades the carbohydrates, oils, and proteins in the soybeans, enhancing their texture, taste, and digestibility while also forming a sliceable tempeh “cake.” When the tempeh is finished, the fermentation process is halted by a thorough cook phase that deactivates the mold.

Black mold

Tempeh, like other foods, can deteriorate and mold after being opened. Fortunately, distinguishing between good and harmful mold is simple. To begin with, the innocuous spots are black or grey in color, and the spots on your tempeh should not expand.

Pasteurization kills the beneficial mold, so any mold that persists in your home most likely arrived after you moved there. Normal tempeh should smell earthy or nutty and be firm and juicy. It should be dry and not slimy. If it smells like ammonia, throw out that bag of tempeh.


Tempeh is a high-protein, healthful meat substitute with a delicious nutty flavor. As a fermented food, it contains probiotics that help gut health and digestion. It can also get infected with undesired molds or bacteria, losing the characteristic color and flavor of tempeh’s fermenting fungus.

Using this simple approach, you should be able to determine if your tempeh has gone bad or is still edible. Always check expiry dates and smell and feel tempeh before using it. That way, you’ll be able to get the hang of it faster and be more confident the next time. Before you know it, you’ll be eating it all the time.

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