March 21, 2019
It was another early morning. I was up at 4 :45 am and at my destination by 5 :30 am.
On my walk yesterday, I noticed a small tofu manufacturing business. After some conversation between me, Google Translate, and the owner, I arranged to see the total operation from start to finish. They start work at 5:30 am, hence the early rising.
The work actually starts the evening before, when 50 kg of dried soy beans is soaked in water to soften and start the cleaning process. In the morning the beans are drained and washed several times removing any beans that need to be culled.
As water is slowly added the beans are ground finely into a thick liquid. This liquid is then placed into a centrifuge and the solids are removed. Only the liquid is used to make the tofu. The solids are used for animal feed.
The soy milk is then added to a large double boiler and heated to a rolling boil. The heated soy milk is drained into a large container, salt added, and the soy whey from the previous day’s production is slowly added until the liquid starts to curdlle. The container of liquid is rested for awhile to allow the coagulation to complete.
Whey is removed from the container of liquid and curds. The curds are then placed into a muslin lined hardwood mold. The molds that were used are made of fine grained hardwood. They are about 4 feet long and 2.5″ x 2.5″. The curds start to drain under their own weight and have to be topped up several times. The muslin is then folded over the top and the hardwood followers are placed on top. Pressure is applied and the curds drain for about 45 minutes.
The tofu is removed from the mold and cut into appropriate portions and placed into water baths to allow continued cooling and final curd setup.
The whey that is removed during the curdling process is soy milk and is cooled and bagged and sold as drink. The small bits and pieces of curd that do not get pressed are bagged and are silken tofu. The main tofu product is a medium dense tofu.
The total weight of product is about 35 kg, not counting the solids used for animal feed. The profit from the sale of the days production is about 1,100,000 Vietnamese dong or $64 Canadian. The production is 7 days a week. The total labour is about 15 man hours per day. This may not seem like a lot, but it is almost double the average daily income for 2 people in Hanoi.
Soaked and cleaned soy beans
Soy beans being ground as water is added
Centrifuge filled with thick soy bean liquid
Soy liquid, less solids
Heating the soy liquid in double boiler
Removing the whey from the curdled soy liquid.
Filling the molds
Covering the curd filled molds with muslin.
Followers added and pressure applied
Curds pressed and ready to be removed from the molds
Cutting the tofu
Tofu placed in water for cooling and final setup