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Many home cooks are perfectly happy with a whole stack of books and heaps of kitchen towel (tut, tut) when pressing tofu, but finding the best tofu press can save you time and completely do away with all that paper waste.
Tofu gets a bad rap for a number of reasons, but most of these can be overcome with the aid of a good tofu press. Find tofu messy? A press will help. Think tofu is tasteless? Pressing the water out will allow flavors to be absorbed easier. Not a fan of the texture? A tofu presser will make your bean curd firmer and much more like a meat product than the floppy, custardy feel you may be used to.
So, here we are, about to talk about the best tofu press to transform your vegetarian and vegan cooking, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Some of you may have landed here with no clue about tofu, so let’s take a quick look at the ingredient itself before we explore the tofu presses in more detail.
What is tofu?
According to the Soy Info Center, tofu is a cheese-like food made by curdling soy milk that’s packaged in water to keep it moist until it’s ready to be used in recipes. This Discovery Channel video shows how it’s made:
Tofu was first churned out in Japan around 1182 AD, and it’s now a staple in Japanese kitchens. Tofu has found a home in western recipes too, and there are now hundreds of thousands of companies making the soy product across the world in order to meet the ever-growing demand.
What can you do with tofu?
Your options are unlimited as long as you’re prepared to experiment and find your favorite ways to prepare tofu. Any meal can be made with the stuff: breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all perfectly doable thanks to the different types and textures found in supermarkets and health food stores everywhere. You can even make desserts with it!
Why prepare and eat tofu?
Tofu has a reputation in western society for being a rather bland product that doesn’t match our palates, so first of all it’s important to overcome that “prejudice” and actually give it a try. It never ceases to amaze me how many people wrinkle their nose when you mention tofu…and then they reveal that they’ve never even tried it!
Not only can it make a great meal, tofu is actually pretty good for you too. It can reduce bad cholesterol, enrich the blood with iron, it contains few carbs and it’s loaded with calcium and Vitamin E. It also contains all eight of our essential amino acids and is jammed packed with healthy minerals such as selenium, phosphorous, and manganese.
Some say tofu lowers heart attack risk, provides cancer-fighting antioxidants, can lower prostate cancer risk, and that women are 60-percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer if they consume tofu. Others swear that tofu reduces hot flashes, fights bone loss, and claim it may slow the aging process considerably.
However, there isn’t really a whole lot of evidence to substantiate any of these claims, so be wary when you hear any of the above – especially when connected to anyone selling something!
As with most foodstuffs, try and find the least processed tofu with the fewest ingredients, and look out for non-GMO products too. You can even try and make your own tofu from soy beans at home to really ensure that you’re getting the best end product possible. Just be sure to pick up non-GMO beans whenever you can.
Flavor can be added at home as well, which will do away with a good chunk of the “unpronounceables” found on the packet. It’s also a good idea to eat tofu only as part of a balanced diet. Like most things, overconsumption probably isn’t the best thing you can do for your health!
INTERESTING READ: Is Soy Sauce Vegan? (And Should You Be Eating It, Anyway?)
Working with tofu
This soy-based food is packed with the proteins many believe can only be found in a good cut of meat, but tofu is also an ingredient that acts like a chameleon, absorbing the flavors and textures of other ingredients as one cooks.
However, before you can start moving your recipe forward, you’ve got to figure out how to get rid of all the water put there to keep it fresh and moist so it doesn’t dry out before it reaches your kitchen. Sound like an easy task, right? Actually, tofu water removal can be something of an ordeal, and can make or break a recipe.
For years, tofu fans have faced the messy task of draining, pressing and otherwise working with the ingredient to get rid of the water. Paper towels have been sacrificed to the kitchen gods before the first tofu presser was invented.
Back then, the draining process was tedious and wasteful, as getting rid of the moisture often meant the tofu would begin to disintegrate. Therefore, finding a good tofu press became an essential task for any serious tofu cook.
Finding the best tofu press
Whether you’re already a fan of tofu because it supports your health and lifestyle and simply want a more efficient way of pressing it, or if you’re planning to try a new recipe that requires bean curd and have no clue how to get rid of the water, you’ve come to the right place.
There are two basic tofu presser models: plate-style and box-style. The plate style may remind you of a workshop vice system with tension knobs. Box-style models feature spring-loaded plates or simple heavy weights to get rid of the water.
The choice is strictly personal. Each offers pluses and minuses, but by the time you read our tofu press reviews, you’ll have a far clearer idea of which one will best suit your tofu pressing needs.
Let the search for the best tofu press begin!
Super Tofu Press
We begin our tofu press reviews with a gadget that belongs in the spring model category. The Super Tofu Press is promoted as the best way to eliminate meat while retaining “proper amounts of protein” in the diet.
The Super Tofu Press is made from BPA-free HDPE plastic, so it’s as free from harmful chemicals as you can get with a plastic product. All of the hardware – nuts, bolts springs – are made of industrial grade stainless steel and the unit has been put through 50,000 dishwasher cycles with no discernible wear and tear.
The lower plate is crafted with foot pads for stabilization and they lift the press ever so slightly from a flat surface. If you’ve used a plate-style press in the past and discarded it because it wobbled, your experience with this model won’t be the same thanks to those foot pads. However, they are not in any way non-slip, so care will still need to be taken when using.
The manufacturer estimates that the Super Tofu Press takes, on average, 15 minutes or less to remove water while making sure the tofu itself retains those all important nutrients. As mentioned above, the Super Tofu Press has also been rigorously tested in dishwasher tests, so it’s a breeze to clean once you’re done too.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Springs prevent plates from collapsing, which makes placing tofu inside the press very simple
✅ Footpads give an element of stability, but they aren’t non-slip
✅ Works fast, just 15 minutes for pressed tofu
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Screw threads could be wider to enable easier turning
❌ Plastic plates are prone to bowing
❌ Can produce an unevenly pressed block of tofu
❌ Tofu can sometime crumble and break off during pressing
❌ Needs constant screw tightening to extract maximum amounts of water
Raw Rutes Tofu Press (Ninja)
This box-style tofu press from Raw Rutes is a beautiful addition to any kitchen, and it’s simplicity is actually its strength.
Made in the U.S.A. of 304-grade stainless steel, the Ninja’s unique design has been known to win over chefs who like their kitchen aids to be as attractive as they are useful. However, you’ll have to spend a little more than you would on the other presses on our list if you want the Ninja to become the latest addition to your kitchen.
Despite the hefty price tag, Raw Rutes Tofu Press loyalists extol features and benefits they enjoy as a result of buying this hefty (6 pounds total weight!) gadget. Why? Well, because it actually removes the water without the tofu losing the block shape. This may seem like a small point, but it’s an important one if you want to be able to cut your tofu evenly once pressed.
If you’ve had past experiences using a flimsy press that made water removal a headache, this one is an improvement. If you’re the adventurous sort, the shape and solid construction of this tool is also perfect for anyone wanting to try their hand at making tofu from scratch. All you need to do is line the Ninja with a decent cheesecloth and you’re good to go.
All in all, the Ninja Tofu Press from Raw Rutes is a fantastic bit of kit, but you will have to pay up for it.
NOTE: This is the updated press, which can take a whole block of supermarket bought tofu in one go.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Sleek, sophisticated, and solid, you’d be hard pressed to find a press more beautiful and sturdy
✅ So simple to use, a child could be taught to press water from tofu quickly and efficiently – providing they could pick the weight up!
✅ Water has more exit portals than other box-type presses
✅ Tofu blocks retain their shape perfectly
✅ Can double as a press for making your own tofu
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Comparison tests between this stainless steel tofu press and less-expensive plastic styles resulted in more water removed using the plastic press. However, the block shape was not retained as well when using the plastic press
❌ Some may dislike the lack of “control” you have when using the Ninja
❌ Despite its solid 4.5lb weight, extra physical pressure may be required to extract all the water
TofuXpress Gourmet Tofu Press/Marinating Dish
If you’re a fan of kitchen aids that accomplish more than one task effortlessly, and you’re on a budget that sends you scurrying for appliances and tools that won’t empty your bank account, the affordable Gourmet Tofu Press/Marinating Dish should appeal to your sensitivities, needs and wallet.
The TofuXpress is a no-frills unit that can produce pressed tofu and drain other water-logged foods as well. It comes with an instruction book/recipe guide, recipe cards and a marinating lid, so if you’re just entering the tofu preparation scene, you’ll find these extras great incentives to buy.
Marketed as the only unit vegetarians and vegans need to eat healthier and slash food budgets, the TofuXpress was subjected to five years of tests before being introduced to the kitchen gadget market. It may have been that testing period that made product developers realize the unit could also serve double duty as a marinating bowl.
There’s an optional Light Tension #2 Spring (sold separately or provided with a slightly more expensive TofuXpress model found here), and all components are manufactured of FDA-approved thermoplastic and stainless steel. A limited 1-year warranty accompanies this TofuXpress product as well.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Can be used for more than just tofu
✅ Easy to store
✅ Lid doubles as a marinating dish
✅ Comes with recipe book and instruction manual
✅ One year warranty included
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Breakage has been reported by consumers
❌ Due to the unit’s simplicity, not every user found water removal to be adequate
❌ Infrequent spring lock complaints
EZ Tofu Press
The EZ Tofu Press happens to be the most affordable tofu press in this review, so if you are basing your buying decision on price, your consideration process may end right here.
Promoted as the best alternative to spring-and-elastic band presses that require hours to complete the water draining process, the EZ Tofu Press claims it can tackle all sizes of tofu bricks with aplomb, so you don’t have to worry about draining tofu chunks in stages.
There are centering marks on this unit that show you exactly where to place the tofu, which allows you to put uniform pressure on the entire brick. However, the nature of the design does mean that more pressure will naturally be exerted closer to screws than in the middle of the block. The can be overcome by placing a firm hand on the middle whilst turning the screws, though.
Made in the U.S.A., this press cleans up in hot soapy water or it can be put through a dishwasher as long as it’s placed on the top rack. For the money, the EZ Tofu Press does a great job.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Very affordable
✅ Can handle all tofu block sizes
✅ Fast and simple to use
✅ Ridiculously easy to clean
✅ Alignment feature is a nice touch
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Not as even as box style tofu presses
❌ Plates can bow slightly if excessive pressure is made on the gadget. However, they do return to flat once pressure is released
❌ Can result in broken tofu if not used properly
❌ You need to repeatedly turn the screws to increase pressure, which may be inconvenient for some
Which tofu press is best?
All of the tofu presses here have pros and cons; none of them are 100% perfect, but they’re all far better than the old plates and paper towels method – especially if you want to cut down on your paper wastage.
With this in mind, a lot will come down to price. The Ninja is undoubtedly the one tofu press you’d like to have on show when guests come round to eat, and it does the job of removing water well, but the price will definitely be prohibitive for many.
I like the TofuXpress because it comes with so many accessories and extras, and the Super Tofu Press’ springs are a great idea, but they do make clean up a little difficult.
However, our final candidate for best tofu press , the EZ Tofu Press, is an irresistible pick for anyone who doesn’t require an industrial-type product and is operating on a tighter budget. You’ll need a little practice to get your water pressing technique down pat, but with that center guide to help you out, your learning curve should be short.
And do yourself a favor: Don’t fall for the claims of 5-minute drain times, please. Tofu draining takes time to get right and, while we’d all like a quick fix, setting aside a little more time will always give you better results.
That’s it, our best tofu press review is at an end. Now, where’s that fake bacon recipe!