Tempeh, a meat alternative made from soybeans, is a valuable product originating from Indonesia for people on a plant-based diet, or striving to eat healthier.

To make it, producers allow soybeans to ferment before adding a specific healthy bacteria to them. This bacteria grows and after a few days begins to connect together the individual pieces of soybean with a visible white fuzz. The entire 2-3 day process of creating tempeh results in more nutrients that are good for your gut and overall health.

Since this fuzzy-looking brick of beans is still a novel food product to many people around the world, we would like to share some tips on how to store your tempeh so that you can enjoy it safely and extend the shelf life.

1) Source Quality Tempeh

Whenever possible, find tempeh made from non-GMO soybeans and that are sustainably packaged. Most commonly found on the market is tempeh wrapped in plastic. While suppliers may use plastic as an easy way to extend the life of the tempeh, it also prevents us from accurately gauging the age of the tempeh and whether or not it has been frozen or refrozen multiple times. The means you could possibly buy tempeh that looks fine from the outside, but upon opening find it has a strong smell or brightly colored bacteria which should not be consumed.

To substitute for meat in your cooking, add about 100g of tempeh per person.

2) Keep Tempeh Chilled

In supermarkets, we often only have the choice of plastic-wrapped tempeh. If this is the case, choose tempeh that looks the healthiest from the outside, and that’s stored in the coolest place. Doorless refrigeration or even freezers that are opened too frequently can result in lower quality tempeh. Keep in mind that even when refrigerating or freezing tempeh, the bacteria is still active. This is the reason you tempeh may continue to age and yellow when stored at cold temperatures. For safe storage, be sure to reference food safety guidelines and check the temperature of your refrigerator occasionally.

Your food safety temperatures are guidelines to help prevent the growth of bacteria, and should also be used for reference on storing tempeh.

3) Make A Plan to Cook Your Tempeh

No schematics or schedules needed, but do give some thought about when you will cook your tempeh. If you plan to use your tempeh within the week, refrigerate it. If stored properly, your tempeh should last 2-3 weeks in your refrigerator. If you won’t use your tempeh for several days, or you’re unsure yet, we recommend putting your tempeh in the freezer. Once stored in the freezer the tempeh can safely last for at least a month, often longer.

4) Store Tempeh Dry & Air Tight

Your tempeh is very much alive. When fermenting the tempeh, it is usually warm to the touch as the mold mycelium grows around the bean, connecting them. This process is amazing because it helps to break down the soybeans, meaning there’s less work for our bodies to do during digestion and the nutrients in the beans are more accessible. 

However, if we neglect to store our tempeh thoughtfully it will continue to ferment. This is the reason that your refrigerator-stored tempeh continues to yellow. To slow the fermentation process, use a resealable bag or air-tight container to store your tempeh. Making sure the tempeh is dry, air-tight, and cool. These steps will help extend the shelf life of this important vegan protein.

5) Know the Signs of Spoilage 

Finally, you should know the warning signs of tempeh that has begun to spoil. If your tempeh begins to get slimy or has a strong smell, this is a signal to your nose that it should not be eaten.  While tempeh that has yellowed is still edible, you can also cut into the tempeh to be sure there is no mold inside. While some dark spots of mold are normal and edible, brightly colored or strong smelling mold means you should discard your tempeh.

See also: 5 Qualities of Outstanding Tempeh

Thanks for reading. You can visit our donation page to make a contribution to our nonprofit, and our tempeh can be ordered locally through suppliers like Farmtastic and Happy Grocers.


Dwight is director of Courageous Kitchen and a long term expat living in Bangkok, Thailand. A Thai speaker and astute lover of food, he enjoys teaching cooking, and using his passion for food to transform communities.