Barry’s Tempeh


Tempeh is a nutrient-dense, soy bean based food that has interested me ever since I first learnt about its Javanese origins and importance in the Indonesian diet during a previous blog post where I featured and interviewed Dr Jonathan Agranoff MD from Doctor Tempeh.  While I was researching tempeh online at the time, I came across a fascinating Brooklyn-based company called Barry’s Tempeh and made a mental note to investigate it further on any future visits to New York City.

Fast forwarding to earlier this month and my New York foodie adventure, I was wandering around Wholefoods in Tribeca and was pleasantly surprised to randomly come across Barry Schwartz of Barry’s Tempeh sampling his range of tempehs.  His panfried, lightly seasoned tempeh samples were superb – flavourful and delicious with a satisfying, wholesome texture.

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Barry invited me to his production facility in Long Island City to see how his tempeh is made.  How could I refuse?

Barry has created a unique range of hybrid versions of traditional Indonesian soy bean tempeh that are made using nontraditional ingredients.  Other than producing the traditional soy-based variety, Barry also produces the following innovative tempehs:- white bean and brown rice; soy, oats and barley; buckwheat, quinoa and basmati rice; mung bean and basmati rice; and aduki bean and basmati rice.  The beans and grains used are sourced locally from an Ithaca based farm, Cayuga Pure Organics, and the tempeh is produced in small batches to maintain its quality.

At the tempeh production facility, I saw and participated in the hands on, labour intensive process of cooking, preparing and adding culture (rhizopus oligosporus) to a veritable plethora of beans and pulses…20130724_20580020130724_20555520130724_20550320130724_205531

…and helped to pack it into perforated bags for the 24-hour 87 degrees F fermentation process where the real magic happens, and the beans are transformed into sliceable blocks of tempeh.


During the evening of tempeh making, Barry took some time out away from his beans to tell me the story of how he started producing tempeh and about how the production process works.  You can hear the interview in full by clicking on the play button below.

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