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Tempeh is a meat alternative which has been rapidly gaining popularity amongst vegans over the past couple of years. It’s a great plant-based staple to add to stir-fries, curries, wraps or even to make your own vegan bacon with. But, if you’ve searched the supermarket shelves and can’t find it, you’re not alone.
Despite being a nutritious and tasty alternative to tofu, tempeh is still relatively hard to get hold of in the UK. So if you’re stuck wondering ‘Where can I buy tempeh?’, then read on and I’ll tell you exactly where to find it.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is a block of cooked and fermented soy beans. This plant-based protein is packed with fibre and vitamins and has probiotic benefits. Tempeh is quite similar to it’s soy cousin tofu – the difference is that tofu is more dense, so it’s firmer and has more calories, protein and fibre.
How do you pronounce tempeh?
Hailing from Indonesia, tempeh should be pronounced as ‘tem-pay’. If you’ve only even seen it written down and have been calling is ‘temper’, I very much doubt that you’re the only one. The name is almost as odd as meat alternative ‘seitan’!
UK tempeh brands
Tempeh is a processed food which is made by several companies. The taste of tempeh varies depending on the brand. Some tempeh is mild and nutty, whereas some tastes a bit more like cheese. Your best bet its to try them all and see which you prefer.
Popular brands of tempeh in the UK include:
Launched in January 2019, vegan brand Plant Power was the first to bring tempeh to UK supermarket fridges. The brand offers a range of chilled tempeh products including sweet and smoky bbq ribs made of tempeh, chickpea tempeh, black bean tempeh, curry flavoured tempeh and tempeh veggie bites snacks.
The Tofoo Co
Already well-known for selling fantastic time-saving extra-firm tofu that doesn’t need to be pressed, The Tofoo Co launched their own tempeh in July 2019. Each box comes with a handy little recipe card which suggests ways to cook it. You’ll find it in the fridge.
UK company Biona Organic offers over 350 organic vegetarian products across 30 countries worldwide. Their traditional natural tempeh comes in a glass jar with water.
Somerset UK-based company, Impulse, have been making tempeh for over 28 years! This 100% organic tempeh is made in the UK and is available in blocks either chilled or frozen.
Better Nature is a company which was founded by Indonesians wanting to share their love of this traditional Indonesian street food with the world. The company offers a range of refrigerated tempeh products including tempeh mince, tempeh rashers and flavours such as smoked, saucy stir-fry, tantalising taco and moreish masala.
Where to buy tempeh in the UK
Tempeh can now be found in many UK supermarkets. The stock in each supermarket branch varies depending on the size of the supermarket and the demand for that product in the local population. For the best chance of finding tempeh in a supermarket, head to one of the bigger branches where you’ll find more choice in the vegan and vegetarian section.
If you’d rather have tempeh delivered to your door, there are also places where you can buy tempeh online. You should be aware that due to the delivery fee, you may have to buy in bulk as it can be a fairly expensive way to get a single item delivered.
Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to start stocking tempeh in 2019 when vegan start-up company Plant Power launched its first range of products. In 2020, Sainsbury’s also started to stock The Tofoo Co tempeh to offer more variety to British tempeh lovers.
Larger branches of Tesco now stock tempeh by The Tofoo Co in the fridge next to the tofu.
Waitrose is another supermarket where you can find tempeh by The Tofoo Co in larger stores.
If you live in a city or large town, you might be lucky enough to have an Asian supermarket. This is a really great place to find tempeh and it will probably be cheaper than anywhere else. Of course, this money saving will be negated by the fact that you’ll probably find lots of other interesting vegan ingredients whilst you’re there and end up coming away with a full basket.
Health food stores
Health food chain Holland and Barret stocks Biona tempeh in many branches. Your local independent health food store is certainly worth a try and they may stock other brands too
London-based health food shop Planet Organic offers a huge range of tempeh including brands like Tiba, Better Nature, Impulse and Tofurky. There are several branches in London with fresh food delivery only available within London.
Amazon sells pretty much everything and tempeh is no exception. Brands of tempeh that you’re likely to find on Amazon include Better Nature, Biona, Tiba and Yakso.
Can you make your own tempeh?
If you’ve tried to get tempeh and are still struggling, you might want to try making your own instead.
How to make your own tempeh at home:
- Soak two cups of dried soy beans overnight
- Drain the water and rinse the beans well
- Boil the soy beans in a pan for 30 to 60 minutes until they are soft but not mushy
- Drain and return the beans to the pan to evaporate any remaining water
- Allow the beans to cool
- Add vinegar and tempeh starter culture and mix well
- Wrap the beans in banana leaves or plastic zip lock bags with small holes and place between two chopping boards for 12 hours
- Unwrap and it’s ready to cook. You can store homemade tempeh in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for several months.
This video gives more information on how to make you own tempeh at home: