A block of tofu could be the perfect addition to any recipe. Packed with protein and capable of absorbing any flavor around it, tofu nicely rounds off many dishes that need some texture.
However, you generally shouldn’t use it right out of the package. Draining and pressing tofu will give you the best culinary experience.
The problem is, not everyone has a tofu press. If that sounds like you and you’re wondering how to press tofu without a press, you’ve found the right page. We’ll walk you through it.
How Do You Press Tofu Without a Press?
A tofu press may make things easier, but it’s not very common to own one unless you eat a lot of tofu. If you’re more of an occasional tofu eater, then you’re probably left wondering if there’s a better way to drain it.
Yes, you can drain it without a press. There are a couple different ways to do it. We’ll discuss them in more detail below.
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Squeeze the tofu with your own hands.
We’ll start with the harder of the two options: turning yourself into a tofu press. Begin by removing the tofu from the package.
Next, wrap paper towels around the block. Apply pressure by pressing your palms on both sides of the tofu, like a vice.
Alternatively, you can set it down on the counter or table and press down on it. Make sure you apply pressure as evenly as possible, so one side isn’t more drained than the other.
This strategy takes a pretty long time, and takes a lot of muscle. That’s why we’re calling it the harder of your two options.
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Make an imitation tofu press with stuff you already have.
The easier of the two methods involves creating a tofu press from things you already have lying around your kitchen. There are a couple popular ways of doing so.
You can use two plates like the picture above. Lay some paper towel sheets on the bottom plate to absorb water, then place the tofu on top of them. Put a plate on top, then layer weights on the top plate.
Another way is to put the tofu block in something like a tray. Then, place a skillet on the block and put things in the skillet to weigh it down, such as cans of food.
The core concept is just putting the tofu in something that can capture the water, then lying something on top that presses down.
How Long Do You Press Tofu?
So how long do you have to wait until your tofu is adequately pressed? If you have a press, it can be as quick as several minutes.
Without a press, though, longer is often better. Some recommend pressing the tofu for anywhere from half an hour to an hour.
This can obviously be a long time, especially if you’re in a hurry. If you need to be able to make your meals quickly, you can press tofu in advance, but it will work best if you have a specific kind of press.
How Do You Press Tofu Without Paper Towels?
If you’re trying to be more environmentally friendly and avoiding paper towels, you can use alternatives. You can use pretty much any absorbent cloth, actually.
Kitchen towels, cheesecloth, and muslin cloth are all viable alternatives to paper towels. Just avoid fluffy or shaggy cloths, like towels, so you don’t end up with fibers stuck to your tofu. Read my post about where to buy cheesecloth in the grocery store if you're having trouble finding it.
Further Reading: How Do You Quickly Drain Tofu?
What is the Best Way to Press Tofu?
A tofu press will apply consistent pressure to your tofu with no effort on your part. You can truly just set it and forget it, working on other aspects of your meal while you wait for the tofu. If you need a guide, you can check out our list on the best tofu press options if you you're looking to buy one.
They’re also faster than using your hands or making an imitation press. Some tofu presses can drain your tofu in around ten minutes.
Pressing your tofu ensures it will taste and feel the best. This gets tricky when you don’t have a tofu press at home, but it’s still possible.
With a little ingenuity and a few common kitchen accessories, you can press your tofu to perfection. If you’re planning on having tofu frequently, though, we still recommend you consider investing in a press to save you time in the future.
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