Frequently asked questions

TEMPEH

It’s the way we make protein, the better way! Tempeh fermentation is a food process that originated in Indonesia 300 years ago and involves taking soybeans, or any other legume, nut, grain or seed, and naturally transforming them into something even more nutritious, delicious and versatile - to ‘better nature’, you might say!

It’s simple really - tempeh is one of the most delicious, nutritious and sustainable foods on the planet, and we just don’t think this is celebrated enough. We think tempeh has the potential to ensure people all over the world meet their protein and fibre needs, in a delicious, satisfying way, without harming the planet in the process. What’s more, it’s also great for the gut and packed with micronutrients!

Typically, people describe tempeh as having quite a nutty taste and a very rich, meaty texture. It’s great by itself or as the base ingredient for other protein products, like our Rashers and Better Bites. We don’t really think there’s anything else like it which is why it’s such a game-changing food!

Tempeh by itself is totally gluten-free and nut-free however it does, of course, typically contain soybeans. That being said, we’ve done plenty of experimenting with soy-free tempeh, which has worked very well so far. Our current soy-free options are our Lupin Tempeh, Smoked Lupin Tempeh and Better Bites - made from protein and fibre rich lupin beans. To note, our Tempeh Rashers contain wheat and all of our products are at risk of gluten cross contamination - sorry about this :(

Tempeh can be made out of any legume, nut, grain or seed. We’ve experimented with everything and anything from quinoa to spirulina to chia to chickpeas - we’re reinventing tempeh, so get excited!

Tempeh is great for the gut for three main reasons: i) It’s high in fibre, feeding gut microbiota to aid healthy digestion. ii) It contains remnants of microorganisms from its fermentation which can stimulate the immune system, such as para-probiotics. iii) It contains polyphenols that act as antioxidants, catching harmful free radicals found in the gut cells.

Very little, if any - it's very quick and relatively mild! It certainly doesn’t do anything that wouldn’t then be done when cooking the tempeh. But don’t fear, cooked tempeh is still great for you, explained in more detail below!

Raw tempeh, which is commonly eaten in Indonesia, provides a good supply of gut-friendly microorganisms like probiotics, and these are lost when it’s cooked. The polyphenols mentioned in the previous question are also reduced when cooking. However, the rest of the nutritional benefits of tempeh like its protein and fibre content, the remnants of microorganisms, its contents of micronutrients like iron and calcium and so on, are all maintained after cooking. Happy days!

Tempeh production begins by soaking, dehulling and partly cooking soybeans (or any other legumes, nuts, grains or seeds of your choosing). The soybeans are then mixed with a 100% natural fungal starter culture. The soybeans are later spread into a thin layer and are allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature of about 30°C (although we’ve developed technology to make this process faster, without compromising nutritional value and actually enhancing the taste!). Later, the temperature of the soybeans will naturally rise and rapid growth of mycelium (the white/cream stuff you see around the beans, binding them together) occurs for about 4 hours. As the growth declines, the soybeans are bound into a solid mass by the mycelium and your tempeh is ready!

OUR PRODUCTS

All our products can be found on our online shop. They can also be found in other retailers and some select independent stores, which are regularly updated on our Stockists page. We’re regularly adding new stockists, please keep checking here and on our social media pages for updates.

Yes, all of our products are certified organic by the Soil Association.

Yes, all of our products are 100% vegan.

Our products can be cooked in all kinds of ways - just check out the Recipes section of our website to see for yourself! Our plain tempeh products (original soy or lupin and smoked soy and lupin) can be thinly sliced, cut into blocks - whatever you like really. They take on the flavour of marinades really well and from then on can be cooked just like meat - fried, steamed, baked, smoked or blackened etc. Tempeh is a very versatile food that adapts well to any kind of cooking. Our Rashers can also be cooked in all kinds of ways, just like bacon rashers. We usually fry them to go into a delicious Bacon & Apple Salad, English Breakfast or Carbonara. Our Mince is delish in a bolognese, chilli or some san choy bow - so versatile and easy to cook! Finally, our Better Bites are pre-cooked so can simply be heated and added to whatever dish you like - anything from a taco to a tikka masala! As we mentioned, if you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, check out the Recipes section of our website or have a look at our Instagram.

No! Tempeh is totally safe to eat raw, we just think it tastes better cooked. So, don’t be worried about any health risks to not cooking it thoroughly enough - just cook it to your taste!

Our products do need to be refrigerated, even before they’re opened. Specific storage instructions will be on the packaging of each product.

Our products have a minimum of 14-20 days shelf life from delivery on our online shop, depending on the product. Once they’ve been opened, we recommend that they should be consumed within 48 hours. However, please do check out the specific instructions on the packaging as it may vary for different products. Please note, black or grey spots on tempeh are a normal by-product of their fermentation and do not indicate spoilage.

Yes they can! The Better Bites and Mince need to be removed from their packaging to do so as the packaging isn’t freezer safe, but the rest are fine to pop in as they are. However, to maintain the taste and texture we don’t recommend doing so for longer than 2 months.

Yes, our tempeh is pasteurised - we do this to make it safer to eat and to keep it fresher for longer! More explanation on this and its limited impact on the products can be found in the Tempeh section :)

Lupin beans are the yellow legume seeds of the genus Lupinus. They’re most commonly eaten as a snack in countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Brazil, as well as across the Middle East. They’re very high in protein, fibre and a range of micronutrients, and low in saturated fat. We have chosen to use them as we believe they are the best alternative to soy to make tempeh, due to having the same high protein content but more fibre and less fat. Lupin tempeh also has a similar meaty texture to soy tempeh, but has its own slightly more nutty taste - we’re big fans, as you can probably tell!

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability is a priority in everything we do. Being a start-up, we can’t always be perfect, but we’re always doing our best and striving to be better. Our mission is to be the most sustainable, ethically-minded company we can, outlined in our Sustainability & Ethics Policy, a summary of which can be found here. If you have any questions regarding this or any suggestions for us, please get in touch at hello@betternaturefoods.co.

We’re the first to admit it, the use of plastic packaging for our products is not ideal and it does frustrate us.

The reason we do it is that packing legumes in plastic before fermentation helps make the fermentation process more accurate (oxygen, temperature, humidity etc.), making it a more efficient, reliable way of producing tempeh that should reduce any wastage. It is possible to produce tempeh without the use of plastic, but it is a lot harder and opens up the possibility of spoilage and an inconsistent quality of products. This being said, we are always working on improving our production process and have plans to implement better practices with less plastic involved in the near future.

Additionally, after being fermented, tempeh needs to be vacuum packed to halt the fermentation process continuing. Otherwise, it would keep interacting with the oxygen in the air, happily fermenting away until it eventually spoils (tempeh is a very tricky business!). So, to extend tempeh’s shelf-life, reduce the likelihood of any spoilage and make it suitable for wider distribution, the use of plastic packaging is, unfortunately, currently necessary. However, we’re looking into using more eco-friendly materials and ways of offsetting our plastic footprint - we’ll keep you posted on this :)

Tempeh in glass jars is preserved differently to typical tempeh products. Due to this, it differs in texture and taste compared to fresh tempeh or tempeh that is vacuum packed. We want to stay as true as possible to the real deal and celebrate tempeh’s incredible meaty texture and great taste, which is why we produce and package our tempeh the way we do.

Our lupin beans are sourced from Germans and our soybeans are sourced from Brazil, all from organic, Pro Terra-certified farms.

Nope, none of our ingredients or products have hopped on a plane!

Our tempeh is produced in Europe :)

OUR TEAM

We are based in London in the UK, but our team works all over the world. We have team members in Bogor in Indonesia, Boston in the US, Maribor in Slovenia and Nottingham in the UK. We’re a company with proud Indonesian roots and a desire to give back to the incredible Indonesian culture that has given us the gift of tempeh, but with an international perspective, as reflected in our team!

We all fell in love with tempeh and plant-based eating for different reasons - some through environmental reasons, some through animal rights, some through health reasons, some through a passion for shining a spotlight on this incredible, often overlooked Indonesian food, and some a mix of them all! What brought us all together was simply a desire to encourage people to live life, the better way - better for people, the planet and animals. And what could be a better way to do this than tempeh?

We came up with the idea for the business at the end of 2018, but we didn’t finalise our name or brand until April 2019 so it’s been a bit of whirlwind since then!