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How is tofu made?
Traditionally, tofu is made by soaking, crushing, and cooking soybeans into a soymilk or "slurry," then adding a coagulant (usually calcium sulfate or calcium chloride and GDL). The soymilk coagulates into a large block of tofu that is cut into smaller blocks and packed in water-filled tubs.
Morinaga, however, has brought tofu into the new millennium by inventing a patented "aseptic" system that removes light, air, and bacteria from the picture. In this process, the soybeans are crushed, and the rich slurry is pasteurized and poured into the package. A small amount of gluconolactone and calcium chloride is added to the soymilk. The box is then hermetically sealed and the tofu forms inside - where it is continuously protected from light, air, and microorganisms that cause spoilage. The result? A 100% guaranteed pure product that tastes as fresh as the day it was made.
What is gluconolactone (GDL) and is it gluten-free?
Gluconolactone (GDL) is a gluten-free, fermented food starch derived from corn. Once processed into a pure white, crystalline powder, it carries none of the characteristics of corn. It has been used to make cottage cheese and bread for many years. The final product can be found in its natural state in bee's honey. When a small amount is mixed with calcium chloride, these salts act to coagulate the soymilk into creamy silken tofu.
Why does the Morinaga package say "Do Not Freeze"? I thought you could freeze tofu to give it a more "meat-like" texture.
Yes, you can freeze and thaw Morinaga Silken Tofu to give it a more dense, chewy, and meat-like texture. After freezing at least 48 hours, tofu has a texture similar to a fish filet, chicken breast, or red meat. The instructions on the package "Do Not Freeze" mean that you should not freeze the tofu INSIDE THE PACKAGE ITSELF. The package could swell and burst in the freezer, creating a big mess.
For best freezing results: First remove Morinaga Silken Tofu from the package. Slice lengthwise in 1/4-inch thick strips and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for a few days (at least 24 hours). We recommend preparing and freezing several packages-worth at once. Then you can thaw as needed like frozen cutlets. When you thaw these tofu "cutlets" in the microwave or in warm water, the ice will fall off, leaving a tofu that has a meat-like appearance. Marinate in any thick sauce (like teriyaki, sweet & sour, or barbecue sauce), then broil, bake, or even grill on the BBQ!
The longer Morinaga Silken Tofu is frozen, the better the results will be. However, we do not recommend eating tofu that has been frozen for more than 60 days.
How is "silken" tofu different from the spongier Chinese-style tofu?
Long ago, the tofu (called "kinugoshi") of the emperor and royal court required special preparation by skilled Japanese artisans. The result was a delicately flavored tofu with a texture so smooth and creamy, it seemed to have been strained through silk.
Today, the texture of silken tofu is generally smoother and creamier and its water content is slightly higher than dense, spongy tub tofu (or "momen" in Japanese). You can use extra firm silken tofu for stir-fry, but you can also blend the firm or soft versions of Morinaga Silken Tofu for creamy and delicious smoothies, shakes, desserts, dips, and sauces. Or crumble the firm tofu into eggless scrambles or pasta fillings.
Why the little box?
The "little box" we use (made under a joint patent by Tetra-Pak and Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. of Japan) is better known as the box that holds kids' juices. But it is really a wonder of science. It was voted the "#1 food science innovation of the past 50 years" by the prestigious Institute of Food Technologists in Chicago.
The IFT praises the package because it helps in the "retention of nutrients and flavor" and "protects from bacterial contamination." In short, it locks in the good and locks out the bad. Morinaga is proud to be one of the pioneers in this "Technology of the New Millennium." The landmark Tellus Study found aseptic packaging to be a most "earth friendly" form of packaging. The weight of the package is far less than the weight of the food inside. The package preserves the food entirely so there is no spoilage or waste. The package also does not need to be refrigerated, therefore reducing the use of refrigerants overall.
How long can I keep Morinaga Silken Tofu in the unopened box?
Morinaga Silken Tofu has a shelf-life of one year. The "best used by" date printed on the package represents one year to the day after it was made. That is, a tofu package marked best used by "DEC 31 12" was made on December 31, 2011. We do not recommend eating any Morinaga products after the "best used by" date.
You do not need to refrigerate Morinaga Silken Tofu until the package is opened. For best results, store in a cool, dry place like your pantry or cupboard.
I bought Morinaga Silken Tofu from the refrigerated section of my store. Can I still store it in the pantry or cupboard at home?
Some retailers stock Morinaga Silken Tofu in the refrigerated section next to the other tofu that requires refrigeration. The location is just for convenience, so shoppers can find all the tofu (or soyfoods) in one spot. If you buy Morinaga Silken Tofu from a refrigerated section, you may still store it at home in your pantry or cupboard until opened.
How long can I keep Morinaga Silken Tofu after opening the box?
Refrigerate any unused portions promptly in an airtight container and use within 2-3 days maximum. You should not cover Morinaga Silken Tofu with water. As a source of protein, tofu is highly perishable once removed from the airtight package. To avoid foodborne illness, we do not recommend eating leftover tofu after 3 days.
What different types of tofu do you have?
Original Silken Tofu (Soft, Firm, and Extra Firm)
Silken Lite Tofu (Firm)
Organic Silken Tofu (Firm)
Extra Firm can be used for stir-fry, Firm works well for scramblers and desserts, and Soft is great for dips and smoothies. Lite is mild in flavor and low in calories (30) and fat (only 1 gram) per serving. Use Lite in place of original varieties in any recipe. Blend Lite with Mori-Nu Mates Pudding Mix for irresistible low-fat desserts. Nigari is great for traditional Japanese dishes. Every texture is suitable for an endless list of recipes!
Where can I buy Morinaga Silken Tofu?
For a list of stores that may carry Morinaga products, please visit our Where to Buy page.
Most fine health food stores in the USA (not pill or supplement shops, but stores that actually stock food items) carry Morinaga products. A growing number of supermarkets also carry Morinaga Silken Tofu in the produce or natural department. We're sorry, but we are not always able to tell you exactly where Morinaga products are sold. We sell our products via brokers and distributors who in turn sell to retailers. Ask the store manager for "Morinaga" products by name and more often than not, your store will carry them. If they don't, ask the store manager to order for you. Retailers may call us at (800) 669-8638 for a list of distributors.
Where can I get more of your recipes?
Visit our Recipes page. Or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Morinaga Nutritional Foods, Inc., 3838 Del Amo Blvd., Suite 201, Torrance, CA 90503 and ask for our free recipe brochure and coupons.
What's all this soy research about?
In October 1999, the FDA authorized the use of a health claim on food products like Morinaga Silken Tofu that contain soy protein. Scientific studies show that eating 25 grams of soy protein daily, along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.
For years university studies have shown a positive connection between the consumption of soyfoods and the reduction of the risk of heart disease and the hardening of arteries. The substitution of vegetable protein (from soybeans) for animal protein can do much to reduce the clogging of our arteries. Not only is soy protein free of any cholesterol itself, it also helps to reduce the cholesterol that has accumulated in our bodies from other sources (mainly from dairy and animal fat). In addition, studies into diabetes have also revealed a positive impact against this disease by substituting the soy protein of tofu for animal proteins.
More studies into sub-nutrients like soy isoflavones have established a strong connection between the consumption of soyfoods and the reduction of the risk of many types of cancer. This research is ongoing -- but it is encouraging to realize that in China, Japan, and all other tofu consuming countries, people suffer only 10% of the cancer and heart disease we suffer from here in the USA. In addition, in Japan, there is no word for the term "hot flash" -- the symptoms of menopause are almost non-existent! So, a serving of tofu or two each day is certainly well advised. Now some studies are even showing that the calcium loss leading to osteoporosis can be reduced with a diet high in soy isoflavones. There's always been a good reason for eating tofu.
What is the total soy isoflavone level in tofu?
Like most tofu, Morinaga Silken Tofu contains about 15-30 mg of total soy isoflavones per serving. (Note: The FDA has set the serving size as 3 ounces, about 1/4 of a box of Mori-Nu Silken Tofu, but most of our regular Morinaga customers eat an average of 1/2 box per day in scrambles, smoothies, or stir-fry.) Keep in mind that every crop of soybeans varies naturally in its level of isoflavones - making it difficult to state isoflavone levels with complete accuracy.
Food safety: contaminants, bacteria, and pesticides?
Tofu, like all moist protein, is considered to be "potentially hazardous" by the FDA unless it is packaged carefully and kept under refrigeration. In Japan, the tofu is thrown out if it becomes even two or three days old! That's because the Japanese are serious about fresh tofu and they know that spoiled tofu can ruin your whole day.
Here in the United States, tofu is distributed sometimes thousands of miles from where it was made. Even tofu that has been pasteurized at the factory can go bad in transit or on the shelf. That's why Morinaga uses aseptic packaging. We know that this vital food is vulnerable to bacterial contamination and spoilage from contact with light or air. So we use the very best in modern packaging and processing techniques. At our factory, we test every day to ensure each package of Morinaga Silken Tofu is 100% pure and free of bacteria and contaminants. Our long-time customers have learned to trust Morinaga, the Mori-Nu brand, and the tofu we make.
How much tofu should I consume each day?
In Japan and throughout much of Asia, tofu is consumed on a daily basis. The FDA uses 3 ounces (85 grams) as a suggested serving size here in the USA; but this is because, meat, another protein source, traditionally uses this serving size. Obviously, meat has a much higher fat and calorie level. In the case of tofu, where the calorie and fat levels are much lower, many health professionals believe six ounces (about half a package of Morinaga Silken Tofu) a day is fine. At Morinaga, we believe a well-rounded diet -- including soyfoods and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables -- is a healthy diet. If you have questions about the diet that best suits you and your lifestyle, please consult your personal physician.
I've heard that tofu is hard to digest - Is that true?
Pure soy flour or soybeans themselves can be more difficult to digest because of certain elements in the bean itself. But tofu and other processed soyfoods are far easier to digest. In fact, many long-time Morinaga fans say that they never have a problem with Morinaga Silken Tofu. This may be due to the coagulant we use. Food scientists tell us that the gluconolactone we use transforms into a form of glucose in the human digestive tract and this may aid in better digestion.
I've heard a lot of positive things about tofu, but also some negative things about soy. What are the facts?
Tofu was one of the first processed foods known to humans. It has been consumed for well over a thousand years. It has stood the test of time and gained a well-deserved reputation in Asian medical and culinary circles. With reports lately about soy's health benefits, some people believe more of a good thing would be better. Not necessarily so! Many companies are trying to pack higher numbers of soy isoflavones into pricey supplement pills. Some soy research indicates that mega-doses of isoflavones may not be advised. In contrast, the natural "plant estrogen" in soybeans (and thus tofu) is found in small amounts and is quite weak. We believe the best way to get nutrients and sub-nutrients is the natural way - in foods like tofu that have proven safe and effective over centuries of use.
Which Morinaga products are gluten-free?
All Morinaga Silken Tofu and Mates pudding/pie mixes are gluten-free! We have a strict allergen policy at our factory (and in fact, no products or ingredients containing gluten are even manufactured in the same facility), and our finished products are routinely tested for gluten.
Where is Morinaga Silken Tofu made?
All Morinaga Silken Tofu is made in the USA, near Portland, Oregon. All of the ingredients are from the United States, except the gluconolactone, which is made in France from non- genetically-modified cornstarch.
What is the shelf life guaranteed for food products sold in the online store at www.morinu.com?
We guarantee at least a six (6) month shelf-life on all food products sold in the online store at www.morinu.com.
What if I need to return or request a refund for products purchased in the online store at www.morinu.com?