Tempeh in a shoe box

Smiling Hara began in a shoebox. Yancey says she was hooked after she tried the fresh tempeh.

With a little patience, you can grow your own tempeh in an incubator. The process requires a live culture to get going, but in Asheville, they’re easy to find. Check out the French Broad Food Co-op on Biltmore Avenue or Small Terrain in West Asheville.

Tempeh comes from Indonesia, where it’s warm enough for the culture to grow without artificial heat, so unless your house stays between 88 and 91 degrees, you’ll need to devise a small incubator. Don’t worry: an incubator can be a shoe box next to your radiator, an insulated container with hot water bottles or a heat lamp from an aquarium.

Cultures for Life brand starters, which are sold at the locations mentioned above, come with instructions to guide you through the whole process and plenty of suggestions for how to keep the tempeh toasty.

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