Tofu is a fairly common food in East and Southeast Asian cuisines, but it has also been making its way around vegetarian circles as a meat substitute. While it may be a more environmentally friendly source of protein than meat, it does have the unfortunate side effect of being fairly tedious to cook. To reach the right consistency, tofu requires hours of pressing to drain excess water, which tends to be tedious for most amateur cooks.
A team of students at HackMIT developed a contraption that incrementally presses tofu for you, using signals sent over WiFi to initialize the device. Several 3D-printed components extend an existing food container, along with a stepper motor, motor shield, Adafruit Feather HUZZAH, and a screen.
The motor steps at a rate of 30rpm once a signal is sent from a mobile application, causing four connected threaded rods to begin rotating. The tofu tray travels upwards to press against its lid, draining out excess water. A central gear box containers complementary cutouts that allow the tofu platform to travel vertically when shafts are rotated, pushed by nuts below the platform. The students also included a screen indicating time remaining, as well as a notification sent to the user once the tofu is finished being pressed.
It’s certainly a useful solution that will hopefully increase the popularity of tofu-based recipes!