Tofu whey
Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan (right) and PhD student Chua Jian Yong from the Food Science & Technology Programme of the NUS Faculty of Science. NUS

A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully turned tofu whey into a tasty alcoholic beverage.

The beverage, named Sachi, is derived from tofu whey, a liquid that is generated from the production of tofu and is often discarded, the university said in a statement Monday.

The creation of Sachi was initiated a year ago by Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan and his PhD student Chua Jian Yong. Both are from the Food Science and Technology Programme at the NUS Faculty of Science.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular food made from soybeans.

One of the most common methods of producing tofu is by curdling freshly boiled soya milk, cooling it, and pressing it into a solid block. During the pressing process to remove excess water, tofu whey is generated.

However, when tofu whey is discarded as an untreated waste, it creates environmental pollution as the protein and soluble sugars in the whey could contribute to oxygen depletion in the waterways.

In contrast, upcycling tofu whey can be a means of generating economic returns for businesses.

"The health benefits associated with soy products, coupled with changing preferences towards vegetarian diets, have fuelled the growth of tofu production, [increasing] the amount of tofu whey ... proportionally," said Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who embarked on the project a year ago with his PhD student.

The whole process of making the alcoholic beverage takes about three weeks.