Planet V review: Pumfu, a tofu alternative

A review of whether or not pumpkin seeds make a good tofu. Not so much. (Photo courtesy of Foodies Vegan)

It’s ironic that after decades of veg folk trying to sell the general public on the idea of tofu as a meat replacement that now, in 2020, we have a company trying to sell us on mashed pumpkin seeds as a tofu replacement.

There are reasons, of course: food allergies, a handful of studies showing negative effects of soy in large amounts (and an equal number of studies refuting those claims), plus a push back against monoculture and corporate farming. Soy products are not for everybody—and a company called Foodies Vegan is there to serve that niche.

Let’s leave the company seeking to trademark the word “Foodies” for another day and talk about the product. Pumfu is made of only pumpkin seeds and water, packed into a dense block similar to the firmest of firm tofus. That’s where the tofu similarity ends.

Pumfu’s light green color isn’t particularly off-putting: it’s made from ground seeds, after all. What’s off-putting are the bits of unblended seed in what’s ostensibly faux tofu. I’m one of those rare folks who enjoys tofu in its unseasoned, unmarinated form, but those bits of seed, as well as an unsettling and lingering bitter aftertaste, kept it from passing that first hurdle.

The packaging suggests Pumfu can be blended to make “creamy sauces, desserts, or smoothies.” It’s clear based on its firmness that Pumfu absolutely wouldn’t work in any of those scenarios.

So I fried it.

Pumfu is made of only pumpkin seeds and water, packed into a dense block similar to the firmest of firm tofus. That’s where the tofu similarity ends.

Knowing in advance that the aftertaste was likely to hit hard, I tried three different preparations: a control group of cubes fried lightly in vegetable oil, a set of cubes marinated in soy sauce for 15 minutes and a final group cooked in a commercial sweet and sour sauce.

The control group did not bode well for the rest of the experiment. Pumfu foams when it cooks. This may well be from its high fat content: one serving of Pumfu has 36% of the recommended daily allowance of fat. And for vegans, who don’t usually end up with much saturated fat in our diets, Pumfu’s 29% of daily recommended saturated fat is staggering. It’s got close to double the amount of protein as the same serving of tofu, but for me, that’s not a fair trade-off.

Back to the foaming blocks: They seared nicely despite (or because of?) the foam, but the aftertaste was just too much to bear. Test two: The marinade, was slightly better. Pumfu allowed the liquid to permeate reasonably well, but again that aftertaste. Same goes with the premade sauce: That acrid taste lingers. The indigestion also lingers: The unpleasant after-effects of my Pumfu dinner lasted until lunch the next day.

I’m disappointed because I have many friends with food allergies, and because Pumfu checks all the food-safety boxes: organic, soy-free, gluten-free and nut-free. I wish I could say nicer things because I’m also a big fan of food oddity. I hope somebody likes Pumfu, I really do. But between terrible flavor, high fat and lingering after-effects—I can’t imagine who that person might be.

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12 Comments on "Planet V review: Pumfu, a tofu alternative"

  1. Michele Oxlade | October 8, 2020 at 9:50 am | Reply

    I personally loved this product. Lightly fried in avocado oil and then tossed with a kale pesto. Delicious, much better than tofu and without the soy issue.

  2. Gotta say I don’t agree at all. Was pretty much identical to tofu in every way and had 0% taste of pumpkin

    • ….how can pumpkin seeds and water be bad????….and i don’t understand about the bits of seeds in the Pumfu. There are NO bits of seeds in the Pumfu that i have purchased. and it has a nice subtle flavor. i will continue to purchase it.

  3. this reads like a person who eats meat already making up their mind before eating it that the veggie alternative is gross and nothing like meat at all.

    Pumfu isn’t trying to replace tofu by claiming to be just like it. It isn’t made of mashed seeds either. Soybeans aren’t the only thing that curdle when blended into a “milk” and heated. The proteins separate. This is essentially pumpkin seed curd.

    Lastly, it’s not niche- aside from the price- in that it’s only catering to soy free people. It’s good to be able to get protein from many sources and pumpkin seeds are pretty high in protein for a seed as well as many great minerals like zinc. So all in all, adding this into your diet regardless of soy aversion, is a good thing.

    Personally, I use their sausage crumbles. But I enjoy the regular one as a scramble with veggies in the morning. As for the fat content, not all fat is created equal. The fat in pumpkin seeds are monounsaturated and omega 6 fats.

  4. Pumfu is one of the best products to hit the market in years. Try it dredged in Masala Chaat, fried in ghee, and glazed with soy sauce. Or bake it into crumbles and add to vegetable lasagna. It is absolutely scrumptious.

  5. personally I like this product. I use it in scramble for the chunky bit coupled with blended silken tofu for the creamy bit. lots of spices and veggies as well. I just recently air fried it with spices and ate it like that. Today I had air fried tofu and I will not be doing that again. The Pumfu beat out the extra firm tofu in texture. I do hesitate at the fat content but I need a lot of protein due to my workout routine. BTW: no chunks of seeds or bad aftertaste IMO.

  6. To me its delicious and I love it. Never noticed aftertaste…and if you can avoid fats from other sources then not so bad.

  7. I tried cubing and frying like I do tofu, and it turned out really good. It was a little firmer and a little more crumbly, and brought a subtle nutty flavor to the dish. I will try it in other dishes in place of tofu to cut down a little on the amount of soy I use.

  8. I 100% disagree with the foaming and the aftertaste. Maybe yours was expired? I just tried it for the first time and I think it has a very mild flavor. I crumbled it up and warmed it up in skillet with butter and put it on toast. Super easy and tasty. Also, no chunks or seeds were in mine at all.

  9. I literally wonder if you tried the same product I have called “pumfu”. It is DELICIOUS with a balsamic glaze on top (no cooking required). I LOVE IT. I do agree the saturated fat is crazy, and I need to discipline myself to never buy it again for that reason. For most meals, tofu is perfect. But for an occasional treat? Pumfu is absolutely divine.

  10. Totally disagree with this review. Pumfu is an absolute GAME CHANGER. Nobody can tell the difference from Tofu and it’s 10X better for you without the hormone altering properties of Soy (especially in this Country!) … Honestly one of my favorite products to hit the shelves in years. The Chorizo crumble version is amazing too with any pasta dish.

  11. I didn’t have that problem. I don’t know what you did wrong. I also used a different brand.

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