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Unless you’re already a vegan, you may never have heard of aquafaba.
Actually, even if you are a vegan, you may not know about this ridiculous, yet sublime, new substitute for eggs.
If you consult books on vegan substitutions, you’ll find, depending on the recipe application, suggestions for commercial egg replacers like Ener-G, tofu, nondairy yogurt, ground flaxseed, and combinations of sweet and savory ingredients that can be combined to replicate the binding qualities of eggs and egg whites with varying success.
Egg replacement, in baking especially, has always been difficult in a vegan diet. While you can bind ingredients with many ingredients, none could produce dishes based on whipped eggs whites. Things like lemon meringue pie, macarons, buttercreams, and pound cake were sadly off limits. People tried to create vegan versions but they lacked the flavor and lightness of the use of egg white. Food scientists have worked for years to make passable vegan egg dishes, but creating them at home has been problematic.
Quite simply stated, aquafaba is the cooking water from chickpeas. You know how you open a can of chickpeas to make hummus and you drain the liquid into the sink?
Don’t do that anymore! That liquid can be used is endless dishes and I promise you that you will never taste the beans in the final product.
Zsu Dever’s book “Aquafaba” recounts the (very recent) history of aquafaba’s development. Her book, the first on the subject gives you an excellent grounding on aquafaba and its uses, as well as some really wonderful recipes. Devers was a guest speaker during my Essential Vegan Desserts course and some of the task recipes came from this book.
In a surprisingly short period of time, aquafaba has gained a huge following on social media and recipes and failures alike are shared in Facebook groups.
I’ve used aquafaba to make cakes, baked alaska, pavlovas, meringue cookies, and kneff , my favorite comfort food.
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are not the only beans that can be used to produce aquafaba. People have found great success with milder cannelinni beans and even black beans to make aquafaba for different applications.
Try to find salt-free beans if you can. You can even buy dried beans and cook them yourself. Save and reduce the liquid and use the beans in hummus, salads and stews.
Turning the liquid from a can of beans into usable aquafaba is ridiculously easy. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and note the volume. Pour it into a small pan and simmer it until it is reduced to half of the original volume. Refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. It can keep in a closed container for several days and can even be frozen.
While aquafaba shines in its whipped applications, creating a very stable and airy “beaten egg white” that can be rewhipped as needed, it also creates very true-to-original frittatas, pancakes, and mayonnaise.
Launching in late April, 2017, Aquafabulous by Rebecca Coleman is a sleek, gorgeously photographed book with new recipes and a glossy format that clearly announces that aquafaba is not longer the new vegan kid on the blog. It has arrived! Other books include Katya Johansson’s Aquafaba – Egg Free Revolution and Kelsey Kinser’s Baking Magic with Aquafaba.
Whether you are a vegan looking to expand your recipe repertoire or someone who needs to reduce or eliminate dairy and eggs from your diet, you need to try aquafaba. This humble ingredients, thrown away by most people, magically transforms food into the dishes you have long denied yourself.
Pick up a book on aquafaba and learn the magic for yourself. When a simple bean can give you this, you owe it to yourself to learn its spells!