If you’ve been paying attention to the food world over the past several months, you may have encountered the miraculous discovery of aquafaba. In case you don’t know, aquafaba is the liquid that you find in cans of chickpeas (and other legumes). Aquafaba translates to “bean water” and was discovered by a community of people (but largely Goose Wohlt and Joël Roessel). It is my new favorite ingredient for replacing eggs, and I’m kind of obsessed. Not much is known about the nutritional/chemical breakdown of aquafaba yet, but here are a few things you should know about this magical liquid.
Substituting for eggs
3 tablespoons of aquafaba replaces 1 whole (large) egg.
2 tablespoons of aquafaba replaces 1 egg white.
Uses for aquafaba
Aquafaba whips up like egg whites and can be used for meringues, pavlovas, and marshmallows, and it can also be used in its liquid form in some baking applications. People are still experimenting to find all the uses for aquafaba, but so far I have personally used it as a replacement in quick breads and cookies, and I’ve made mozzarella cheese that melted beautifully on a pizza. I’m looking forward to more experimentation, but I recommend joining the Vegan Meringues Facebook group if you are interested in learning more. One great thing about aquafaba, compared to egg whites, is that you can’t really overwhip it.
Be wary, though. Because aquafaba is so new to the culinary world, not all its uses have been discovered and it’s not entirely scientific. Replacing large quantities of egg whites, like in angel food cake, hasn’t worked for anyone so far. When we tried to use it to replace eggs in a non-vegan cornbread recipe, the cornbread wouldn’t set up in the middle. So if you’re experimenting, be prepared for some failures, or use a recipe that has already been tested with aquafaba!
Does it taste like beans?
Aquafaba kind of has a funky smell, but don’t let that scare you. Once it’s whipped or used in baked goods, I haven’t detected any bean-like flavor. Even in the meringues, which were just aquafaba and sugar (and a little vanilla). Some people are more sensitive, so if you find the chickpea aquafaba to be too aggressive, the aquafaba from cannellini beans is more neutral.
Where to Get Aquafaba
The easiest and fastest way to get aquafaba is to buy a can of chickpeas, and drain the liquid through a sieve into a container. If you can find unsalted or low-sodium canned chickpeas, all the better. I typically use regularly salted canned chickpeas, and I don’t think it has made desserts too salty, but you could always reduce the salt in the recipe if you find it necessary.
If you want to avoid the preservatives, additives and/or BPA that is often found in canned chickpeas, you can always make your own! See the recipe below for instructions on how to do it.
I’ve successfully used aquafaba from the refrigerator for up to a week. If I need to store it longer than that, I like to divide it among ice cube trays and freeze it. Putting 1 tablespoon into each slot in the ice cube tray makes measuring easy.
- 4 cups dried chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 cups water
- Place chickpeas and salt in the insert of a slow cooker. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Pour the boiling water over the chickpeas. Cook on low for 9-10 hours, until the chickpea liquid is about 1/2-inch above the chickpeas. Turn off the slow cooker and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours. As the chickpeas and liquid cool, the chickpeas will absorb a bit more of the liquid and it will just cover the top of the chickpeas. The liquid will become viscous and gel-like as it cools.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the chickpeas out, catching the aquafaba in the bowl. Transfer the aquafaba to jars or other covered container. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.*
- *Consider freezing the liquid in 1-2 tablespoon amounts in ice cube trays for easy thawing and measuring.