Ever opened a can of chickpeas and just dumped the starchy leftover liquid down the drain? Well, turns out this thick, viscous liquid is a near-perfect plant-based substitute for eggs.
A little history
Way, way back… in 2015 a guy named Goose and his 45,000 person Facebook group agreed on the term ‘aquafaba’, combined from the Latin words for ‘bean’ and ‘water’ (in the other order) and he went ahead and registered the name as a URL. That's right; there's an official site for aquafaba. Goose and his wife got the idea to use bean water in place of eggs from French cook Joel Roessel’s vegan meringue tutorial.
Technically aquafaba is the term that covers all bean water but our fav cooks over at America’s Test Kitchen have suggested that in the world of plant-based baking, the king of all bean liquids comes from the humble chickpea.
What is it?
It’s the liquid from a can of chickpeas or the liquid left over after cooking chickpeas. For ease of use, it’s best to use canned chickpea water; to boil your own you may have to cook it down until it gets to a thicker consistency that you can work with, which takes extra time. See below for a link to making homemade aquafaba. After straining your chickpeas to obtain the aquafaba you can set aside the legumes to use in another recipe (like Deli-Style Chickpea Salad).
What’s it used for?
Aquafaba can be used as an egg replacer in baked goods, plant-based mayo, homemade icing, egg-free whiskey sours and probably a host of other recipes we have yet to explore since its use has only recently been discovered.
How do I whip it?
To whip aquafaba for baked goods or whipped icing, add a small amount of cream of tartar (a gluten-free nondairy acidic powdery byproduct of winemaking that’s used mainly in baking powder); use a hand mixer to whip the mixture in a deep bowl with high sides until the whipped chickpea water becomes stiff peaks (approximately 6 minutes or so).
The cream of tartar prevents the proteins in the chickpea liquid from bonding too tightly which helps to create a foam that traps air bubbles and water and holds them in place. This means adding cream of tartar helps the whipped aquafaba to stay whipped longer, instead of deflating back into liquid, and when baked, helps baked goods achieve more height and better doming as well as boosting the leavener in baked recipes which contributes to a fluffier crumb.
How much aquafaba do I need?
One 15oz can of chickpeas has approximately ¾ cup of chickpea water. Even a recipe such as plant-based meringues that relies on aquafaba in place of the eggs which are the main ingredient (besides sugar), only needs about ½ cup of aquafaba. That means you’re pretty much always going to have extra aquafaba - unless you’re making several batches of something. It makes the most sense to freeze your leftover aquafaba for future use.
How do I store it?
Aquafaba can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for seven days or in ice cube form (in individual tablespoon size) in the freezer for 1 month. Once the aquafaba ice cubes are frozen you can keep them in a baggy (so you can use your ice cube container for actual ice). You can thaw frozen aquafaba by leaving it in the refrigerator for about 10 hours, or by heating on the stove for 1 minute or so.
How much aquafaba is 1 egg’s worth?
It’s generally best to follow a recipe that’s already been adjusted and tested, unless you like going the trial and error method. But usually:
1 egg yolk = 1 Tablespoon of aquafaba
1 egg white = 2 Tablespoons of aquafaba
1 whole egg = 3 Tablespoons of aquafaba.
If the objective is to shoot for airy baked goods with good height and dome and a fluffy crumb, you’re going to want to whip your aquafaba with ¼ tsp cream of tartar per each Tablespoon of aquafaba. So, if you were converting a baked goods recipe that calls for three eggs, you’re looking at 9 Tablespoons of aquafaba and 2 ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar.
What’s the nutritional value?
While there is still scientific testing and experimenting going on to determine what the level of nutrition of aquafaba actually is, it’s safe to say that it’s more or less the watered down nutritional content of chickpeas. For instance, while 1 egg has 10 grams of protein, aquafaba has 1 gram. But it’s important to note that we’re not endorsing aquafaba for it’s nutritional content - that’s negligible at best. We’re promoting it for it’s great egg substituting value.
While it sounds a little unconventional, this egg substitute is easy enough for a beginner cook to figure out, tasteless so no one’s going to be wondering where that bean flavor is coming from in your Blueberry Muffins, super cheap and easily accessible (you can get a can of chickpeas for like 49 cents at a general grocery store).
What recipes have you tried using aquafaba? Which recipes would you like to see us convert using aquafaba? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’d like to know how to make your own chickpeas, to avoid any chemicals that might be present in canned chickpeas, we suggest checking out Forks Over Knives’ Homemade Aquafaba post.
Here are a few of the sources we used for the info in this post:
Goldberg, Elissa. (2016, May 10). Everything You Need to Know About Aquafaba, the Vegan Wonder Ingredient. Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/aquafaba-health-benefits.
Shultz, Dana. (2017). A Guide to Aquafaba. Retrieved from https://minimalistbaker.com/a-guide-to-aquafaba/.
The Editors’ at America’s Test Kitchen. (2017). Vegan For Everybody. pp. 34-37. Brookline, MA: America’s Test Kitchen.