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Today I’m going to tell you about my method to make this magical liquid, the very famous and feared Aquafaba, in a homemade and infallible way, which in recent years has transformed vegan pastry, taking it to highly professional levels comparable to its non-vegan counterpart, for its ability to be whipped to make meringue.
But what is this popular Aquafaba all about? How is it possible? What does? I will try to answer most of the doubts that this mysterious word may generate for you, very mentioned on YouTube and in vegan recipes.
What is Aquafaba and what does it mean?
Aquafaba, or chickpea juice, is no other than the cooking water of these legumes. Hence the origin of its name: Aqua (water) Faba (beans) referring to the wide range of legumes and beans.
Chickpea Aquafaba is usually the most common variant, although it’s possible to use other legumes and its effectiveness is just as proven, for a matter of color and clarity I prefer the traditional one made with chickpeas. If it’s a question of using the canned beans liquid, I’ve also used with a very high success rate, the white beans called “cannellini” in Italy or burro in Chile.
Due to a very common confusion, I want to clarify that it isn’t the soaking water of the grains, but the water obtained after cooking, with the soaking water you can always water the plants if you have an obsession with not wasting water like us.
This viscous liquid can be used as it comes, or reduced by boiling it over medium heat to make it a little thicker and then chilling it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cold works much better for me than at room temperature, but everyone will draw their own conclusions about it.
I understand that the impatience to see if it works is a lot, but for an optimal result from start to finish, all the steps must be followed very carefully and thoroughly.
Finally, what is Aquafaba? and what does it do? It is a slightly thick and yellowish liquid, with a texture similar to egg white that has a certain amount of proteins released by cooking and soaking chickpeas, these proteins are enough to trap air when whipped vigorously and create the stable foam we call meringue.
Amazing, right? It’s probably the same foam that turns white during cooking, floating on the surface that we must remove or the pot overflows and the kitchen becomes a disaster (do not worry that removing that, you aren’t taking away the effectiveness of the Aquafaba).
Can Aquafaba replace eggs?
The answer is yes and… no. An egg is made up of white and yolk. The white is this clear viscous liquid with a good protein content and almost no fat content that to some extent compares to Aquafaba.
The yolks, on the other hand, contains some proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and lecithins, which aren’t present in our miracle juice, but which are equally replaceable with other plant-based ingredients.
In short, Aquafaba can replace egg whites, where it’s used for its power to be whipped and as a moisturizing agent with a small protein intake that provides a small elasticity.
Some recipes where you can use Aquafaba:
- Cookies, soletas, suspiros and vegan biscuits
- Vegan meringues
- Vegan macarons (Yes, what you just read)
- Vegan pavlova
- Enriched vegan bread (Brioche bread, crumb bread, sweet bread, mexican Conchas, cinnamon rolls)
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Egg-free dressings
- Marshmallows without egg or gelatin
- Vegan nougat
- Vegan royal icing
- Vegan meringue buttercream or cake frosting
Recipes where the Aquafaba doesn’t replace by itself the egg whites, because it lacks thickening and coagulant properties to maintain the structure of an extra light sponge cake and nutritionally lacks sufficient protein content to be used as a nutritional ingredient:
- Sponge cake (vegan genoise)
- Protein biscuits with a high egg white content
- Protein shakes
Watch this little video of how to make meringue with Aquafaba in just 5 minutes:
Does Aquafaba leave a chickpea flavor in preparations?
Short answer, no. In meringue, as in cookies, the proportion of Aquafaba is laughable compared to the amount of sugar and other ingredients, as in mayo, the ratio of Aquafaba / oil. You won’t taste any particular flavour, but if you’re skeptical, you can always dress up with a little vanilla essence in sweet preparations. Look for the transparent one, don’t ruin the perfect white color of your meringue 😉
How do I get Aquafaba?
The quickest way to get Aquafaba is straight from a can of chickpeas or navy beans. Why does it work? The chickpeas are steamed at a low temperature for a long time, then they are submerged in the same cooking liquid inside the can, releasing even more protein in this liquid. Some people disagree with its use, since they distrust the use of additives for preservation, but then I compare it to how harmful the egg industry can be and I just forget it.
To be honest, the liquid in the can is a guaranteed success for most of the uses you might need: mayonnaise, meringue, cakes. But constantly buying cans for this use doesn’t seem like a sustainable option to me. In Chile, I remember some legumes in tetrapak format, but cooking from dried legumes was more common.
And then there is the environment. Because yes, sadly there are countries where recycling is still non-existent, a can goes to the same place as a tetrapak, plastic or glass, which makes me doubt every time I open and discard a container. In a vegan diet, since the consumption of legumes is essential, with the cans that I put together to feed ourselves in a week, in 2 months I can build a castle.
Personally, I prefer to make it at home, where at least I can pronounce the ingredients I’m using, but it’s a very personal decision, not everyone has the time and patience that I have at this stage of my life.
In Italy aluminum is recycled but we like the idea of reducing more than recycling and well with this pandemic crisis, shopping at the supermarket is a luxury that you cannot afford very often.
Homemade aquafaba, always better
- 2 cups soaked chickpeas
- 4 cups water
- 4 g salt
- The night before, let the chickpeas soak for 6-8 hours or overnight, you can also do it first thing in the morning and cook them in the afternoon. It all depends on your schedules.
- Rinse the soaked chickpeas, measure the amount in cups and add them to the pot, doubling the volume in water (e.g., 1 cup of chickpeas / 2 cups of water) in case of using salt, use just a little bit as it can be noticed in sweets preparations, and some people don't like that. You can salt the chickpeas later in the preparations.
- If you use a pressure cooker, once the vent starts releasing steam, in 12 minutes the chickpeas will have the perfect consistency, then I uncover them and finish the cooking uncovered to evaporate some of the water. In a normal pot over medium heat it could take between 40 minutes to an hour depending on the freshness of the chickpeas. It's necessary to remove the white foam that forms on the surface or it can cause a mess. In a slow cooker, they can easily take 10 hours, but it's a sure way to skip the post-soaking step.
- After cooking, let the chickpeas cool in their own water (which at this point should have been reduced to almost a cup) and then transfer them to a container with a lid and chill in the refrigerator overnight or several hours.
- The next day, strain the chickpeas and use them in your recipes, hummus, curries, stews, vegan cheese, chickpea "tuna", etc. The remaining slightly thick golden liquid is your precious Aquafaba.
- You can keep it in a jar for up to 4 days in the fridge, but a better option is to freezing it in the form of ice cubes to ensure you don't lose even a drop.
Preparation ideas with Aquafaba
If you’re looking for a place to find recipes with Aquafaba, I can’t recommend enough this Facebook group, which has helped me a lot to improve my recipes with this ingredient.
I hope this post has been useful for you to better understand what Aquafaba is. After this introduction you can review these recipes where I use Aquafaba. I’ll be uploading new ones as I refine my own recipes.
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