When you next open a chickpeas can, do not pour the liquid down the drain. This liquid is now referred to as “aquafaba” and has recently become an online sensation. It has become especially popular within the vegan diet as it makes a good alternative to eggs and dairy in mayonnaise and meringue. Although aquafaba was invented a little over one year ago, it is blowing up among the ever-increasing vegan population.
In fact, there are some restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Nix, New York that have already incorporated it in their cooking. And aquafaba is also being used as a way of making cocktails and foams from materials made from plants.
According to recent media reports from New York Magazine, Eater, Serious Eats and New York Times, which sang praises on the wonders of this liquid, this will be the year that aquafaba hits it big.
What is Aquafaba?
It is the thick liquid you get after cooking or soaking legumes like chickpeas, lentils, peas, and beans in water for a long time. However, it seems to work best when derived from beans and chickpeas. It is also the liquid that you get from the canned versions of these foods.
This liquid has become the silver bullet in most vegan cooking circles in making great whiskey sours and airy meringues without eggs. After a little whipping, aquafaba develops a fluffy texture that resembles whipped cream, egg whites, or milk foam.
While it is not common to find a food having its own URL, this liquid does have its own: Aquafaba.com. It was registered in 2015 by Goose Wohlt, a software engineer based in Central Indiana, after his efforts along with 45,000 members of a Facebook group (Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses), settled on this name. Decided upon after a long Googling spree, the name is a combination of the Latin words for bean (faba) and water (aqua). It was then reversed to aquafaba.
Uses & Benefits
Aquafaba is mostly used as an egg white replacement by vegans. It consists of proteins, carbohydrates, and soluble plant solids, which will have migrated from the legume seeds into the water when they are cooked. A wide spectrum of foaming, gelatinizing, thickening, and emulsifying properties are thus offered by the unique combination of all these ingredients.
Recommended use is to replace one medium egg white with two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of this liquid in a recipe. There are also a number of sweet applications resulting from directly substituting egg whites successfully: macarons; meringues; icing; fudge; nougat; marshmallows; and ice cream.
Additionally, in term's of our carbon footprint, aquafaba's use is being encouraged in a number of restaurants as it has helped in the reduction of food waste.
It is possible to creatively inject this liquid into a number of recipes. For example, it can be used to create Vegan meringues (which is where all the fun started with this liquid). You can also use it to come up with Pavlova, lemon meringue pie, and Mousse au chocolat. It can also be taken in the form of fudge, nougat, baked Alaska, buttercream, strawberry ice cream, brownies, gluten-free cinnamon blondies, and macarons.
A number of health benefits are associated with the use of aquafaba. It helps people who are not capable of metabolizing proteins properly to digest them. As it is a plant-based food, it assists in normalizing the blood sugar level and lowering the body cholesterol. It is rich in pectins, antioxidants, and sapponins, which are very useful in improving various cardiovascular disorders.
This liquid is also packed with amino acids, essential minerals, fatty acids, and vitamins. All these are important as they help in supporting healthy metabolic function and digestion. When aquafaba is used as an egg replacement in desserts and baked items, it helps enable you to avoid the risk of contracting food-borne illnesses that are a result of raw egg whites.
Risks & Side Effects
You should stay away from Aquafaba if you have an allergy to legumes or suffer from gout or have higher uric acid levels. You should also not include it in your diet if you suffer from nausea or bloating, as well as headaches, after consuming it.
It is also important to note that this liquid contains only one tenth of the protein contained in egg whites for each given weight. This difference is beneficial to people who have issues in metabolizing proteins properly. However, it is not recommended for use in food applications which heavily rely on egg protein for their structure.
Top Aquafaba Products
Apart from the various new recipes that have been created from this wonderful liquid, other brands have also joined the bandwagon and produced their variations based on it.
One such brand is the Sir Kensington Fabanaise, a mayonnaise substitute made for vegans from aquafaba. It is expected that it will be a savory and creamy sandwich spread or a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables and crudités.
Lastly, even though aquafaba does not yet qualify to be classified as a super food, it will not hurt you if you use it as part of your vegan diet. It will definitely allow you to do a lot of new things in the kitchen as shown by the various recipes put forward under its uses, which you could only do with egg whites in the past.
A number of people may argue that there are no conclusive research findings regarding this liquid, especially since it only recently started gaining traction. However, a vibrant community on Facebook regarding this liquid contributes largely to facilitate the research on this liquid in order to ascertain its nutrition analysis.
Further research is clearly needed in order to reveal if there are any antioxidants, beneficial compounds, and B vitamins that could have been skipped or were not included in the first analysis.
However, for now, aquafaba’s biggest benefits remain having low calories, being natural and gluten-free, plant based, and its capability to mimic the consistency found in ingredients such as dairy and eggs for people who need or choose to avoid them.