Aquafaba, the golden liquid left over from cooking legumes is truly an alchemist’s dream. Like spinning straw into gold, spinning bean water into meringues is just as unlikely and magical.
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Skip to the bottom of this post if you want to see all of my recipes so far that use aquafaba!
Any legume (chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, white beans, black eyed peas, soy beans etcetera) will produce a liquid that holds the ability to whip although some are more stable. You can even use the liquid you would normally drain off from a box of tofu. I find that chick pea liquid is the most versatile and has the least beany taste. I save black bean liquid for savory applications.
Joël Roessel, a french tenor, was the first to connect the dots between the froth that forms when you cook legumes and the egg white like texture of cooled “bean juice”. Like Prometheus bring fire to mankind, Joel whipped up the first aquafaba chocolate mousse.
Let’s take a moment of silent gratitude to Joël.
An american by the name of Goose Wohlt (and what a cool name it is) picked up the torch and furthered investigations into this golden liquid he even gave us the word: Aquafaba.
Aquafaba was that missing link for those of us who yearned to taste cruelty free meringues, marshmallows and macarons. Before the discovery of aquafaba some were making meringues with flax seeds but they were to my palate odd and unconvincing. This became a Holy Grail of ingredients for vegans as they could suddenly whip up mayonnaise and mousses with abandon.
There is a marvelous Facebook Group called Aquafaba (Vegan Meringues Hits and Misses). They are an amazing, inclusive, helpful innovative bunch of people. I highly recommend you check them out.
Reducing your Aquafaba
One small can (15 ounces) of chick peas usually renders me a bit over 3/4 of a cup. I like to reduce even my canned aquafaba as viscosity is key to most recipes. Here is how I do it. I place my aquafaba in a pyrex measuring cup and place it in the microwave. After 5 minutes in my microwave on high 3/4 cups has reduced to 1/2 cup and is perfect for most recipes. It will thicken as it cools. Of course you can reduce aquafaba on the stove in a sauce pan as well, I am a little absent minded and sometimes reduce my precious golden liquid until it is but a whisper in a burnt pan. For my recipes I always mean fairly thick aquafaba. If you are using straight from a can just reduce it by 25%, about a 10 minute simmer on the stove or use my microwave hack above.
Salted or Unsalted?
I prefer to start with unsalted aquafaba for sweet applications as I like to be able to control the amount of saltiness in my recipes. That being said if you only have canned salted beans on hand I doubt anyone will notice the difference in most applications even this rich chocolate cake.
Homemade or canned aquafaba?
Homemade aquafaba pros :
- Way cheaper to cook in bulk
- You can control the salt and additive level.
- Less environmental impact
- You can cook up a huge batch of whichever legumes you like and freeze both the aquafaba and legumes in measured amounts.
Canned beans pros:
- Convenience: it is great to have a couple of cans on hand for those last minute baking sprees.
Make your own homemade aquafaba
If you have your own tried and true method for cooking chickpeas stick with it and skip my “recipe”.
Remember the older the bean/chickpea the longer it takes to cook.
Quick Soak: Take 1 pound of dry chickpeas and place them in a large pot. Pour in enough water to cover the legumes. Place your pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Allow to sit/soak for 1 hour.
Drain and rinse the beans and place them back in the pot covered with fresh water. Fill the pot with until the water level is about 3 inches above the level of the chickpeas. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer with the lid sightly ajar for 1 1/2 hours or until desired tenderness is reached. If you want a super viscous aquafaba then let the chickpeas to sit in the cooking liquid over night.
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10 Aquafaba Tips
1) Oil of any type will deflate aquafaba. If making meringues use alcohol based extracts. Believe me I learned this one the hard way.
2) When whipping aquafaba make sure your implements from mixing bowl to beaters are spotlessly clean and dry. Wipe them down with vinegar to get off any residual oil.
3) In general 3 tbsp of aquafaba equals one egg and 1 tbsp equals one egg white.
4) Aquafaba only lasts about five days in the refridgerator. Freeze aquafaba in measured amounts in your ice cube tray and defrost as needed.
5) If using aquafaba in a savory application like quiche it is still best to give it a quick whip and get a froth going before adding to your recipe.
6) White beans and garbanzos have the least beany taste and play best with sweet applications.
7) Humidity can wreak havoc with whipped aquafaba just like whipped egg white. Maybe you should wait till it stops raining before you experiment.
8) Don’t attempt veganizing a cake or brownie recipe with more than three eggs without help from the Aquafaba Hits and Misses Facebook group. They can talk you through the possibilities.
9) People have found that when you make your own aquafaba from cooking down dry legumes it is best to let the beans sit refridgerated overnight in the cooking liquid to form a more viscous aquafaba.
10) People have the most success whipping aquafaba in a stand mixer with a balloon attachment on high. My Kitchen Aid takes anywhere between 6-9 minutes to get to stiff peaks. Many report fails with hand mixers although it can be done with perseverance.
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Here are my recipes with Aquafaba