Everyone knows that chickpeas are a fiber-rich addition to soups and salads, but have you ever thought about the ingredient you’re leaving behind in a can of chickpeas? We’re talking about that thick, cloudy liquid that typically gets dumped down the drain when chickpeas are strained. Yep–you read that right. It’s called aquafaba, and it might just be the ingredient your baked goods and cocktails are missing.
So, what exactly is aquafaba?
Aquafaba is the liquid that’s leftover when dry chickpeas are cooked, and it’s the brine that canned chickpeas soak in to maintain freshness while sitting on supermarket shelves. Why should you save it? Because it’s a fantastic vegan egg substitute that can be used in baked goods, to emulsify vegan mayonnaise, to add a foamy element to your favorite cocktails, and so much more.
Elliot Drucker, research & development manager at Sir Kensington’s (the first company to ever use aquafaba in a commercial product,) says that aquafaba is essentially “bean water” used for its emulsifying, thickening, and foaming abilities. Drucker explains that those emulsifying properties occur thanks to the starches, proteins, and other soluble solids found in aquafaba.
How can you use aquafaba?
Shake it in a cocktail shaker for an extra frothy espresso martini or whisk it alongside a thin stream of olive oil for a vegan aioli. Although the liquid from other beans—like black beans and kidney beans—could work just as well, chickpeas don’t give off any color, so the resulting clear (yet slightly cloudy) liquid is much more versatile. “Another nice thing about aquafaba is that you don’t need to use too much of it. Generally, three tablespoons of aquafaba will replace one egg,” Drucker says.
Does aquafaba taste like anything?
It depends! Aquafaba has a mild buttery and (of course) bean-like flavor, but it easily takes on the flavor of what it’s added to and tends to cling to other flavors quite well, which explains why it works well in mayo—and in cocktails.
How do you store aquafaba?
Aquafaba should be stored in an airtight container (like a mason jar) in the refrigerator for up to three days. However, Drucker says, if you’ve used it to make a vegan mayo at home, the resulting product can last in the refrigerator for around seven days.
Does aquafaba have any health benefits?
Aside from the obvious benefit of replacing an animal based product with a plant based product, aquafaba doesn’t have a ton of nutrients, and it certainly has less protein than an egg does. It’s low in calories and carbohydrates, but it’s also pretty low in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, if you aren’t vegan, there aren’t a ton of health benefits to using aquafaba over standard eggs. It is a nice step in preventing food waste, though!
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