Aquafaba is certainly one of the most exciting developments in egg-free baking. But what is aquafaba and how can you use it? Read on for some great tips and tricks, a handy infographic and some inspiring recipes.
A very brief history of Aquafaba
In the first few months of 2015, something big happened in the world of free-from food. Something so big that it revolutionised egg-free baking overnight. Someone worked out how to use chickpea brine in place of eggs to very easily make an egg-free meringue. Who could have guessed that the quest for an egg-free meringue would inspire a food revolution?!
The very first chickpea powered meringue showed up one day on the hugely popular Facebook group, What F.A.T Vegans Eat. Very quickly a new Facebook group, Vegan Meringues – Hits & Misses, was formed where group members continued experimenting and further developing this technique. It’s here that the chickpea brine was given the name aquafaba from its latin roots: aqua = water, faba = bean.
And it’s been full steam ahead from there! Aquafaba is no longer just for meringues and other meringue-like treats such as marshmallows and macarons. Free-from foodies from all over the world are now using it successfully in bakes like cinnamon scrolls and brownies; incorporating it in dairy-free butter and cheese, and even using it to make royal icing, ice-cream and mayonnaise. A quick search of ‘aquafaba’ on Pinterest will reveal a brave new world of egg-free cooking that you have to see to believe.
Viva la revolucion!
Aquafaba Tips & Tricks
Aquafaba isn’t available by itself commercially, so you may need to start eating more chickpeas. With this in mind, here are some tips and tricks about finding, using, and storing aquafaba.
Mind your brine
Not all cans of chickpea are equal, and you’ll find some are packed in salt water and some aren’t. From personal experience we can tell you that the salt will make a big difference to your baking – especially if you’re making something sweet like meringue. It’s a good idea to check the Nutrition Label, even on cans of unsalted chickpeas – you’d be surprised at how much it can vary from brand-to-brand. The lower the salt figure the better your bakes will taste, so ideally try to get something with less than 0.1g of salt.
Make your own
You can make your own aquafaba by soaking dried chickpeas. While it’s easy enough and a great way to save money, it can be a bit of a lengthy process involving overnight soaking and a lot of boiling. If you’d like to try this out, we recommend using the method described here.
Here at Spoon Guru HQ, we’ve found that we don’t often want to use the chickpeas and aquafaba at the same time. But what we have found is that aquafaba freezes very well. Pouring 1 tablespoon of aquafaba into each well of an ice cube tray means that there is always a pre-measured amount sitting in the freezer waiting to be turned into something wonderful. And, unlike egg whites, you can safely defrost it in the microwave if you’re short on time.
Adapt your own recipes
The basic rule of thumb for using aquafaba in place of eggs is:
1 egg = 3 Tbs aquafaba
1 egg white = 2 Tbs aquafaba
Whip it. Whip it good.
To get your aquafaba to work like an egg, you’ll need to whisk it to make it light, airy and fluffy – just like egg white. How much you need to whisk it will depend very much on what you’re making, so it’s a good idea to follow a few recipes first to get a feel for it before going out on your own.
While chickpeas are the most common (and often most successful) source of aquafaba, many people have used the brine from a variety of other beans. Most of these experiments end up being posted in the Aquafaba Facebook group, so if you’re keen to learn more, head over and join the community!
The first recipe should probably be the food that started this whole crazy thing off – meringue. There are hundreds of vegan meringue recipes floating around cyberspace now, but here’s one we particularly like.
We mentioned previously that aquafaba has been used to make free-from ice cream. Dairy-free ice-creams can at times be a little icy like a sorbet rather than creamy like an ice-cream due to the difference in the fat content of dairy and non-dairy milks. To alleviate this issue, many dairy-free ice-cream recipes would use eggs to give it that creamy texture. Until aquafaba came along….
Another popular sweet treat, made possible without eggs thanks to aquafaba! It’s hard not to be impressed by a good Macaron, and the colour and flavour combinations are endless.
Crepes can be a little difficult to master without eggs. Using aquafaba will not only help them hold together, they generally tend to be lighter as well. These crepes can be made sweet or savoury, so you can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Gluten-Free? Try this recipe instead.