The next time you open a can of chickpeas, don’t pour the liquid down the drainstash it in your fridge. That fluid, known as aquafaba, has become quite a sensation online. That’s because it can be used as a vegan alternative to dairy and eggs in everything from meringue to mayonnaise. If you’re curious about this new trend but want some more info before trying it, here are five things you should know about aquafaba.
Aquafaba can be the water you used to boil bagged pulses (lentils, beans, and peas, like chickpeas), or it can be the liquid from canned versions of these foods. It seems to work best when it’s derived from beans or chickpeas. With a little whipping, the liquid develops a fluffy texture that resembles whipped egg whites, whipped cream, or milk foam.
Most of the videos and recipes online use a KitchenAid mixer with a balloon whisk. A hand mixer is another option, although it will generally take longer, and you likely won’t achieve the same consistency as a stand mixer. While blenders typically won’t work because the speed of the blades destroys the foam, some online posts claim to have made aquafaba by vigorously shaking the liquid in a sealed jar.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of watching a chef from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone create a simple yet delicious chocolate mousse, starring aquafaba and melted dark chocolate. Another easy option is “ice cream” typically made with aquafaba, frozen fruit, and honey. But you’ll find dozens upon dozens of recipes online. I recommend using these three rules of thumb: 1) Look for pulses that don’t contain added salt, especially if you’re using a larger amount of liquid. 2) Keep added sugar to a minimum, and use natural or less processed options. 3) Choose recipes packed with superfood ingredients, including fruit, fresh herbs and spices, dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds.
The process of making aquafaba is pretty cool, so if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go, have fun, and keep it healthy. (And if you’re looking for nutritious recipes to use up the chickpeas and beans, check out my recipes featuring pulses.)