You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has yet to encounter aquafaba, that yellow-tinted, slightly viscous liquid hiding out inside a can of chickpeas. One also may be familiar with the fact that chickpea water works surprisingly well as a replacement for egg whites (didn't you hear the vegan cheers when the news broke?). What you may not know is that you can easily make your own aquafaba at home.
The aquafaba craze can be traced back to a post by blogger Joël Roessel, who wrote about making foams from canned vegetable and bean water with added stabilizers like guar gum. The method was technically feasible, but it's safe to say most home cooks are not Marcel Vigneron from Top Chef and have never made, nor possessed a burning desire to make, foam.
Goose Wohlt, another chickpea-water pioneer and the voice behind the blog Vegan Cookery, was experimenting with egg-replacement options for vegans, using hydrocolloid-based techniques. You may be more familiar with this method if you've come across any recipe that instructs setting something aside "to gel" (yum?). The major result of Wohlt's work proved that when properly manipulated, chickpea water alone is actually stable enough to act as an egg replacer.
Aquafaba is typically touted as a method with which to avoid food waste after opening a can of garbanzos for dinner. However, with the recent popularity of DIY grain sprouting and pickling, it's time to give dried chickpeas a chance to shine—other than as pie weights, if you're in my kitchen. Not to mention it's a good way to avoid the elevated levels of sodium, decreased micronutrients and potential BPA—and other wonky chemical exposure that can come from canned legumes. Plus, it's still the International Year of Pulses (pulses are legumes like lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), so let's be good global citizens and put pulses to use in any way we can.
Making aquafaba from scratch is not difficult, but it does take some time. The garbanzos must soak for several hours, then they're cooked until tender, which can take up to an hour—a perfect task for a lazy Sunday interspersed with laundry and grocery shopping, maybe a Netflix break. Alternatively, you can set up your chickpeas to soak before going off to work in the morning and complete the second part of the project after dinner.
Start by pouring a pound (approximately two cups) of dried chickpeas into a large fine-mesh sieve. Pick through the beans and rinse them well for at least two minutes. Pour the chickpeas into a large, sealable jar and cover with five cups of water. Tightly close the lid and let the chickpeas soak for about 12 hours.
Transfer the chickpeas and soaking liquid to a saucepan (adding a bit more water if needed so the chickpeas are covered). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the chickpeas are tender. This can take up to an hour, but start checking the chickpeas after 40 minutes. You may need to add a bit more water during this process.
Drain the mixture, saving both the cooked beans and the liquid. Check the aquafaba for viscosity: It should resemble the stuff you find in a can. If it seems very thin, dump the liquid back into the saucepan and bring it to a boil to reduce it a bit. And there you have it! Homemade aquafaba with no questionable additives.
Try using the liquid as an egg replacer in baked goods (3 tablespoons = 1 whole egg, 2 tablespoons = 1 egg white) or as a way to thin out hummus. Then get fancy by whipping it into a batch of fluffy, crispy meringue cookies: Simply swap the egg whites for aquafaba, and you'll be good to go (though it's important to note not to heat the oven over 250 degrees with this method). Vegan mayonnaise is even a possibility—soon to be more readily available, as condiment company Sir Kensington's has plans to debut its Fabanaise later in May. My personal favorite use for chickpea water? As a worry-free replacement in cocktails and other beverages that call for whipped egg whites. See below for ideas.
Vegan Ramos Gin Fizz
2 ounces gin
2 tablespoons aquafaba
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
A few drops orange flower water
1 ounce full-fat coconut milk
In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, aquafaba, simple syrup, citrus juices and orange flower water, and shake for 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk and ice. Shake for another 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a fizz glass, top with seltzer and serve.
2 teaspoons aquafaba
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce citrus juice (preferably blood orange or grapefruit)
1 teaspoon sugar
With a whisk or electric mixer, whip the aquafaba until frothy. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the bourbon, citrus juice and sugar. Shake well for 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.
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