So, maybe I’m late to this party, but I have recently been introduced to something called “aquafaba.” Have you guys heard of this? Apparently it’s taking the vegan/food allergy world by storm.
Why is it called aquafaba? Well, because “bean water” just sounds gross.
But that’s literally what it is. Bean water. In fact, that’s what the name means – aqua is Latin for water and faba is Latin for bean. When beans are cooked, they throw starch and protein into the surrounding water. This water can be used as an additive to soups or hummus (depending on the variety of bean), but normally it gets dumped down the drain while the beans go on to bigger and better things. However, someone discovered that this bean water can be whipped up into a foam in the same way egg whites can. For those of use who have egg restrictions, this opens a whole new world of foods that we never thought were possible: meringues, pavlovas, macarons… even homemade mayonnaise! (I first mentioned this on my post about egg replacers, but I wanted to explore it a little more here)
In the interest of full disclosure, at the time of this writing, I have not yet tried doing anything with aquafaba. I do however, have a can of chickpeas on my counter waiting to be used. I wonder about flavor. If I’m making meringue, won’t it have a distinctive “bean-y” taste? That’s a good way to ruin a pie. One of the reasons you soak beans before cooking is that it pulls out some of the chemicals that cause the… well, let’s call it “tummy music.” So will products made with aquafaba cause an evening symphony in our house? According to the people at aquafaba.com, chickpeas (the most common and effective source of aquafaba) have low level of the chemical that cause the intestinal issues, so people having such issues is rarely reported.
How does it work? Some say fairies are somehow involved, but I think there may be a little more science involved. Foams (whether whipped cream or meringues) are basically basically a protein or starch matrix that trap air bubbles inside (like on top of your latte). When you whip egg whites, the protein traps air. The more you whip them, the smaller and smaller the bubbles get, making a denser foam. That foam is how you get meringue. It would stand to reason that the starchy water left over from cooking beans could do something similar.
So what does all this mean? It means that, if this works the way I think it will, my little dude will be able to have one of my all-time favorite treats: meringue kisses! Light and airy meringue cookies that crumble and melt away in your mouth… previously off-limits for our egg-free Mega Man. Now, just maybe, he can experience the joy. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Have you used aquafaba? How did it go?