I’ve been baking allergy-friendly goods for a very long time. Over the years, I’ve mastered pretty much all pastries without using eggs, dairy, soy, nuts or gluten. However, meringues were always where I had to draw the line.
“Impossible!” I’d always say…
Then came genius French chef Joël Roessel, who found magic in the weirdest of places. He discovered that whipping the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas foamed into a meringue-like preparation. Later, vegan baker Goose Wohlt named the liquid aquafaba, and now, the Facebook page “Vegan Meringue- Hits and Misses,” has taken the vegan (and curious foodie) world by storm with about 30,000 members sharing their bean-water adventures.
Aquafaba applies not only to the liquid of canned chickpeas, but also to the liquid leftover from cooking beans at home, and it doesn’t only refer to chickpeas, but to pretty much any cooked beans.
The science behind why whipped aquafaba with sugar turns into meringue is still not clear, nor is the chemical/nutritional composition understood, but it does work. Besides meringue (and therefore, baked meringues, meringue fluff, macarons, mousses, etc), aquafaba can be used as an egg substitute when binding is needed, such as in veggie burgers or in baking quick breads such as cakes and muffins, and as an emulsifier—aquafaba mayo is actually a thing! However, it can not substitute the coagulating capabilities of eggs occurring in dishes such as scrambled eggs, quiches, or egg-based baked goods like cheesecake or flourless cakes (I learned this the hard way, so please take my word for it!).
Besides being a great way of using up something we have always thought of as waste, aquafaba produces meringue that has no health risks involved when eaten raw (which might be a concern with eggs).
Scroll down for aquafaba recipes...
The general guidelines of using aquafaba are:
- 3 tablespoons of bean liquid = 1 egg.
- Just as with egg whites, sugar is needed to make a meringue, although xylitol has produced decent results, other sweeteners don’t usually work.
- No, aquafaba doesn’t really impart any bean flavor.
- Vegan Meringue-Hits and Misses Facebook page contains pretty much all the information known to date about aquafaba.
- The ideal aquafaba-sugar ratio to make meringue by volume is 1:1.3.
- Each can of beans yields about 1/2 or up to 3/4 cup aquafaba .
- Aquafaba can be refrigerated airtight for a few days (and dries out a bit, which I found useful), or even frozen.
As you can see, there are now even more reasons to make hummus, but from now on, don’t throw the cooking liquid down the drain!
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