Vegans will have long been aware of the oddly named aquafaba. For those of you who've recently turned, though, this wonder ingredient is going to be a lifesaver when it comes to cooking.
So what is aquafaba? Well, in short, it's the "jus" that beans and legumes (mainly chickpeas) have been cooked in. It's viscous (thicker and stickier than water) and, in many cases, makes an excellent substitute for egg whites.
Can you buy aquafaba?
You can't buy it on its own – even Whole Foods doesn't sell it, which is saying something. But actually, if you're conscious of food waste, aquafaba is a great thing to get to know because it's already in that can of chickpeas you were going to use anyway. As Sadhbh, Refinery29's social media assistant says (Sadhbh is vegan), aquafaba is the "vegan equivalent of using the whole cow".
FYI, some chickpeas are soaked in salted water which will drastically change the taste of anything you bake. Best check the ingredients on the can for legumes in non-salted water.
Can you make aquafaba?
Yes, yes you can. It is a bit of a schlep but, according to blog Food Highs, the taste is much cleaner and there are no "tinny notes". They recommend soaking dried chickpeas overnight in just over double the volume of water of chickpeas. Keep the mixture airtight. The next morning, you need to drain your chickpeas and boil them.
Remember, if this all sounds like too much hard work, just buy yourself a can of chickpeas. No one's giving out medals for virtuous baking here. And we're sure you've got much better stuff to do with your time.
Can aquafaba be frozen?
If you do go ahead and make your own aquafaba like an absolute hero, you may find you've got too much to use in one go. Can you store it to save yourself another sleepless night of soaking legumes? You certainly can. The home of aquafaba (these guys even came up with the weird name), Aquafaba.com recommends storing your juice in an ice tray and refrigerating it, if you're only going to keep it a few days. For anything over that, freezing is your best bet.
Does aquafaba contain protein?
Makes sense, right? Chickpeas are a super way for vegans to get the protein they need. There are about nine grams of protein for every 100 grams of chickpeas. Sadly, though, this doesn't translate to aquafaba. A recent study of aquafaba registered protein levels too low even to be recorded on a nutritional label.
What recipes can aquafaba be used in?
... aquafaba mayo
Because a life without mayonnaise has to be a very dark one indeed. We recommend this garlic mayo (they call it aioli) from Lauren Caris Cooks. It takes 15 minutes to make and you've probably got everything you need already in your fridge and cupboards.
There are plenty more recipes for aquafaba over on the growing Facebook pages for the various aquafaba communities around the world. Go, get involved!