Stop Throwing Out Your Chickpea Water And Use It As An Egg Substitute

The next time you crack open a can of chickpeas for making hummus, stop what you're doing and do not throw out their soaking water, it is liquid gold. More specifically, it's called aquafaba (Latin for bean water), and is undoubtedly one of the best egg substitutes money can buy. Actually, it's practically free, since it comes in the cans of garbanzos you'd normally rinse, allowing this precious elixir to wash down the drain. From now on, you're going to want to save it.

Aquafaba is an excellent vegan egg replacer, but you don't have to be vegan to enjoy its remarkable ability to mimic egg whites. This beany brine is also free of dairy, gluten, soy, and nuts, good for special diets and picky eaters alike. Aquafaba is even keto-friendly, having nearly no carbs. In fact, it does not have much nutritional value at all, with only trace amounts of fat, and an entire cup's worth is only 18 calories. While its nutrients and cost are negligible, its uses are priceless.

A versatile ingredient, aquafaba's egg substitution abilities work best for replacing egg whites. It can replace whole eggs or yolks in baking, too, but your results may vary. Its true talents shine when used as a thickener in light, airy foods. Think meringues, macarons, creams, and spreads. While vegan bakers swear by flax seeds as an egg replacement for things like cakes and cookies, aquafaba reigns supreme where the fluffy factor is king, like in lemon meringue pie.

How to make aquafaba

Making aquafaba could not be any easier. Open a can of chickpeas, but instead of throwing the water away, strain it through a sieve into a bowl, and voilà, you've got aquafaba. Okay, there is a bit more to it, but the most difficult part of the entire process is getting the can open.

Aquafaba can also be made from scratch by boiling dried beans in water and straining their cooking liquid, which may need to be reduced to reach the right consistency. If you like, any bean can be used for aquafaba, although chickpea water is preferred for its milder flavor, as well as light color, which whips up to a pure white almost indistinguishable from eggs in both appearance and texture. While the flavor in aquafaba is faint, we prefer the slight hint of nuttiness imparted by chickpeas. It is mostly flavorless, however, and you can ensure that no unwanted savory bean taste makes it into your desserts by choosing low-salt or sodium-free canned chickpeas, and opting for organic beans from cans that are BPA-free.

Aquafaba works well right out of the can as a binder for ground-up ingredients in foods like veggie burgers or meatless meatloaf, in batters for fried foods like tempura, or as an egg wash on breads and pastries. But to fully harness the powers of chickpea water, you're going to want to whip it, and whip it good.

How to make egg-free meringue from aquafaba

To turn aquafaba into a perfect, pillowy meringue, just pour the reserved juice from a can of chickpeas into a mixing bowl (a 15-ounce can yields about ½ cup of liquid), add a touch of cream of tartar (optional, but helps to stabilize), and mix with a stand or hand mixer until the liquid turns from foamy to medium or stiff peaks. This can take a little longer than with eggs, which is why we suggest an electric mixer rather than attempting it by hand. Keep going until you reach the desired consistency. To sweeten, mix in sugar or your preferred dry sweetener after the peaks have formed.

Now that you know what aquafaba is and how to use it as an easy vegan egg substitute, what will you make with it? That meringue you just whipped up can be baked into crispy and dreamy mini dollops or the pièce de résistance topping on a chocolate meringue pie.

The fun doesn't have to stop there. Aquafaba works like a charm for making vegan marshmallows, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, cake frosting, nougat, and even mayo. Try subbing it for the eggs in Caesar salad dressing, as an egg-free cocktail foam espuma, or as a crema to top off espresso. With all the delicious foods you can veganize and goodies you can make with aquafaba as an egg substitute, you'll never want to throw out chickpea water again.