The beginner’s guide to aquafaba

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The beginner’s guide to aquafaba

Next time you’re making a recipe that calls for canned chickpeas, don’t get rid of that soaking liquid. As it turns out, it’s a miraculous ingredient with many culinary uses.

I love eggs in all their delicious incarnations and, for that reason, I could never become vegan. I also love a good gimmick, which is why I was immediately intrigued when I read this article about aquafaba, a seemingly miraculous vegan replacement for egg whites – and what’s more, it’s something you usually end up discarding down the drain.

Technically, aquafaba is any fluid left over after soaking legumes, but recently the term has become synonymous with the liquid from canned chickpeas. When whipped, it takes on the qualities of egg whites, and can thus be incorporated into the likes of meringues, chocolate mousse and cakes.

I was floored. Could this actually work? I pitched the idea during our editorial meeting and was met with blank-faced expressions, followed by scepticism. Luckily for me, food editor Abigail Donnelly was as captivated as I was by the idea, and whipped up a batch of meringues using the aquafaba.

Her verdict: “The meringues were crisp, light and quite phenomenal. For me aquafaba is more incredible than the moon landing!” Being her quirky self, she went on to suggest that this article be entitled Meringue on the Moon.

Last night, I finally got around to stocking up on some canned chickpeas again. I searched the internet for other recipes using aquafaba. I briefly toyed with the idea of chocolate mousse but, as the last white-chocolate version I made several years ago spectacularly failed to set, I searched on.

I finally came upon a recipe for vegan mayonnaise using aquafaba as an egg replacement. Thanks to my trusty stick blender, I’ve managed to make a few successful egg-based batches in my lifetime, so I thought, why not? The recipe was really incredibly simple, requiring only three tablespoons of chickpea liquid.

As stipulated, I whizzed up some apple cider vinegar, mustard, aquafaba and salt until it became frothy, before slowly incorporating about a cup of oil. Lo and behold, after furiously frothing the mixture with my stick blender, a gorgeously silky, creamy mayonnaise materialised.

It tasted pretty close to the other mayos I’d previously made, with no discernible chickpea flavour. I used it to make coleslaw and, if I say so myself, it tasted pretty spectacular. Aquafaba is really something, and I’d highly recommend playing around with this substance that we usually discard without a second thought. Bonus? You have some chickpeas left at the end!

Annette Klinger Article by: Annette Klinger

Woolworths TASTE’s features writer maintains that almost any dish can be improved with butter and cream. She’s a stickler for comfort food, especially German treats that remind her of her late grandmother, such as pork schnitzel with sauerkraut and spätzlen. She is a voracious reader of food magazines and recipe books, and instinctively switches over to the cooking channel whenever she checks into a hotel or guesthouse.

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    Tracy Jones
    August 4, 2015

    Well that’s pretty amazing! But who discovered this and HOW!

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    Gabi Teren
    July 30, 2015

    That! is too awesome! Thanks for the guide Annette!