Nowadays, we rarely get surprised when we read about the chickpea juice in a vegan recipe. Aquafaba has been around for a while, all thanks to the experiments of vegans hungry for a plant-based egg replacement that binds, whips and emulsifies. It became a trend in the mid-2010s and made itself comfortable in our kitchens.
Now, we can find a wide spectrum of aquafaba-based recipes all over the vegan blogosphere: from fritters and aquafaba omelette to meringues and amaretti cookies. But still, more often than not a lot of time we let the golden bean juice go down the drain. Let’s face it. We can’t be prepared to whip up a batch of shiny meringues every time we open a can of chickpeas. That’s why I started thinking of effortless ways to avoid waste and incorporate this precious liquid into everyday cooking. Now, not a drop of chickpea water gets wasted in my kitchen!
If you’re avoiding canned vegetables and still want to experiment with aquafaba, you can cook the beans at home, and after draining, let the liquid reduce to 1/4 of its original volume to use in all recipes that call for it.
1. Use it in your hummus
I first read about adding chickpea water to hummus from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The recipe calls to reserve your chickpea water and add it while blending chickpeas to a smooth paste. It made perfect sense to use it instead of water, especially when you cook the beans yourself. Try adding aquafaba next time you make hummus: it will bring out the depth in the flavors and will be a great middle-ground between adding oil and water, somewhat light, but still full of body.
2. Add moisture to batters
My mom has always made the best crepes. Paper-thin and light, dotted with bubbly spots from whipped egg whites. Going vegan I thought my mom’s exceptional crepes days are over for me, but then aquafaba came to the rescue! Two tablespoons of aquafaba are equivalent to about one egg white. Whip the bean water with a pinch of salt until it forms soft peaks. Fold it gently into any pancake, crepe or cake batter. It will add moisture and lightness, resulting in the fluffiest pancakes and waffles you’ve ever tried!
3. Flavor grains
Cooking grains with aquafaba became a go-to in my kitchen, especially after I started cooking chickpeas at home. Sounds weird? Maybe! But I love how I can adjust the flavor of the liquid and improvise with different herbs and spices to subtly flavor the grains. Next time you’re grocery shopping instead of grabbing a can of chickpeas, get some dried beans to cook at home. It’s less intimidating and time-consuming than most of us realize. Cover chickpeas in water, add a few pinches of salt and leave to soak overnight. When you’re ready to cook them, drain and replace the water, add salt, bay leaf, a few cloves of garlic and some fresh thyme and cook the grains until they’re soft. Leftover chickpea water from homemade beans can be stored in a jar in a fridge for up to a week, and used in cooking virtually any grain. Just replace 1/2 of the amount of water with homemade bean water when cooking rice, pearl barley or quinoa.
4. Homemade vegan mayo
Mayo, as all emulsions, can be intimidating. Fortunately for vegans, it’s not as intimidating as the egg version. I love making mayo with aquafaba, because it’s much lighter and, frankly, much more delicious than the soy milk, cauliflower or potato versions. Plus, making it is budget-friendly and fun. If you’re a homemade-mayo novice, I’d recommend starting with aquafaba from canned chickpeas, as it’s much more reliable. Find a recipe to start with and build your mayo-confidence. Later on, you can feel free to experiment with different flavors, the possibilities are endless!
5. Basically anywhere you would use water
I wouldn’t go as far as making a cup of tea with boiled chickpea juice, but I have to admit, I have become what you might call an aquafaba enthusiast. I started adding chickpea water to curries, sauces and soups. To be honest, once you start, the doors to the exciting and creative universe of aquafaba burst open and you get flooded with ideas. All it takes is a humble chickpea!
Related: Vegan Dijon Chickpea Lettuce Wraps
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Photo: Ula Czumaj