Chickpea water excites as egg white substitute

Chickpea water — known in the vegan world as aquafaba, and which is the thick liquid that is discarded from cans of chickpeas or other beans — is newly exciting the culinary and food processing worlds for its uncanny ability to approximate the effects of egg whites.

In fact, claims this article in, “no ingredient seems to capture current culinary mood quite like aquafaba, a vegan animal substitute that would otherwise be classified as food waste”.

The innovative new use was first discovered two years ago, through work by American software engineer, Goose Wohlt, based on experiments by French tenor, Joel Roëssel. And, in analysing the ingredient, the Norwegian Food Research Institute has found that aquafaba is made of starches and proteins but it remains unclear why and how, exactly, it works.

Since then, vegan cooks have restlessly explored aquafaba’s uses, supplying the internet with recipes for macarons, meringues, cakes, pastas, ice cream, and more.

The ingredient has its own website, a social media feed filled with tagged posts of cooking experiments and successes, a primer on the (still fuzzy) science behind its seemingly magical properties, and a donation fund to support research.

As one top US chef has quipped “in the world of vegan cuisine, nothing has shaken things up like aquafaba…not that aquafaba is a complete, perfect egg substitute….but the idea of making a stable foam without an animal-based protein, that you can literally just buy at the supermarket for $.79 (ZAR15 approx) a can and whip up is pretty attractive.”

The bar community is the also excited about chickpea water’s potential an egg replacement in cocktails like fizzes and sours ie it’s better than raw eggs because it doesn’t impart the “sulphur” flavour that egg whites can.

He stresses it’s not a perfect replacement for egg whites because it lacks their stability and doesn’t “set” at as low a temperature.

About to get its biggest exposure yet

The US condiment company, Sir Kensington’s, will roll out its own vegan mayonnaise substitute — called Fabanaise — that uses chickpea water instead of eggs.

To get their water, the company turned to the company, Ithaca Hummus, offering to put the water, which had been ditched, to good use.

Sir Kensington’s director of product, Laura Villevieille, says she first learned about the ingredient a year ago while researching egg replacements.

The real question now is whether the ingredient has mainstream appeal, and if people will be willing to smear this chickpea spread on their sandwiches.

Based on the enthusiastic response to the ingredient, and the general clamouring for animal-protein substitutes, there’s a good chance they will, and that the water that so many home cooks have been pouring down the drain for years will make further inroads into the grocery store’s condiment aisle restaurant dessert menus….. Read the full article