We already know that there are tons of Amazing, Surprising Ways to Eat Chickpeas–and with tons of protein and fiber, the extremely versatile legume already plays a huge role in most vegetarian and vegan diets. But before anyone eats the stuff, they, of course, pour out the water. But what if we told you that this liquid could actually be used to create countless vegan-friendly dishes? Turns out, the once useless fluid–now officially known as aquafaba–is the perfect vegan egg substitute!
A man named Joël Roessel first discovered Aquafaba in France in 2014. A year later, it was made popular by Goose Wholt, an Indiana-based software engineer who had recently converted to a vegan diet. A big fan of meringues, he made it his personal mission to create a vegan-friendly variety. After his wife told him about a video she saw in which two French cooks used the liquid from a can of chickpeas to make chocolate mousse, Wholt started experimenting with chickpea water to make meringues. To his excitement, the stuff worked perfectly, foaming up like real eggs when whipped. Combining the Latin words for water and beans, Wholt named his remarkable finding “aquafaba.” When he posted his breakthrough to a Facebook group, it caused a small Internet sensation within the vegan community. Since then, aquafaba-infused recipes for vegan-friendly mayo, macaroons, and mousse have been blowing up on Pinterest. In fact, aquafaba pinning has increased 160 percent since January, with recipes for aquafaba mayo spiking an impressive 450 percent! Aquafaba is a pretty big deal for vegans because traditional egg substitutes like bananas, applesauce, pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds cannot be whisked into the texture necessary to create recipes such a meringue. And with the market for vegan mayonnaise at an all-time high, the condiment brand Sir Kensington’s decided to use aquafaba to create their latest product–a vegan mayo called Fabanaise. (We tried the Chipotle variety with some homemade baked “fries” and it was really tasty!)
Nutritionally, however, aquafaba isn’t extremely remarkable. Dietician Christy Harrison recently commented that while research on the egg-substitute is limited, we do know that there’s not much in it other than small amounts of protein. “There’s no reason to substitute it in things that would have egg whites unless you’re vegan,” she added.
But for chefs and home-cooks alike, aquafaba holds the potential to create countless delicious recipes (like angel food cake, soufflés, and macaroons) for those who can’t—or choose not to—eat eggs. What a time to be a vegan!