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Testing Aquafaba

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— July 15, 2018

Testing Aquafaba

By Allan Richter
  • An emerging replacement for egg whites has many vegans applauding. We put it to a cooking and taste test.
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Aquafaba sounds like some new watersport or perhaps a brand of cologne marketed as having the scent of the sea. In fact, aquafaba is a culinary term—it is the liquid typically discarded from a can of chickpeas. It’s become popular among vegans as a plant-based egg white substitute.

Though aquafaba has evolved over a decade, it began becoming commercially popular in 2015, after software engineer Goose Wohlt created a stable meringue using chickpea brine as a base, according to aquafaba.com. Wohlt named the new ingredient aquafaba, which combines the Latin root words for “water” and “bean.” We decided to put aquafaba to the test, letting members of Nature’s Plus fastidious Millennial Advisory Board experiment by cooking with the unusual ingredient, then again with a conventional recipe, before letting others taste the results of those efforts. We asked our millennial cooks—Lida Loguercio, corporate services assistant, and Danielle O’Neill, senior administrative assistant—to whip up some waffles using an aquafaba recipe (see recipe on page 78) from the book Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water (Vegan Heritage), by Zsu Dever, who blogs at Zsu’s Vegan Pantry (zsusveganpantry.com). Dever cautioned against using egg yolks in a conventional recipe because the resulting dish would taste richer than the aquafaba, or vegan, version, and we would not get a close comparison on taste; the chickpea liquid-based ingredient acts as a direct replacement only for egg whites.

Stephanie Franquie
Franquie thought the conventional waffle tasted “bland” and said “something’s missing” after taking a few bites. She thought the texture and look were fine. After moving on to the aquafaba-based waffle, she at first said she liked the taste, adding that it had more flavor than the conventional waffle. After a second bite, however, she said the aquafaba waffle began leaving her with an unpleasant aftertaste. Still, she gave both waffle types three stars on taste because she suspected the aftertaste may have been the result of her allergies. She thought the aquafaba recipe looked “fine,” but said its texture was “a little spongy—like raw, but not raw.”

“Aquafaba is very good at replacing egg whites,” Dever says. “Egg yolks are different because of the fat content. Aquafaba is pretty versatile but it won’t replace eggs completely. It doesn’t have the denaturing proteins that eggs do. It’s the protein that uncurls and gets fluffy.” We compared the aquafaba-based waffle recipe from Dever’s book against a conventional waffle recipe that Dever provided. That latter recipe called for two full eggs, but we used just the egg whites from three eggs instead. The recipes used virtually the same ingredients, with two exceptions: The conventional recipe called for 1½ cups of regular milk versus the non-dairy milk in the vegan version, and the regular recipe used ¼ cup of melted butter instead of the canola oil in the vegan waffles. We then put the results into a blind taste test. There are several ways to make aquafaba. Two of these are relatively slow—by cooking over a stovetop for four hours or using a pressure cooker. Though Dever strongly recommends cooking your own chickpeas to get aquafaba, a simpler way to make the ingredient, she says, is to drain the liquid from a can of chickpeas, add it to a measuring cup, note the amount, transfer it to a medium saucepan and reduce it by one-third. Even simpler, she says, is to buy the Eden brand of chickpeas; its liquid is so thick it does not need to be reduced overheat. We wanted to keep our aquafaba test as simple as possible, so we used the Eden brand. On these pages you’ll learn how Loguercio and O’Neill felt about cooking with aquafaba, and how the different versions of waffles fared with our tasters—Stephanie Franquie, director of marketing; Carlo Espinosa, credit analyst; and Jamie Smith, warehouse/receiving lead.

On Cooking with Aquafaba

Both cooks found the texture of the aquafaba-based waffle batter especially thick. “I feel like I’m working out my arms,” Loguercio said as she worked the tough batter with a metal whisk. Both also said the

Carlo Espinosa
Espinosa thought the conventional waffle was tastier than its aquafaba counterpart, whose taste he described as “dull” and “bland.” He added that the conventional waffle looked more cooked and was thicker than the aquafaba version, which, he said, was “fluffier.”

process was relatively simple, and they would cook with aquafaba again. O’Neill said the effort and investment of time “that it would take to make the regular batter with the eggs is the same using the aquafaba we used today.” She said cooking with aquafaba “was quick and easy.” Added Loguercio, “For people who want to substitute something for eggs, aquafaba is easy to substitute and make something close to what [the conventional food] tastes like. It’s good that this option is available. It’s very simple.”

Our Tasters Compare the Waffles

Our tasters tested the two waffle varieties on taste, texture and look/esthetic. Overall, the waffles with aquafaba didn’t seem to fare as well among the tasters as they did with the cooks. But the conventional waffles didn’t score an overwhelming victory, given the close or equal star ratings each taster gave both varieties. Nor was it a shutout—

Classic Waffles
“The two most important aspects of a great waffle are crisp exterior and moist and fluffy interior. These deliver big,” says Zsu Dever. “To make great make-ahead waffles, undercook them by about 1 minute and freeze. When you’re ready for them, just toast and enjoy. Serve with vegan butter, maple syrup, or preserves.”

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated organic sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup nondairy milk
½ cup aquafaba
¼ cup canola or other neutral oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk or sift to distribute the ingredients equally.
2. Combine the milk, aquafaba, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix well. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk gently into a smooth batter. Set the batter aside to hydrate while the waffle iron heats up.
3. Heat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and add the required amount of batter to the hot iron (usually about 1 cup). Cook until the desired doneness is reached and transfer the waffles to a wire rack.

The waffles will become crisp in about 30 seconds. Serve hot. Makes 10 to 12 (3”x3”) waffles Source: Aquafaba (Vegan Heritage), copyright © 2016 by Zsu Dever. Used by permission.

one of the three tasters thought the aquafaba waffle recipe fared better than the conventional waffles on taste and texture. In their blind taste test, two of the tasters—Franquie and Espinosa— correctly distinguished between the conventional waffle and the one employing aquafaba. But it took a few forkfuls to tell the difference; none of the testers identified the waffle varieties easily.

Jamie Smith
Smith thought the conventional waffle tasted good, and he liked its texture and look. But immediately upon tasting the aquafaba-based waffle, he declared, “This one tastes better than that one. It’s richer.” In addition to preferring the taste of the aquafaba waffle, Smith thought its texture was “crunchier” than the regular waffle. Like the other tasters, he observed that it looked lighter than the conventional waffles.

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