I am researching foaming agents for a project and I'm curious as to the best way to use chickpea (garbanzo bean) water, also known as aquafaba. Aquafaba is used in vegan cooking and dessert-making as an alternative to egg whites.
I posted on Facebook and heard from a few different people about their techniques.
I heard from Hannes Schmitt from Electric Eel in Karlsruhe, Germany, who described their process of preparation of aquafaba from dried chickpeas.
Essentially they hydrate the chickpeas (discarding the water), then cook them (saving the water), then soak them again (keeping the water). You combine the water from the cooking and the soaking together.
Here's Schmitt's detailed explanation:
We quite recently did an extensive amount of research and experiments on aquafaba to improve our cocktails and bring a more cost effective, experimental and even vegan side to our establishment.
Let’s start with the baselines of our results. For us, chickpeas gave the best and most flavor-neutral result compared to any other kinds of beans.
I would not recommend using Aquafaba straight out of metal cans you find at any generic grocery store, because it can bring a very metallic taste to the drink, that is best described as generally unpleasant. In Germany at least it is also possible to find chickpeas in a sealed glass, from which you get a way better aquafaba without the metallic taste, but often a bit to present bean note.
Long story short, we found the optimal way to make Aquafaba is to use dried chickpeas. For a yield of about 750ml (+/- 50-75ml) of Aquafaba, we use 200g of dried chickpeas and let them soak them for 12-14 hours in lukewarm water.
After the soaking we discard the water and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, then transfer them into a pot and cover them with about an inch or 2-3cm of water and proceed to cook them for about one hour, adding more water if too much evaporated, until the water just barely covers the chickpeas (depends of course on the pot you are using).
A better indicator is the viscosity and colour of the resulting Aquafaba. It should not be quite as thick as an egg white but definitely distinguishable from normal water. Also it will have a slight yellowish to golden brown colour. This is exactly what you want at that step.
The next step is to separate the chickpeas from the Aquafaba and soak the cooked chickpeas again in water for about 24 hours in the fridge. Depending on the yield of the first batch which usually averages at about 200ml you should then use about 500-700ml of water for the second soaking.
The „first-batch“ Aquafaba should also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. After the 24 hour wait the „second-batch“ Aquafaba can be separated from the chickpeas and mixed with the first batch to create the right amount of froth and foaminess.
It will be noticeable that the second batch has little colour and next to no chickpea aroma compared to the first batch. Its advantages alone are its neutrality and a very fine pored foam, but it does lack the substantial amount of foam and silky mouthfeel you would get by using a classic egg white. This can be widely improved by combining the first and second batch which results in a higher viscosity and increase of foam itself.
By making Aquafaba in „two-batches“ it is possible to get a much higher yield and adjust the individual attributes like texture, foam height, flavor neutrality and so on.
Comparing to Egg Whites
For the disadvantages the main and maybe only present one is the overall thickness it provides or rather doesn’t provide. In comparison to a egg white you don’t get quite the same silky texture and if you want to float something on top an egg white provides a higher density that will help with that.
That said the advantages of Aquafaba are plenty. Starting with the price, at 750ml for 200g of dried Chickpeas you land at about 0,53€ per liter of aquafaba (The price for 1kg of chickpeas is 1,99€ over here).
Working with Aquafaba is also a bit easier than with egg whites and definitely quicker to pour 2cl than freshly cracking and separating an egg. That said fresh eggs are still a staple of good bars. And to follow up on one of the points before, aquafaba might not provide as high of a density as you would get by using a traditional egg white, but the finer foam somewhat catches the float in the lower layer of the foam itself, which is very nice for wine floats like the New York sour or other variants.
Storage of Aquafaba
The Aquafaba itself will last 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge and about 2-3 months when frozen. I noticed that the temperature the aquafaba is stored at changes the shelf life and consistency or rather viscosity. It’s not a big change, but it is noticeable if you look for it.
At home I have my fridge dialed in at 5°C (41°F) and at the Electric Eel we have a lower fridge temperature of approximately 2-3°C (36°F). The aquafaba stored at my home lasted reliably for 5 days and up to 1 1/2 to 2 days more. When stored at the Eel it last reliably about 6 days and usually at least 1 to 2 more, but we never extend it’s welcome if there is any doubt. The positive side of the home stored is, that it foams easier than it’s cooler stored brother at the Eel, but not by a wide margin.
Know Something Better/Else?
Do you have another technique you feel works? Feel free to comment below or email me if you prefer.
Next Up: Experiments
I conducted three days of experiments on chickpea/garbanzo bean water preparation. I'll link to them here as they come online.