A few years ago I attended an event here in Los Angeles where I watched a local bartender use BEER in place of an egg white to make a cocktail vegan; it blew my mind. It even inspired me to make this Vegan Pisco Sour. The consistency, feel and look were almost identical to using an egg white, the only issue was that there was the slight presence of “beer taste”.
I haven’t used the technique too much since then though as I almost never have beer in the house. Well, I have a few bottles, but not the right kind to make this replacement (you’ll need a wheat beer). And then a few months ago I heard about another egg white replacement being used by local bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk (also of the blog Loving Cup): aquafaba, or aguafaba. I had no idea what this mystical sounding ingredient was so I sought it out and turns out… it’s bean water.
More specifically it’s the cooking liquid from beans, and pretty much chickpeas. Recently I discovered there’s even a whole website devoted to the magic of this liquid. So if you really want to get down into the details, check that out at aquafaba.com. But here’s the gist of it from their site:
Aquafaba can be used to replace egg whites in many sweet and savory recipes. Its unique mix of starches, proteins, and other soluble plant solids which have migrated from the seeds to the water during the cooking process gives aquafaba a wide spectrum of emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening properties.
Neat, huh? Now, to make this post as useful as possible, I performed a few experiments so that I can try and answer a few questions that might come up.
- First, you don’t need to cook beans from scratch constantly to have this on hand, although to me that sounds delicious. You can easily crack open a can of chickpeas, drain the liquid and reserve it in an ice cube tray, freezing for future use.
- In fact, go ahead and freeze your aquafaba into 1 ounce (the equivalent of one egg white) portions right now. Unless you plan on using it all right away, there’s no reason to have it occupying space in your fridge. Microwave the frozen portion for 25 seconds, let it come to room temp and use in your cocktail. I saw no changes between the frozen aquafaba and the fresh or from can.
- The color of the liquid from the home cooked beans resulted in a darker color, while the canned beans were lighter, however, no change in appearance of the cocktail was detected.
- Will your cocktails taste of beans? NOPE! I cooked off a batch of dried chickpeas and while they had a pleasant nutty flavor, the cooking liquid did not impart any of that taste into my cocktail. And when I used canned chickpeas, the liquid did not taste of beans or have a metal aftertaste.
- So how does a cocktail made with aquafaba compare with one made with an egg white? Guys, they’re almost identical. Let’s look at the comparison I did making a Sloe Gin Fizz below.
To test how aquafaba compares to using an egg white in a cocktail, I made two identical Sloe Gin Fizzes. The precise amounts of sloe gin, lemon juice (came from the same lemon!), and simple syrup were added to shakers within seconds and then 1 ounce of aquafaba was added to one and an egg white to the other shaker. Both were dry shaken with one ice cube, and then filled 2/3 with ice and shaken again for about 25 seconds.
Aquafaba on the left, egg white on the right.
When poured out, they both had a frothy head and gave about an inch and a half of head when topped with club soda. They also both passed my straw test, which means I stuck a straw in the center and it stayed there without moving.
Aquafaba on the top, egg white on the bottom.
And how did they taste? Practically the same. Neither had a taste other than sweet sloe gin and tart lemon, which is great for subbing one for the other and not affecting the taste of your cocktail. I found that the cocktail with the aquafaba had more body to the drink, while the egg white cocktail felt lighter. Then, I let the drinks sit for awhile to test how long the foam of the cocktail kept its structure. Both did dissipate, but the aquafaba held on longer than the egg white by about 15 minutes at room temperature. It kept its structure in the fridge about an hour.
For the complete Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz, please head over to the recipe page!
This is just the beginning of the experiments. How it will work with other ingredients and spirits will require a lot more research, but that’s the fun part! I hope you guys go out and experiment too. If you’re curious about an ingredient, or have any questions about aquafaba I didn’t answer, feel free to leave a comment or reach out on social! Cheers!