By Angie Quinn

Wait! Stop! Don’t throw away that bean juice!  The Co-op has a sale on canned beans this month, and it is the perfect time to experiment with the newest culinary breakthrough—(wait for it) –bean water! Developed by several vegans who have been sharing their experiments on social media, a new appreciation for that bubbly bean juice has been created. The website www.aquafaba.com tells the story:

“Joël’s Discovers the Foam Dec 2014

While actively looking for egg substitutes, Joël Roessel…discovered through a systematic investigation into vegetable foams, that liquid from beans and hearts of palm can be coerced into a foam in the same way as flax mucilage. He posted his results on his blog at revolutionvegetale.com, providing a key contribution to unlocking the secret of aquafaba.  The problem: Joël’s foam wasn’t stable enough on its own and needed starch and gum to make meringue. It was too technical to be adopted by a wide audience and was specific to foam applications. Like previous vegan meringue attempts, they just did not have the same delicate taste or texture that egg whites have.”

“Goose’s Discovery   Feb 2015

Meanwhile, Goose Wohlt, a software engineer in the US, was experimenting with vegan egg whites and existing meringue techniques based on hydrocolloids. Hearing about the French video, he wondered how the foam could be used to make a stable vegan meringue. This led him to a surprising key discovery — that with the right adjustments, chickpea liquid by itself can act as a direct egg white replacer. He showed that you can create perfect meringues with unrivaled taste and texture using normal egg white techniques. All you needed was just sugar and properly filtered and adjusted bean liquid. He posted his discovery to the popular vegan facebook page, What Fat Vegans Eat, as a simple meringue recipe with two ingredients, sparking a minor revolution of sorts.

This discovery was crucial, in part, because of its accessibility. It meant that anyone in the world could use the ubiquitous liquid from legumes as a general egg replacer through technique alone, not additional ingredients. There was no longer a need for protein isolates, gums or refined starches to achieve simple and delicate egg-like textures. This discovery removed all the previous and remaining obstacles in vegan meringue making and opened up a whole new exciting world of eggless recipes.”

So, the next time you open that can of beans, consider how you might use the liquid that is drained. In cakes, just substitute 3 tablespoons of bean water (I prefer chickpea) for each egg in a recipe.  I add it with the other liquids and sugar, and then whisk it to bubbling.  Or, try it in royal icing and definitely as an egg replacement for meringue.  A friend is currently trying it in vegan matzo balls. You can store the liquid in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze it in ice cube trays for six months.

Then, share your experiences on the Facebook page, “Aquafaba (Vegan Meringue Hits and Misses.)  https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganMeringue