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Aquafaba: Your new egg white substitute

Vegans rejoice! The mystery of finding a good substitute for eggs and egg whites may be solved by something you normally discard. 

Aquafaba is the funny name—"aqua" is Latin for water and "faba" is Latin for bean—that refers to the liquid in canned beans or the cooking liquid that remains when you cook beans and chickpeas. Most of us simply pour this liquid down the drain, but food researchers are discovering a variety of ways this starchy protein can be used to replace egg whites in many recipes. 

Pumpkin, bananas, applesauce, prunes, nuts and seeds can work well as whole egg substitutes, but many egg replacements aren't always an option for those who are vegan or gluten sensitive. And, there just wasn't a good alternative for the more delicate recipes that rely on egg whites, such as meringues, mayonnaise and baked goods. The hunt began for a simpler, whole-food approach to egg whites that tasted better. 

According to aquafaba.com, the unique mix of starches, proteins and other soluble plant solids, which remain in the cooking water, gives aquafaba a wide range of uses. Most of the time, aquafaba is the liquid left over from canned or cooked chickpeas, but butter beans and other beans and legumes have produced a similar result.

Because it's still so new, food researchers are still exploring how best to use aquafaba. I encourage you to check out aquafaba.com and join the aquafaba Facebook group that sparked it all to share your own experiences gleaned from cooking with aquafaba. So far, it's been used as a key ingredient in cheeses and butters, mayonnaise and aioli, meringues and a whole host of delicious baked goods. New products made from aquafaba are also showing up on store shelves and in other commercially produced foods and baked goods. 

To get you started on your cooking trials with aquafaba, here's a basic meringue recipe. 

Aquafaba meringue 

Generally 3 tablespoons of aquafaba is equal to one egg. Aquafaba's consistency should mimic an egg white so according to aquafaba.com, "it should be a little slimy, but not too thick, and not too runny."

Strain the liquid from a 13-15 oz. can of chickpeas, place it in a stand mixer with a balloon whisk and whip at high speed until firm peaks form. 

Slowly pour in 3/4 cup of granulated sugar until well combined and glossy. (You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without it spilling out). 

Scoop onto parchment paper in 1½ inch blobs. 

Place a preheated 200F degree oven for 1.5 hours, then let cool.

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