The name Aquafaba, is becoming increasingly popular as it is being marketed as the future replacement to eggs as an emulsifier and foaming agent.
“Aquafaba is a culinary swiss army knife”
But why is there even a need for a substitute in the first place? If you’ve guessed the growing trend of going vegan then you’re partly right.
Another important factor is the increasing population of people that are allergic to egg protein. An estimated 30% of Indians especially children are allergic to egg protein but are unaware of this. Plus, did you know that you can actually produce aquafaba from waste-materials.
Why egg whites are so important and why do we need replacers?
An egg is a polyfunctional ingredient, Thus providing multiple functions to the food. Being food technologist, we use egg for its three outstanding properties in culinary.
These properties are highly dependent on the temperature, pH and Chemical process.
Egg white replacers are common at this point. But its quite insignificant as they won’t serve the same purpose.
Eggs as emulsifier are simplest to emulate. It provides a bridge between two immiscible liquids. The effectiveness of the replacer depends on its concentration. It also affects the flavour.
Replacing egg for this proposed is very easy. Banana, Flaxseed, Chia seed and silken tofu are examples.
Egg whites coagulate when at high temperature or change in pH takes place. The coagulation is due to the denaturization of the protein presents in the eggs. The rate of coagulation highly depends on the salt, sugar and acid content.
Replacer for coagulation is available as lupini bean, whey protein, gums and wheat product. These products are not able to satisfy the market. Thus the search is still on.
It is one of the hardest features to recreate. Ability to form foam depends on the beating, temperature, pH and water content. Soya milk and whey protein are able to create foam but it is not stable at high temperature.
For an individual on a vegan diet, It’s difficult to get these properties from a single source.
What is Aquafaba?
The word aquafaba was born from combining the Latin words for bean (faba) and water (aqua). When cooking pulses like chickpeas in water, we obtain a thick and viscous liquid. The thick brine from canned beans and peas is also aquafaba.
In 2014 a French musician made a discovery that when aquafaba is whipped it creates egg white like foam. Hence from that moment, it became famous in the vegan community.
During the cooking of the legumes, the water-soluble proteins and sugars inside the legumes are able to leach into the water. 5% of the dry weight of legumes leaches into the water.
Main components of aquafaba
Saponins is the main component that is responsible for foaming property.
All these components are forming a perfect harmony among them.
Amphiphilic proteins create stable bubbles
Starch reinforces the microstructure
Sugar, hygroscopic (holds water) so it prevents the water from weeping out.
What gives aquafaba its emulsifying and foaming properties?
Most scientists agree that some contents of the pulses leak out during the cooking process and this what makes aquafaba special.
The Norwegian Food Research Institute has been performing several tests on aquafaba. Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy is utilized for testing filtered and unfiltered samples. The results show that aquafaba contains mostly soluble proteins and carbohydrates but no fat. This is extremely important as fat inhibits the formation of foam.
The use of High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with Pulsed Amperometric Detection (HPAEC-PAD) was done because it is very sensitive.
Detection of glucose and fructose in free form was present. Galactose is another soluble carbohydrate that is present.
The protein faction provides impressive foaming and emulsifying abilities. There is even a patent for isolated soy whey protein filed for food compositions in 2012.
The carbohydrates stabilize the foam by increasing viscosity of the water-phase of foam. The amount of digestible carbohydrates is minimal so even those with GLUT1 deficiency can consume it.
Sources of Aquafaba
As discussed earlier, aquafaba is mainly obtained from the mentioned sources:
- Brine present in canned pulses
- Water that is present after soaking the pulses
However, the aquafaba that you obtain from the brine present, can be linked to several issues.
Most canned goods have linings of bisphenol A (BPA) and BPA has been known to interfere with hormones. It has links to infertility, cancer, etc. It leaches into liquids, and aquafaba having less viscosity, makes it easy for BPA leaching.
Aquafaba may also cause gassiness due to the oligosaccharides present. The brine also contains high sodium levels to the heavy amount of salts present.
So, we recommend having aquafaba from the water after soaking the pulses. Brine from canned pulses can be used if the cans are BPA free and have salt-free beans.
With aquafaba, the vegan community can now rejoice as aquafaba can be touted to be the egg white replacer that the community deserves.
If you have interests in reading about the Difference Between Being Vegan and Vegetarian, do check our article.