U of S researcher 'proud' to be involved in project to develop vegan egg alternative
SASKATOON -- A Ph.D. student in biological engineering at the University of Saskatchewan spent the past year developing a powder form of a common ingredient in vegan cooking: aquafaba, the liquid found in a can of chickpeas.
Yue He (Rachel), an international student from China, said she got involved with the research project to try and provide more food options for those with egg allergies, eating vegan, or wanting to reduce their cholesterol intake.
"I feel very proud to be involved in this project,” He said.
The basis of the 26-year-old's research was to find the best species of chickpeas and the ideal cooking conditions that provide the most consistent aquafaba, which then can be mixed with other ingredients to create foods such as ice cream and mayonnaise.
"There are many people using aquafaba at home with their own recipes … but there are also some problems because even though there are many recipes online, people cannot repeat the same recipe because aquafabas don't have the consistent quality so the goal is to select the best chickpea and standardize the cooking conditions to make sure everyone can get the same products when they make this at home."
After testing out five different chickpea species, He found CDC Leader as the best fit for her research. He then spent several months testing various cooking methods to see what process would create the best aquafaba.
The best cooking conditions call for a 16-hour chickpea soak at 4 C followed by a rinse and then a one-to-one equivalent of chickpea to water sealed in a mason jar and then pressure cooked for 30 minutes.
Still in its liquid form, the aquafaba needs to be blasted with heat to turn it into powder. That powder can be commercially packaged, distributed and sold across the globe. When mixed with water, it has the same properties as fresh aquafaba.
Vivek Patawari, the owner of Karma Café and Yay Thai, called the powder a neat concept.
"Everyone is looking for convenience these days and there are a lot of allergies out there and lots of vegan people out there who are looking for egg replacement so this can fit right in that market," Vivek said.
"Myself and my family, we try avoiding eggs so I think this would be a great alternative for us to pick it up and do some baking at home rather than looking for recipes online."
If He’s research continues smoothly the powder could be on grocery store shelves within two to three years.