The Food Lab: Use Chickpeas to Make the Easiest Egg-Free Mayonnaise

The Food Lab: Use Chickpeas to Make the Easiest Egg-Free Mayonnaise

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It works, but it requires a good amount of tofu—enough that you can taste the tofu a bit in the finished product. It's also not a perfect emulsifier, making it a little less stable than a traditional mayonnaise. For the past year or so, I've been hearing a lot about aquafaba, the protein-rich liquid found inside a can of chickpeas. It's pretty amazing stuff—you can whip it into stiff peaks like a meringue, use it to leaven pancakes and waffles, or make light sponge cakes, all without any eggs at all. You can also use it to make mayonnaise. I tried making mayonnaise with it the way many recipes instruct you: replace the egg in a traditional mayonnaise with three tablespoons of the protein-packed liquid. It's possible to make a thick emulsion if you are very careful with the rate at which you add your oil, but the chances of your mayonnaise breaking are much greater than with a traditional mayonnaise. Moreover, the finished product is much looser than an egg-based mayo. It has the characteristic thin, shiny, slightly greasy appearance of an emulsion that's hanging on by the skin of its teeth (or should I say the skin of its legume?). Why do eggs work better than chickpeas? Eggs are remarkable emulsifiers because they emulsify in two distinct ways. The first is physical, and the second is chemical. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil and water, and, like all emulsions, it is inherently unstable. Oil molecules are physically repulsed by water molecules, making it very difficult to get them to coexist harmoniously. They naturally want to separate. To get them to combine, you need to add an emulsifier. Physical emulsifiers work by adding viscosity to the liquids. The more viscous a liquid, the less it flows, and the more slowly individual oil and water droplets come into contact with each other, helping the whole thing stay in suspension.

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