Students whip up crispy crackers from waste product

The whisked liquid left over when boiling beans and chickpeas – aquafaba – can replace egg whites in providing the right consistency for mayonnaise, cakes and desserts. It has therefore become a popular alternative among vegans, but within the food industry it is rare to find aquafaba as an ingredient. Now, a group of Masters’ degree students in Food Technology at Lund University in Sweden have developed a product that potentially could be sold in supermarkets.

– Publicerad den 20 maj 2019

Anna Nieto, Olivia Arbab and Shubha Vasavada.

For several weeks, the food engineering students carried out lab tests to see if it is possible to create a snack that can be mass produced, is plant-based, has a high protein content and contains no added/low levels of sugar and saturated fat – and that also tastes good. 

“We chose to make crackers out of chickpeas, as they contain a lot of protein. When we mixed in the water we used to boil the chickpeas, the crackers became perfectly crispy and light in texture, exactly what we were after”, says Oliva Arbab, a food engineering student at Lund University. 

Now she and her classmates hope that the food industry will adopt the trend of using emulsified vegetable water.  

“It’s no more complicated than using egg whites. There is probably quite a lot of wastage of aquafaba in both restaurants and food companies. I think that aquafaba is a relatively unexplored ingredient for the food industry. However, the crux may be that the chickpeas must also be used for something, otherwise it will become an unsustainable product”, says Olivia Arbab.

The students’ recipe has been developed so that the whole amount of chickpeas per volume of chickpea water is used to eliminate potential food waste.

If they had just added water, comments Olivia Arbab, the crackers would have felt very hard when dried. If they had not added any liquid there would have been no binding of the crackers at all, and it would have just been a powder. Oil would have worked – but then there is the issue of added fat.  

“There are of course both lentil and chickpea crisps already, but they contain high amounts of fat and are deep fried.”

“Our snacks are not competing with crisps, because the taste is very neutral for the moment. And perhaps you don’t want to eat a snack at three o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon that tastes of sour cream and onion”, says Olivia Arbab. 

Aquafaba is currently used to a limited extent by the food industry, which uses the liquid as a substitute for eggs in mayonnaise and certain sandwich toppings.

“The students show that aquafaba can be used for much more, for example to give an attractive structure and texture to snacks”, says Federico Gomez, a lecturer in food technology and the students’ supervisor.

The student’s crackers contain, among other things, aquafaba, chickpeas, carrots and dried nettles.

The group members are Anna Nieto, Shubha Vasavada, Xue Lin, Sera Jacob, Haftom Gebregergs, Guillaume Dive and Olivia Arbab.

About aquafaba:

The liquid from boiled beans and chickpeas contains approximately 1.5 per cent proteins. The proteins are surfactants to a varying extent, which means that they can come between the liquid and air bubbles – therefore, the air bubbles do not burst. This explains why aquafaba can be whisked into a foam.