What Does Aquafaba Cost? It’s Free!
I say aquafaba is free because I am going to use those chickpeas anyway for a salad, sandwich, or stew and the broth was headed straight down the drain. When I studied Industrial Engineering back in 1902, we called this a “sunk cost.” We can agree to call it a “sink cost” if you like. Home-cooked beans cost less than canned ones and have other advantages too.
On the other hand, if you are really just after the aquafaba (AF) and will throw out the beans, then aquafaba from canned black beans is the best bargain, followed by canned or home-cooked chickpeas. See the chart below, then read on for other ways to think about this.
Is Homemade Aquafaba better than Canned?
For most but not all situations, homemade aquafaba is best. Here are seven aspects to think about.
- Flavor. The liquid from canned beans sometimes has a chemical aftertaste. That taste is diluted and masked by most recipes, but why risk it? The real taste advantage comes from the chickpeas or beans themselves. Homecooked legumes are firm and flavorful, perfect for chickpea salad, hummus, and other recipes.
- Salt content. With homemade AF, you can control the saltiness, which may be important if you are cooking for someone with a heart condition or high blood pressure.
- Environmental impact. Dried beans don’t need energy-intense cans or ink-laden labels. You use local water instead of shipping it from where the beans were canned. Dried beans double or triple in size while cooking, so it takes two or three times more trucks to bring cooked, canned beans to your store. Pre-cooked beans need bigger boxes and more shelf space at the store.
- Cost. Dried black beans are the best bargain, but black-bean AF works best in recipes with dark or strongly flavored ingredients.
- Flexibility. Dried chickpeas are a great value because you can use chickpea AF in any recipe, including delicate lemon meringues.
- Urgency. If you just need an “egg” for a recipe right now and you don’t have any AF on hand, grab your can opener. Make a note to save your AF from your next batch of beans.
- Storage space. If you have bean overload, use canned beans. You’ll need less storage space. The first December I discovered aquafaba, I took them to parties and gave them as gifts. My freezer was overflowing with chickpeas. We ate a lot of hummus and chickpea stew that winter. Now I freeze AF through the summer and fall to have on hand for the holidays.
Look for BPA-Free Cans
If you do use aquafaba from canned beans, choose BPA-free cans. The Environmental Working Group says government studies have linked BPA (bisphenol A) to cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty, and heart disease. BPA-free can liners may be risky too, but are less studied.