This is an interesting topic for me because whenever I think of going vegan I think “oh no but I don’t want to give up eggs” and I’m torn. I think when I turned vegetarian my intake of eggs increased significantly because I saw them as a source of protein (and the saviour susbtitute to a bacon sarnie when I have a hangover) so it would be a big adjustment to me to give them up. But the more I read and learn the more I want to cut back and find some alternatives.
Now I have no experience of cooking without eggs, especially baking etc, so I have done some research online and these are the tips, techniques and recipes I have found. I hope this will help us all understand a little bit more about eggless cooking!
What Could be used as an Egg alternative?
The Vegan Society Website explains a little bit about why vegans may not want to eat eggs and some alternatives. They suggest the following –
instead of 1 egg, you can use…
1 tbsp gram (chick pea) or soya flour and 1 tbsp water
1 tbsp arrowroot, 1 tbsp soya flour and 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour, 1/2 tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water
50g tofu blended with the liquid portion of the recipe
1/2 large banana, mashed
50 ml white sauce
But for me personally looking at this list I still have no idea what recipes these alternatives would be used in, how they would be used and why! I understand an egg is used as a binder in many recipes so by adding flour with water you make a sort of paste which would be used to bind dry ingredients! I think a little further reading is needed so I went back to google and found this –
The Chef In You Website really helped me understand the science behind it a bit more and also how you may use different flavours:
-In such cases, to substitute eggs you would need an ingredient that plays the same role. Like mashed potatoes, cooked rice, bread crumbs, cooked pasta, oatmeal, grated cheese, flaxseeds, commercial egg replacement products, Tahini, nut butters, silken tofu, tomato paste, arrowroot powder etc.
-In cases of Sweet based goodies (like drop cookies), you can use fruits like Banana, applesauce, Xanthan Gum, agar agar (or non vegetarian equivalent like Gelatin), custard powder, cornstarch to perform the binding function. Keep in mind that using fruits can alter both the density and taste of the finished product.
-In case of Baked Goods, you can use flaxseed (1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp hot water, whisked and set aside until thick and sticky). But if it’s also acting as a leavening agent along with binding then add in additional ¼ tsp baking powder.
So basically an egg is used in cooking to bring dry ingredients together (for example in cakes) and also to create lightness and air (for example in meringue or yorkshire puds). It is easier to replace an egg in a recipe where you just need a binder as there are plenty of sticky natural ingredients out there! You need to consider the flavourings (for example don’t use a banana in a savoury dish) and how it will effect the consistency of the final dish.
What are some of these ingredients?
I looked up “Arrowroot” and discovered that it is a plant that grows in America. The roots are washed and then mashed into a pulp, passed through a fine sieve and then dried to create a powder. Wikipedia says –
Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream. It can also be used as a thickener for acidic foods, such as Asian sweet and sour sauce. It is extremely valuable in cooking when you wish to have a clear, thickened sauce, for example, a fruit sauce. It will not make the sauce go cloudy, like cornstarch, flour or other starchy thickening agents would. The lack of gluten in arrowroot flour makes it useful as a replacement for wheat flour in baking. Like other pure starches, however, arrowroot is almost pure carbohydrate and devoid of protein, thus it does not provide a complete substitute for wheat flour.
Xantham Gum is another one which I have heard of before but I have no idea what it is and where it comes from. Again I looked at Wikipedia for the answers and they say this – Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, derived from the bacterial coat of Xanthomonas campestris, used as a food additive and rheology modifier, commonly used as a food thickening agent (in salad dressings, for example) and a stabilizer (in cosmetic products, for example, to prevent ingredients from separating). It is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Later, it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum.
…..erm……yeah….so moving on….. What I do know is that you can buy it from the Doves Farm website
The last ingredient I wasn’t sure about is Agar Agar and I found this fantastic website called My Real Food Life who actually have an extensive list of egg replacers so I suggest if you are looking for a more in depth view to egg substitutes then head over there! I am just dipping my toe in the water in this post. She explains that Agar Agar powder can be used like this –
Made from finely ground seaweed, sprinkle it on your wet ingredients and let soak 5- 10 min. It is a gelatin substitute and binding agent used by vegans. It is a ‘short’ gelatin; it doesn’t rise very high and can sometimes be brittle if you use too much. Best used for cookies, ice cream, and mini tea loaves. It works great in vegan pumpkin pie, and terrific in my vegan vanilla pudding. Use 2-3 tsp per egg you would replace. You can find it cheapest at your local Chinese or Indian grocery store. You can also get agar ribbons and grind them in your coffee or spice grinder to make your own powder.
I think it is so interesting how endless the posibilities of food are, I think this shows that being a vegan doesn’t mean you only eat vegetables. It just means with a bit of knowledge and planning the world gives us so many more natural ingredients to be played with and that vegans can have their cake and eat it too.