How to Make Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is a permanent emulsion made by suspending tiny drops of oil (any kind) and water (usually lemon juice or vinegar) in an emulsifying agent (egg yolk which contains lecithin) using a whisk. It’s an easy at-home condiment to make, tastes so much fresher than store-bought, and can be easily manipulated into thousands of flavor profiles with the addition of simple herbs and spices.
Depending on the oil you use, your homemade mayonnaise will range from ecru to a pale yellow. Olive oils will produce a distinctive fruity flavored mayonnaise with a pale yellow color, while neutral oils, such as sunflower, will produce a mayonnaise lighter in color and flavor. You can also play with the viscosity of your mayonnaise by the amount of oil you add. The more oil you use, the thicker your mayonnaise will be.
Mustard makes it happen
The secret to getting mayonnaise to act like mayonnaise is establishing the initial emulsion before streaming in all of the oil. A dollop of mustard, which also contains emulsifying lecithins, and a few drops of oil added to the egg yolks will ensure your emulsion will stick around to form mayonnaise.
Slow and steady makes the best mayo
Once the initial emulsion is formed, the oil can be whisked into the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. The slower the oil is added, the smaller the oil droplets will be, creating a more stable mayonnaise.
The raw truth about raw eggs
It’s unlikely your eggs will be contaminated with salmonella. And while acid (lemon juice or vinegar) will prevent bacteria from growing, unless you have a kit and can test the Ph levels of your mayonnaise at various stages of emulsion, it’s impossible to know if the acid in the mayonnaise has killed any pathogens. If you’re concerned about salmonella, are pregnant, or have a compromised immune system, use pasteurized eggs to avoid contamination.
Hand-eye coordination required
Mayonnaise requires some serious multi-tasking. One hand will need to hold the mixing bowl steady and stream in oil, while the other hand briskly whisks. If you’re smart (like I know you are), you’ll have a mayo-buddy there with you to hold the bowl steady, or use a damp towel to keep the bowl from spinning wildly while you stream and whisk. There’s always the “push the bowl into your chest while leaning the other side of the bowl against the coffee maker so you can stream oil and whisk” technique, which is a favorite of mine.
Why not use an egg beater?
If your hand held mixer has a whip attachment, by all means, use it. Otherwise, your small-batch mayo should be whisked by hand since there won’t be enough mass for your standing mixer to mix.
Servings: about 1 1/4 cups
Prep time: 20 minutes
Allergy info: soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free; contains eggs
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 cup cold pressed, unrefined olive oil
1 tablespoon organic white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Freshly cracked black pepper
In a medium glass, ceramic or non-reactive bowl whisk together egg yolk, mustard and a few drops of the oil until thick. While constantly whisking, stream in half of the remaining oil. Add vinegar and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue adding oil while whisking until desired consistency is reached. Stir in additional salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.
Add 1 small garlic clove, minced, along with chopped fresh herbs such as tarragon and flat-leaf parsley. 1/2 teaspoon of organic sugar or honey will create a sweet and tangy mayonnaise. Toasted, ground spices such as curries, cumin seeds or smoked and dried chiles will create a colorful and fragrant mayonnaise and the perfect base for many sauces or dressings.