Homemade Mayonnaise

For my very first post, I thought it appropriate that I write about one of my first culinary successes.  I had always been clueless in the kitchen and often had to be saved by my mom before I ruined whatever I was attempting to make.  I’ve since learned to start with the extremely simple, and my first success was with salad dressing.

"real" mayo sandwich

I next mastered homemade mayonnaise.  I realized I had no idea what mayonnaise really was, how it was made, or what its ingredients were.  How do you turn a bunch of liquids into this globular, spreadable white mush?  It turns out that the mayo you buy in stores isn’t anything like traditional homemade mayo, and the store-bought stuff has creepy ingredients, stabilizers, and nutritionally-devoid oils.  Real mayonnaise is so much tastier and much more colorful.  So I did some online research and discovered the basic, necessary ingredients.  An egg yolk and mustard act as emulsifiers to bind together oil and either vinegar or an acid like lemon juice.

If you’re interested in learning more of the history and traditional recipes of mayonnaise, Wikipedia has a good page about it.  Alton Brown also has a really informative (and entertaining!) episode about homemade mayonnaise.  He reminds us that fresh eggs work the best.  He makes it differently than I do, but I think my slightly less complicated way works alright as well.

The first time I tried homemade mayo, I used:

  • 1 egg yolk (preferably free range or local)
  • 1 small spoonful (around 1 tbsp) of ground mustard (however I think Dijon mustard is more traditional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (preferably organic)
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

the finished product

In a food processor, you blend the first four ingredients until incorporated, and then you add the oil slowly until the mayonnaise becomes your desired consistency.  My food processor is tiny and doesn’t have a spout, but it worked fine to pour in a bit oil, close the top, mix until incorporated, and repeat.  Also, please note that my measurements are far from exact, so I suggest using whatever quantities look right to you.

In my subsequent batches of mayo, I’ve added more spices and even minced herbs like basil or parsley, which I highly recommend.  I’ve also experimented with using different oils.  I still always use a combination that contains olive oil because I don’t want to mess with the flavor too much, but I’ve tried adding coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), bacon fat (leftover from cooking bacon), and I’m planning to try adding canola oil soon (though I mostly use olive oil because it’s healthier and less refined/processed).

mayo on toast, the beginning of a beautiful sandwich

Homemade mayonnaise completely transforms sandwiches, toast, or anything else on which it can be spread.  I’ve even used it in egg salad.

There may be cause for concern for some of the ingredients.  We’re dealing with raw egg yolks after all!  I find, however, that being thoughtful about where your eggs come from and how the chickens were treated (local farms and free range chickens make the “happiest” eggs) eliminates almost all of the risk.  (Also refrigerate your mayo, and don’t keep for more than a few days to a week to be safe.)  The true test of how “happy” your egg is is in the color of the yolk.  Traditional, caged egg yolks tend to be pale yellow, whereas free range or organic yolks are bright yellow and almost orange, a product of all the extra vitamins and nutrients chickens consume when they’re outside.  Of course the color, size, and shell varies because happy chickens aren’t controlled or modified to produce perfect, large, spotless, white eggs, but that’s the beauty of it!

I hope this post convinced you try making your own mayonnaise, if you haven’t been making it already.  I promise once you try it, you’ll never go back!

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Comments
3 Responses to “Homemade Mayonnaise”
  1. Mom says:

    Great first post. I am inspired by you and embarrassed to say that I have yet to make my own mayo!

  2. Nana and Pop-Pop says:

    Erin,

    The mayo looks scrumptious. I do think we’ll be content to sample yours sometime in the future. We do look forward to more delicious recipes. Do we see a book of recipes from you on the future?

    Nana and Pop-Pop

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