Thursday, November 01, 2007

kitchen essentials — homemade mayonnaise

growing up, store-bought mayonnaise never made its way past the doors of my home until my late teens. up until that time, my parents, both europeans, refused to buy it, believing something was wrong with it — for some reason, they couldn't get past the idea of north american mayonnaise being completely white and made with preservatives. it definitely did not look like the the kind they knew.

mayonnaise was always made by hand, arduous as it may seem, and in small quantity. whether that was by design or just because it wouldn't last as long as a manufactured one, i don't remember having oodles of it in the fridge ever. what i do remember is that it was the colour of buttercups and with one taste of it, you immediately knew it was sinful and definitely not to be consumed in large amounts.

making your own mayonnaise, is a must try — at least once — to see the difference between the real stuff and store-bought. it's also a good exercise in trying your hand at classic cooking and "la technique". the homemade version is 1,000 times richer tasting and, in my opinion, infinitely superior. those who have never had it may find it not to their liking mostly because they have never had the real thing before and expect mayonnaise to taste like the hellmann's or kraft's version.

before embarking on such a project, there are several things to note when making your own:
  • all ingredients absolutely need to be at room temperature;
  • only use the freshest of eggs — old egg yolks just won't do;
  • the final mayonnaise must be kept refrigerated; don't leave it out on the counter;
  • beginner and novice cooks should opt for using an electric beater rather than whisk (at least for the first several times);
  • rinse your (metal) bowl with hot water and dry it before starting.
now go crack your egg and make some homemade mayonnaise and impress yourself and those around you! :)

homemade mayonnaise

yellow like butter, thick and creamy smooth, this unctuous and centuries-old silky egg and oil emulsion is easier to make than you think. it's also better than anything you'll ever buy from a store. use it on your sandwiches, pipe it into fancy rosettes on your hors d'oeuvres or just eat it with a spoon!

makes approx. 3/4 - 1 cup


1 egg yolk, at room temperature
6 oz vegetable oil or 5 oz veg + 1 oz olive oil
{you can use up to 8 oz of oil per egg yolk}

1/4 tsp salt
1 - 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 heaped tsp dry mustard powder*

2 - 3 tbsp salted water, optional**
1 tbsp boiling water

*is used to help emulsify the ingredients and add flavour
**use to thing down the mayonnaise


make this at your own risk — raw eggs not recommended for elderly, youngsters or infirm.

in a metal bowl with a good whisk (or electric mixer), beat the egg yolk with the salt, mustard powder and vinegar. beat it until it lightens in colour (pale yellow) and is well-blended.

now the tricky part ..... introducing the oil.

this must be followed EXACTLY or you'll end up with a curdled mess (which can be salvaged)*; adding the oil must be done very gradually or it will not bind properly with the lecithin in the yolk.

*if you screw up, start again with another egg yolk, mustard and salt and use the curdled mixture in place of the oil. it should re-amalgamate without any problems. just go slowly as described in the procedure.

the first step is to add, literally drops, of oil to the lightened yolk mixture. this allows the lecithin to activate.

gradually add 1 tsp of oil to the yolk mixture, completely incorporating it. this is repeated several times, until you see it start to thicken up.

always make sure the oil is completely incorporated (not visible to the eye) before adding more oil.

the final step with the oil is to introduce the rest of it, by tablespoon.

once you have a nice emulsion, you may add the rest of the oil by 3 tablespoon amounts.

you may, along the way, thin down the mayonnaise with teaspoons of salted water but only once the mayonnaise has stabilized and thickened. do not add it in the "teaspoon" stage.

to finish the mayonnaise, as it is called, 1 tbsp of BOILING water is added and mixed in well. the mixture must then be refrigerated for at least 2 hours for it to thicken up maximally. the water is added to prevent oil seepage and make a more stable mayonnaise.

use the mayonnaise within a week, or so, and make sure it is refrigerated as it contains raw egg yolk.

(in small quantities, of course!)


sarita said...

bureka, este post es la prueba definitiva: sólo los grandes saben hacer hoy en día mayonesa!¿seguro que eres canadiense? creo que tienes alma mediterranea ;).aquí todos hacemos esta salsa en casa pero...sólo aceite de oliva, por favor!!!!
p.s.years ago, when i was a student and didn't own a whisk, i was able to make mayonesa with a fork!

maninas: food matters said...

wow! you use use the whisk? great! :) sounds like hard work. my brother and I tried making mayo when we were kids - we were crazy like that. we didn't have any mustard though, so it didn't turn out that great :)

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

BB, I think Sarita has you pegged!

She's right about olive oil, though; when would you *not* want to use olive oil for mayonnaise?

burekaboy — said...

sari - LOL! un grande?? es sólamente una cosa que preparábamos en casa cada mes. pero es verdad que casi nadie la prepara hoy en día. especially here, you only get it in good restaurants like that. {y sólo por nacimiento soy canadiense!}

aceite de oliva, yo sé, yo sé ... :) i use 50/50 or 75/25, olive to vegetable oil, usually. depends on who is eating it (aqui la gente, en general, no esta acostumbrada comerla asi preparada con aceite de oliva).

never tried with a fork. you can even make it with a wooden spoon if you are "good" at making it.

hey maninas - wow, children making real mayonnaise -- that IS crazy! LOL. using dry mustard does make a difference but we also made it without. btw, using a whisk is hard work!

emily - hehe, i think sarita is being too generous! ;)

as for the olive oil, i agree but not everyone likes it that way. we actually used olive oil and a stronger one, too. a lot of people switched to using a mixture because of the cost of it -- e.g. 2 cups of pure olive oil is $$ compared to 50/50 or just vegetable oil. also depends on which people/country is making it.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great! Nothing can compare to homemade mayonnaise! At home, we also never ate the store-bought version... I always make mine.



burekaboy — said...

hi rosa - here, just the reverse, almost no one makes it at home. it's always store-bought and white. pales in comparison to the real thing.

TopChamp said...

When I was at school I word 1 day a week as a kitchen hand in a tea room and my 1st job each week was to make a BIG tub of fresh mayo.

I see recipes and it always sounds difficult but I used to do it without any concern when I was little so it must be easy enough! I quite like normal bought mayo though and use it so rarely that making it would be unnecessary.

burekaboy — said...

hi TC - lol, don't think i've ever made more than 2 cups of it at a time! can't imagine making a big vat ;) it isn't difficult at all, especially with a mixer.

i always keep a bottle of the store bought one as a back up since the real stuff doesn't last long and i don't have the time (or sometimes inclination) to fuss over making my own.

we also have this mayo stuff here which is very, very sweet (and sour) called "miracle whip" -- some people think that THAT is mayonnaise! i think it's barf-worthy, but others love it.

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

My mayo cheat is to mix olive oil into Hellman's... great with a steamed artichoke!

burekaboy — said...

emily - i kind of do the same thing but mix in garlic paste, spices, etc. it's all good :)