Mayonnaise is an emulsion formed by carefully and slowly whisking oil and raw egg together. One type of mayonnaise uses whole eggs, but the more delicate and tasty kind of mayonnaise uses the yolk only. The other ingredients in a basic mayonnaise are small amounts of Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar (or lemon juice). One egg yolk will "absorb" approximately 6 fl. oz. (175 ml) of vegetable oil. You can try to blend in even more oil, but you risk making the emulsion break down if you put in too much.
Some people say that the oil and egg must be at the same temperature, preferably room temperature, but I've never found that rule of thumb to mean much. You wouldn't, of course, use oil that has congealed because it's too cold. Anyway, I start by separating an egg and dropping the yolk in a bowl big enough to allow for easy and vigorous whisking. I dip the end of a small clean whisk (or a fork) into the jar and pull about about a teaspoon of mustard for one egg yolk. It's easier with a whisk, but you can also make the mayonnaise just using a fork. (By the way, in France you can buy Dijon mustard in tubes, as you can commercially made mayonnaise.)
Before starting to whisk the yolk and the mustard together, add pinches of salt and pepper plus a small splash of vinegar or lemon juice (three or four drops — no more than half a teaspoon). The mustard and vinegar will help the egg yolk "absorb" the oil and make the emulsion come together. La mayonnaise « prendra » plus facilement. If you want to add herbs or pureed garlic, you can put them in at this stage. Use whatever kind of vinegar you like, other than balsamic. Sometimes I use wine vinegar (white or red), or cider vinegar, or just plain distilled vinegar (vinaigre blanc).
While I don't worry much about temperature, I do believe that it helps to whisk together all the ingredients I've listed and let that mixture sit and rest for a few minutes before starting to incorporate the oil. Somehow, that seems to prepare the egg yolk to receive the oil. As far as oil goes, you can use what you like. I think huile de colza (canola) makes a thicker mayonnaise than does huile de tournesol (sunflower), but either of these widely used oils will work. So will olive oil, but unless it's the very best olive oil the flavor might turn out to be a little bitter. What I normally do is use a mixture of half colza or tournesol and half olive oil. Any neutral-tasting vegetable oil can go into such a blend.
So you have the egg, mustard, vinegar, and seasonings blended together in the bowl, and you've measured out the 6 fl. oz. of oil into a cup with a pour spout. Now comes the test. Start whipping the egg + mustard mixture with the whisk using one hand and then, using your other hand (or a helper), begin pouring the oil into the bowl in a very thin stream, or even drop by drop, as you whisk. You'll see the oil start blending with the egg into an emulsion that gets thicker and thicker as you go. As the mayonnaise develops, you can begin going a little faster in pouring in the oil. Don't stop whisking. If you accidentally pour in what seems like too much oil all at once, don't try to mix it in too fast. Instead use the whisk to carefully touch just the edge of the pool of oil and gradually pull it into the mayonnaise until it all smooths out. In the photo above, about half the oil has been incorporated, and there's a pretty big pool of oil on its surface. I'm carefully blending it in, little by little.
I made the mayonnaise in this last photo using a half and half blend of sunflower oil and olive oil, with white wine (Chardonnay) vinegar. The egg yolk, olive oil, and Dijon mustard all contribute to its yellow color. It is well emulsified (la mayonnaise a bien pris) but it's a soft, not stiff, emulsion. If your mayonnaise seems too stiff, carefully mix in a few drops of vinegar, lemon juice, or even water to thin it. By the way, the acid in the mixture (vinegar or lemon juice, plus mustard) keeps bacteria from growing and prevents the mayonnaise from going bad. It's best, of course, to keep it in the refrigerator if you aren't serving or eating it immediately. If you use olive oil in the mixture, however, it can congeal at low temperatures, and that might break the emulsion, causing the mayonnaise to separate. You can try to recoup it by bringing it back to room temperature, adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice, and whisking it back together.
Mmmm... and lots of people say they don't see why one makes homemade mayonnaise... I always make it myself, but add the pepper and salt at the end, nex time I try it your way! I like to pour a few teaspoons of colza oil in it because it is healthy and it makes the mayonnaise look yellower...ReplyDelete
Have a nice day!
Putting the salt in at the beginning of the process lets it melt into the vinegar and egg yolk. The pepper, well, beginning or end might not matter as much. Thanks for your good comment. Bonne journée à vous.Delete
Tasty!!! I'll wait to try it at home where I have a better whisk.ReplyDelete
The weather won't slow us up. We're English and used to it!
I used to make mayonnaise using just a fork, back in the days when my kitchen was less well equipped. As for the weather, the sun just poked through for a couple of minutes, despite drizzle most of the morning. Hope you can take advantage of it.Delete
I'm currently going through one of my 'I've given up on homemade mayo' stages. Not because I can't make it but because we don't eat it fast enough and it always grows something undesirable before we've finished it. It is impossible to make in batches of less than about a cup. One solution I have tried is adding yoghurt so the lacto-bacilli protect the mixture. This works, but I don't like the taste or appearance of the end product so much, plus you end up with even more mayo. Adding ketchup also works (presumably because it is acidic), but of course then you have a different sauce. My observation is that temperature does matter when whisking, and by leaving the yolk to rest after mixing with the non-oil ingredients you are effectively ensuring it is at room temp. I've had mayo fail because the egg was too cold, so I always do the thing of leaving the egg yolk for a few minutes before adding the oil.ReplyDelete
There's no reason why you couldn't make half a batch of mayonnaise. Just break the yolk, add the mustard, vinegar, etc., and then used just half of that mixture with half the amount of oil (3 fl. oz.). The rest of the yolk should keep pretty well for a few days, with the mustard and vinegar in it. Otherwise, you have to plan a couple of meals that would be good with a mayonnaise accompaniment over a two or three days' time. As you said, add some ketchup, some hot pepper powder or sauce, and some chopped cornichons and shallots to make a thousand island dressing.Delete
Mayonnaise + ketchup + a spoonful of whisky = cocktail sauce.Delete
I will never eat it, but... everybody loves it and asks for it when they are invited at our home! I serve it with carrots and cumcumber, but I saw people dip their chips in it...
Have a nice day!
I have always shied away from making mayonnaise, thinking it would be way too difficult, but now you've inspired me to have a go.ReplyDelete
If you're making chicken or tuna salad, or some other such concoction, then commercial mayonnaise is fine. If you're having cold fish, chicken, or lamb, or hard-boiled eggs, or vegetables like artichokes or asparagus, where the mayonnaise is not mixed with other ingredients, the home-made stuff is much nicer.Delete
Good, detailed explanation. You also can make it in a blender. But a whisk is so much easier to clean.ReplyDelete
I've never done it in a blender, but maybe a stick blender would work too. I use the stick blender to make whole-egg mayonnaise when I want that kind.Delete
I didn't realize it was so easy by hand. I usually see it being made with some kind of food processor. Thanks for this!ReplyDelete
Is the mustard flavor only very slight? How different does the flavor end up from, say, Hellman's?
You cannot compare, it is far superior to any store bought mayo.Delete
As Nadia says, it is completely different, both in flavor or texture. The mustard flavor is slight. You can put in as much mustard as you want, in fact, or none at all, though I've hardly ever made mayo without Dijon mustard. Hellmann's is made with soybean oil, which contains saturated fats, and it's pretty sweet-tasting, if I remember. We don't get Hellmann's here, and the mayo I buy at the supermarket is made with either sunflower or colza (canola) oil, which is unsaturated.Delete
The ingredients in the latest mayonnaise-in-a-tube that I bought (Bénédicta brand, advertised as "Mayonnaise aux œufs frais, goût frais et délicat") are: Huile de colza, eau, moutarde de Dijon (eau, graines de moutarde, vinaigre d'alcool, sel), jaunes d'œufs frais (5%), vinaigre d'alcool et de vin blanc, jus de citron...) and of course a lot of other stuff like amidon modifié, épaississant : gomme xanthane, sucre, arômes, colorant : bêta-carotène. Bénédicta is now owned by Heinz. For a few years recently, both Hellmann's and Bénédicta were owned by Unilever.
I will try your method- I've always used a blender. I just wish I had a bottle of that Maille vinegar- Maille mustard I can find here.ReplyDelete
Evelyn, for years since we moved here we could never find white wine vinegar, just red. The only white wine vinegar had tarragon in it. Then I started finding white wine vinegar from Portugal that was good. More recently, our friends Jean and Nick happened to see the Maille Chardonnay vinegar in a big supermarket in Tours or Châtellerault. Our Saint-Aignan supermarkets didn't carry it, but now they do. I'm so glad. It's got a good flavor. Then again, I also really like cider vinegar and often use that in vinaigrette and mayonnaise. If your supermarkets carry Maille mustard, maybe they could order and stock Maille vinegar. I'd ask them if I were you.Delete
A just saw this post, said mmmmm, then said you should write a book. I agree on both counts. Your directions are excellent, and soon I will try my hand at making mayo.ReplyDelete
I wish I had the discipline and organizational skills it would take to write a book. For me, doing that kind of writing would be hard work. Blogging is just for fun.Delete
Well, thanks for your blog. I enjoy it each time I read it (Walt;s too!).Delete
Hand whisked Mayo!ReplyDelete
I have to try that now.
It's really easy once you get a feel for blending the oil into the egg yolk. If a batch fails to emulsify, you can break another egg yolk in another bowl and then slowly incorporate the unemulsified egg-oil mixture + some more oil into it, or at least try. If it works, and it always has for me, you haven't wasted anything.Delete
Thanks for posting this Ken. Yes, the "proper versions" are tastier, imo, than the store bought versions. Your oh-so-yellow pictures also makes me wonder why the store bought brands are so very white in color.ReplyDelete
If you look at the video that Madonna posted a link for below, you'll see that that mayo is also very white. My take is that he puts in a lot of lemon juice and a lot of vinegar. I just put a little. Also, I've noticed that American egg yolks are a very pale yellow, whereas French egg yolks are bright orange. I don't know why. Also, the olive oil I use is a greenish-yellow color. If you use just canola oil, for example, the resulting mayo is whiter. I don't think commercially made mayo contains olive oil.Delete
On the egg-yolk color, I've been told by organic farmers that it's because factory-raised chickens are confined and fed on prepared feed, rather than able to move around and forage. Eggs from local organic farmers have orange yolks.Delete
It makes sense that the color of the egg's yolk would have something to do with the chicken's diet. The other thing here is that eggs are always brown and (almost) never white. It's strange for me to a white egg with a pale yellow yolk when I'm in N.C.Delete
I love the details of your post. I appreciate the ratio info. It all makes so much more sense when I know a yolk will accept 6 oz of oil. I have not been successful when my oil and egg were not room temperature, but maybe that was not my problem and only thought it was. I have been using grapeseed oil which makes the mayo so delicate.ReplyDelete
Also, I know you already know the stick blender version, but I love this guy's site. I think of it as a culinary lesson in less that 5 minute video. Everything I have made from his site has been delicious. And, I love his corny jokes. :) http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2007/07/homemade-mayonnaise-recipe-video-big.html
Anyway, thanks for the details, they are always welcome.
One advantage of grapeseed oil is that it doesn't congeal at low temperature. You can keep the mayonnaise in the refrigerator with less risk of it breaking down or separating.Delete
It's true that if you put too much oil in with the egg yolk, at some point the emulsion will break down. Another rule of thumb for making mayonnaise is that it won't work if there are thunderstorms going on. You probably don't have to worry about that too much.
Thanks for the link. The author mentions Hellman's. I've read that it's made with soybean oil, which is not unsaturated. Colza and sunflower oil (if you can get it) are better for you, apparently.
Alright, now you I am going a little bonkers about the thunderstorm info. Now I have to know why.ReplyDelete
No Soybeans for me. That is what got me in trouble to start with. It is so odd that I could eat them, but now I have NO tolerance. I suspect it is something to do with GMO, but have no proof. Soybeans are even in chocolate.
Anyway, good post.