How to Make Mayonnaise - Instructographic and Recipe

Homemade Mayonnaise in just four steps. That's right, that's all it takes.

Mayonnaise...

... one of the handiest things around. You can lightly dress a sandwich with it, devil some eggs, add it to salad dressings, make tuna or egg salad, coat chicken to oven fry...It's really just a small handful of ingredients and a simple whisk that stands between you and heavenly spread.

The problem is fat, right? So why not buy low-fat or reduced fat mayo? Usually these have icky additions such as more sugar and they still use cheaper soybean oil as the main fat. Oils can have healthy fat or unhealthy fat - chiefly we’re talking about Omega-6 fatty acids. Without geeking out too much, just know that the important thing is to eat Omega-3 and Omega-6 in proper balance. Americans tend to eat an unhealthy balance skewed heavily toward the Omega-6.

Commercial mayonnaise will also often contain preservatives and possibly other things you can’t pronounce or don’t wish to put in your mouth.

Now, I’m not trying to sell you on Mayonnaise-as-health-food. BUT, I AM hoping to persuade you to try making this at home. One the advantages of making your own mayonnaise at home is the nutritional profile as compared to store-bought. Taste is the other, arguably more important, reason to get out a whisk and a bowl and get cracking. Once you get the basic technique and proportions down, you can tailor your mayonnaise to your taste.

 

What you need:

Two things: a simple list of ingredients which may already have on hand,  and a simple technique.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice OR white wine vinegar OR see below
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 to 1 cup canola, grapeseed or other neutral tasting oil
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper (optional)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Whisk the egg yolks, mustard and acid.
  2. Drip, and I do mean drip, oil in while whisking. Patience is good here.
  3. As the egg yolk mixture begins to come together and you can see the drips of oil disappearing, you can begin to add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream.
  4. Taste and add salt, white pepper, cayenne to taste. You may also wish to add a pinch of sugar.

 

Options, variations, uses:

Remember when making something with only a few ingredients, especially something you will be eating fresh or cold, the quality of the ingredients is key to a good result. Use the best quality you can for each of the elements, you'll taste the difference.

Acid: Some people insist one must use only lemon juice. Others opt for white wine vinegar. Others like a combination, while still others insist no combining is allowed. Pfft. My only rule is not to use bottled lemon juice. I love Katz' Sparkling Wine Vinegar, and often combine it with lemon.

Oil: I prefer a light, neutral oil. In the instructograph above I began with grapeseed oil. I didn’t want mayo with a greenish hue (olive oil may do this as well) so I added canola oil.

If you wish to increase the proportion of good fat to bad in your mayo, you can use avocado oil, or nut oils, maybe flaxseed oil or light olive oil (first cold pressed, organic). I suggest beginning with a combination of canola and grapeseed.

Seasonings: Some people prefer only salt and white pepper - you may also use black if you don’t mind flecks of black in your mayo. You can omit cayenne altogether, but I like a little. You may add more acid like another squeeze of lemon or vinegar. Taste it and see what you think. Try adding lemon zest or grate garlic on a microplane to create an aioli.

The chief thing to understand is that you are combining two things that don’t want to be combined. In order to make the oil and vinegar play nice together, that is, stay combined in a nice creamy mayonnaise, you need two things: emulsifying agents and technique.

Here, our emulsifiers are lecithin and mustard. Lecithin? You’re wondering where I slipped that in? Egg yolks! These two ingredients are key. In the instructographic you may have noticed a tiny little dish on the lower right of our mise en place that is unlabeled? That is a little water. Water can help the mayo come together if you go too fast with the oil or don’t whisk vigorously enough. But usually it’s not necessary.

Technique:  whisking. The whisk with its loops, incorporates air and if you want to test yourself, try using a fork instead. That’s a workout! You can also use a blender or a stick blender. I think it tastes better whisked but I may be deluding myself there.

If your emulsion "breaks", that is the oil separates from the egg yolks, stop adding oil, add a couple drops of water and whisk vigorously. It will magically smooth out and re-combine.

Now go make yourself some wonderful homemade mayonnaise. Holler when those deviled eggs are done.