I know it sounds crazy, I know it sounds old-fashioned, I know it sounds pointless…..and to some, yes, I know it sounds downright dangerous. But someday, everyone should try to make homemade mayonnaise. I mean, there was a point in time where the only way to get mayo was to make it yourself, right? Now, it just seems so complicated. I wonder if that’s a plot on behalf of Kraft and Hellmans/Best Foods to keep their loyal following…..now, I’m not saying that my mayo doesn’t usually come from a jar. I’m not really brand loyal (although I do refuse to eat generic mayo after bad childhood experiences with JFG) and really like Kraft and Hellman’s (these days I buy the olive oil varieties….they’re very good, lower in fat, and good for your heart). Sometimes, however, I just really like a good homemade mayonnaise, one where I can control the variables. Plus, when it’s not on sale, it’s just downright expensive to buy it at the grocery store….so in rides homemade, on its white horse (unfortunately, I do not possess the ability to make lowfat homemade mayonnaise at this juncture in time). I promise, it’s not as complicated as it sounds!
This recipe makes about 3/4 cup of mayonnaise.
Start by separating one egg and placing the yolk in a bowl. I’m going to stop right here. This is the first point at which some of you may be freaking out. Yes, there is a raw egg yolk. However, I buy my eggs from a trusted source, and no one in my house is a child, elderly, pregnant, or immune-compromised. We’re good. If you have someone in your household that fits any of the aforementioned descriptions, or you don’t know where to get eggs you trust, or you’d just die before you’d ingest a raw yolk, you can also buy pasteurized eggs. They are available at Publix now and are considered safe for raw consumption.
Moving on…..add to the yolk 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, a pinch of sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, white wine vinegar, or a combination of the two, and whisk together completely.
Now, this next step can be done in two ways. You can pour the oil from the measuring cup, or you can pour it into a squeeze bottle (like you’d use for ketchup or mustard-thanks Alton!) and put the lid on tightly. I like a combination of olive oil and canola oil, which gives a pretty strong olive oil flavor. You can use olive, canola, corn, or safflower oil. I use 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup canola, and pour them into my mustard bottle.
Now, begin squeezing the oil into the bowl drop by drop, whisking all the while. If you pour it in too quickly, it WILL NOT emulsify. This is a great activity to do with another person, as the simultaneous pouring and whisking is easier if two people are involved. Once you get about half of the oil in, whisk in another 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, vinegar, or a combination.
Once the mayo has started to emulsify (thicken and form a homogenous mixture) you can add the oil a little more quickly, but don’t go too fast. Once you’ve finished making the mayonnaise, conventional wisdom would tell you to put it in the fridge, but based on Alton Brown’s recommendation (here’s the second point at which I am going to freak you out) I leave mine tightly closed on the counter for an hour or two. This way, the acid in the vinegar or lemon juice has time to kill off any bacteria that could have been in the yolk before entering a state of suspended animation in the fridge. No one in my house has had food poisoning yet. I am very aware of the risks that come along with certain food choices, and I am very careful to buy quality products from trusted sources, store them carefully, and keep my work area clean. I’m probably more likely to get food poisoning from storebought peanut butter than my homemade mayo! By the way, homemade mayo doesn’t look like storebought….obviously!
Now, one of the disadvantages of homemade mayo is that it will eventually separate, and, to be perfectly honest with you, the first time or two you make it, it’s likely to separate too. It’s okay. It happens to everyone. Just put a teaspoon of prepared mustard in a bowl and whisk it with a tablespoon of the turned mayonnaise, then keep adding mayonnaise a little at a time and whisking until it’s all incorporated. This works most of the time….but I can’t make any promises. Last week I threw out a whole batch that just couldn’t be salvaged.
Can’t win ’em all.