Monday, June 06, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

Whenever I thought about making mayonnaise, I thought of failure. All I had heard about was how difficult it is to make and keep the emulsion, and how easy it is to break it and end up with an oily, gloppy mess. In addition, it is labor intensive; you have to add the oil drop by drop, whisking vigorously with every drop, which seemed both time-consuming and labor-intensive, neither of which have any appeal for me.

And then I read about a method of making it with a stick blender. You just throw an egg, some lemon juice, dried mustard, salt, and the oil (in that order) into a tall narrow container, and insert the stick blender down to the bottom of the container, turn it on, and slowly bring it up, and when you are done you have a nice batch of mayonnaise. It seemed pretty straightforward, so I tried it, and knock me down if it didn't work beautifully. The first time. I was hooked.

I was a little concerned about using raw egg, but not overly. I was already buying from local brands, if not organic, and none of the brands I buy have ever been listed on any of the recent egg recalls. But then I heard about Vital Farms eggs, which come from organic pasture-raised chickens down in Austin. I know it's always a crap shoot, but it seems the chances are less likely that there will be any contamination problems with these eggs. They are expensive, so like Laura at Wringing out My Sponge (which is where I found out about them), I use them only for mayonnaise or when I need raw eggs. So far, a dozen eggs has lasted me quite a while (and no, I don't worry that much about the best by date on eggs).

The only problem I had with the stick blender recipe was that it used a whole egg, and I wasn't sure what those egg whites were doing to the overall effect. I also wasn't sure what would happen if I used only the egg yolk with the immersion blender, however, and I didn't want to end up with an oily, gloppy mess. And then I read online about someone who made mayonnaise with a stick blender using only the yolk, so I decided to try it. It worked just fine.

But I think that was just beginner's luck. The next time I decided to make it I was not so lucky. I finally ended up with that oily, gloppy mess about which I had heard so much. I knew the way to fix a broken emulsion was to start over with another egg yolk, and then gradually add the gloppy mess. So I put another yolk at the bottom of the jar, added the gloppy mess, inserted the stick blender down into the bottom of the jar, turned it on, and slowly brought it to the top, which is the way to make mayonnaise with a stick blender.

But alas, it was not to be. I now had two very expensive egg yolks invested in this batch, so I wasn't about to give up. But I did know better than to try yet another yolk with the stick blender. I decided it was time to try the old fashioned, drop by drop whisking method.

It was an intense process, because I didn't really know what I was doing and you don't know if it is working properly until you're well committed. Never having done it by hand before, I was sweating it. I heard you should add the oil a drop at a time, so I was literally adding one single drop at a time. I don't know if you've ever tried to pour one single drop of oil out of a measuring cup, especially when it has failed mayonnaise ingredients in it as well, but it is a messy business. But I persevered long past the feeling that my arms were going to fall off and, lo and behold, an emulsion was formed and I had mayonnaise.

As you can see if you compare this mayonnaise to the batch up at the top, it was rather yellow from the three yolks, and it was quite thick. I added some hot water to thin it out and it thinned out to a more mayonnaise-like consistency.

It was not the best tasting mayonnaise, but it was good enough to eat, especially in tuna salad, which is where most of it went. And I was proud of myself for having finally mastered the elusive emulsion.

But I went back to my stick blender when I whipped up my next batch. And ended up with another oily mess. Part of me suspects it was subconsciously intentional because I wanted to see if I could do it again by hand. I could. With only two yolks it was not as yellow as this version, but it was still one more yolk than I wanted or needed.

The next time I decided to just skip the stick blender altogether. I felt comfortable enough with the hand method that it just seemed easier. And I discovered that when they say to add the oil a "drop at a time," they don't literally mean one drop at a time. They just mean in really small batches. So it wasn't nearly as labor intensive as the first two times. And since I knew what I was looking for in terms of successful emulsion, I didn't have to beat the mixture nearly as frantically as I had before.

The result was what you see in the picture above. It was my most successful to date, in look, texture, and taste. Much better than what I had been producing with the stick blender. Enough better that I have decided to use this method from now on. Yes, it is labor intensive, but I don't make it that often and when I do make it, I want it to be the best that it can be. And, as with every other condiment that I have started to make myself, it gets easier every time.

If you've never made mayonnaise before and are nervous about it, I would recommend that you start with the stick blender (if you have one), so you can get an idea of how the process works. I will post the recipe for that as well as the hand version. But if you are like me, it won't be long before you are whisking it up by hand.

Whichever method you use, I think you will find that it tastes so much better than what you find at the grocery store.

The first time I made the stick blender mayonnaise, I used olive oil. While successful, it was almost fluorescent green in color and tasted like olive oil. Which was not bad in and of itself and it was quite tasty with saffron added and mixed into this lovely potato salad that I made for a spice blogging event. But for everyday use, I like to use an unflavored oil like canola or grapeseed.

The biggest secret to a successful mayonnaise? Make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature.
Home Cookin Chapter: Sauces

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 egg, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp Fresh lime juice, room temperature
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil

Place all of the ingredients in the order listed into a jar that is just wider than the wand of the stick blender.

Position the blender at the bottom of the jar so that the egg yolk is sitting directly under the blade. Turn it on and, rocking side to side, slowly pull it up to the top. This should only take about 5 to 7 seconds. The mixture will emulsify as you bring the blades up, so you should have mayonnaise by the time the blender reaches the top of the jar.

Check the seasonings and adjust to taste.

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (
Makes about 3/4 cup

1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp dijon mustard, room temperature
1 Tbsp lemon juice, room temperature
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil

In a very small bowl combine the lemon juice, vinegar and salt and set aside.

Combine the egg yolk and the mustard in a small, heavy mixing bowl. With a whisk, break the yolk and blend well with the mustard. Add a scant dribble of the oil and whisk it thoroughly into the egg and mustard mixture. Once it has been incorporated, add another dribble and whisk thoroughly. Continue until you have added about one half of a cup of the oil, dribble by dribble.

By now the emulsion should be set and the mixture should be somewhat thick. Add about half of the lemon juice, vinegar and salt mixture and whisk well. This should thin the mixture but will not break the emulsion. Start adding the oil in larger amounts, about a teaspoon at a time. After the next half cup of oil, or when the mixture becomes unwieldy, add the rest of the lemon, vinegar and salt mixture. Continue whisking in the oil in larger amounts, up to a tablespoon at a time, until it has all been incorporated. If the mayonnaise is too thick, you can thin it with hot water, adding in small amounts at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. It will thicken in the refrigerator.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...