Updated September 10, 2012: New how-to video! The vid should help clear up any confusion about how easy it is to make your own mayo. YAY! Also, be sure to read the comments; there are some great suggestions for how to use a stick blender. I’ve kept my recipe focused on a traditional blender or food processor so you don’t need a special gadget, but if you already have a stick blender, you’re good to go.
Neither the ingredients nor the technique for homemade mayo are unusual or difficult – but mixing up a batch does demand, at least for me, an extraordinary amount of patience. The payoff is worth it: light, silky, flavorful, healthy mayo you can use in salads or on top of grilled meat.
This recipe is from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, circa 1965, so it’s pretty old school. Julia Child recommends mixing by hand. I prefer the blender; you can also use an electric mixer on a low to medium speed.
The magic of mayo is that it’s an emulsion: the oil and egg+lemon juice create a colloid (hello, fifth grade science!). You don’t need to understand all the science, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be successful. I’ve had many, many mayo FAILs*… here’s what I learned to make it just about perfect every time.
1. Your ingredients must all be at room temperature; the egg, oil, and lemon juice want to mingle in a cozy embrace. UPDATE (June 7, 2010): I just made a fresh batch and I cannot stress this whole “room temperature” thing enough. I let my egg and lemon juice sit on the counter top for about 4 hours before starting the blender process, and my mayo came out perfectly, dreamily creamy (see photo below).
2. Take your time. And then go slower than that.
3. Look at the expiration date on your eggs. Add about a week. Write that date on the lid of your storage container so you know when to toss your mayo (if it lasts that long).
4. Do not use expensive, fancy extra-virgin olive oil; the olive flavor is overpowering. I use the grocery store brand “light tasting” olive oil. It barely tastes like olives which is not so good for green salads, but is awesome for mayo. (You might try Filippo Berio or Bertoli.)
Homemade Olive Oil Mayo
2 tablespoons lemon juice @ room temp
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil (light, not extra virgin) @ room temp
1. Place the egg and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Let them come to room temperature together, about 30-60 minutes. Add the dry mustard, salt, and 1/4 cup of the oil. Whirl until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART!
2. The only remaining job is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup oil into the mixture. To do this, you must pour very slowly… the skinniest drizzle you can manage and still have movement in the oil. This takes about three minutes or so. Think about three minutes during a WOD; it’s a fairly long time. Breathe. Relax. Drizzle slowly.
If you’re using a blender, you’ll hear the pitch change as the liquid starts to form the emulsion. Eventually, the substance inside the blender will start to look like regular mayonnaise, only far more beautiful. Do not lose your nerve and consider dumping! Continue to drizzle.
If your ingredients were all at room temperature and you were patient, you will be rewarded!
What To Do If You Experience a Mayo FAIL
If something goes kafluey, the emulsion will “break” and you’ll be left with a jar filled with a quasi-emulsion with the consistency of, say, commercial salad dressing. DO NOT DESPAIR! It can be saved. Pour the liquid into a storage container and place it in the coldest part of your fridge. Wait a few hours (again, with the patience!), then stir vigorously. It will be slightly less thick and creamy than the full emulsion, but still delicious and useful for salads: egg salad, tuna salad, cucumber salad, etc. It will not, however, be spreadable – but we don’t care about that anyway because who among us is still eating sandwiches?!
True story: The mayo in my fridge right now is this “compromise” mayo, and I’ve eaten tuna salad made with it for three days running. At my parents last weekend, I made a batch that was PERFECT: fluffy, silky, spreadable (although we did not spread it anywhere). This stuff is amazingly delicious drizzled (fail) or dolloped (perfect) onto grilled meat.
Here’s the cucumber salad my mom taught me how to make: cucumbers, a splash of vinegar, homemade mayo, onions, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. (Find the recipe in Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat.)
More recipes that include homemade mayo…
I’m excited to once again join the punk rock foodies on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.