Homemade Mayonnaise is one of the great revelations of the kitchen. It's made easier with using a food processor or blender and once you've made it you won't want to buy it again.
Mayonnaise is a bit like alchemy, you're taking two substances that are pretty unpalatable on their own - oil and raw egg - and by combining them in the right way and adding flavourings you create a miracle.
I eat mayonnaise most days. In sandwiches instead of butter, on salads, on grilled meat and fish. Really with anything that doesn't have a sauce of its own.
What's in Homemade Mayonnaise?
There are two reasons for making mayonnaise. One is it tastes better. The second reason is that you know what's in it.
Because the ingredients don't want to mix, mayonnaise is inherently unstable, so manufacturers have to add all sorts of things to stabilise it.
Homemade mayonnaise keeps for a few weeks in the fridge - I often keep mine for a month, but my fridge is very cold. To make it last longer in the shops, you will also find preservatives on the list of ingredients.
I always use olive oil, the best I feel like affording. Partly for flavour, but also because of the health benefits.
(If you ever watch Trust Me I'm a Doctor, you may recall an episode where the research was about the effect of daily olive oil on heart health. Taking it by the spoonful seems a bit of a penance, when eating homemade mayonnaise is such a pleasure.)
The only time I don't use really good olive oil is when the mayonnaise will be mixed with a stronger flavour, such as the spices for Coronation Chicken. Then I use something like a supermarket cold-pressed olive oil. That will be a blend from around Europe.
I prefer cold-pressed oil because heating degrades oil's nutritional quality and flavour. If it doesn't say cold-pressed on the bottle it won't be cold-pressed.
You can use other types of oil in Homemade Mayonnaise, especially if the taste of olive oil is a bit strong for you. Then I'd recommend mixing it half and half with canola oil.
Yolks or whole egg?
For years my homemade mayonnaise used whole eggs. Then one day I made loads of meringue and had 6 egg yolks to use up, so I made mayonnaise with the yolks only. It made an incredible difference. A great recipe tasted even better. But there is a downside: it's more likely to curdle. One solution is to use a bit less oil but now I compromise with 1 egg plus 1 yolk - unless it's a meringue day!
You need to have the eggs at room temperature. If your eggs are in the fridge, just put them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes to warm up. Don't use hot water or the eggs will cook.
On my hobby-horse here: I only buy organic eggs. They don't cost much more and the hens are kept in much better conditions (and no automatic antibiotics). Please, at the very least, buy free-range - think of the hens, not to mention the over-use of antibiotics.
White wine vinegar - any sort. Not malt vinegar, which is actually a contradiction in terms - vinegar means soured wine - and which hasn't been anywhere near any wine.
An added benefit of wine vinegar is that it's gluten-free, if that's an issue for you.
This is the preservative and it's why homemade mayonnaise keeps for a while, so don't be tempted to leave it out.
Salt, pepper, mustard - either powder or ready-made. All you need. My mother often likes to add tarragon, which is very nice for a change and makes a pretty green sauce.
How do you make mayonnaise?
Making an emulsion
Urgh! That sounds like paint. Getting egg, which is water-based, and oil, which isn't, to mix gives you the emulsion.
If you don't do it properly the mayonnaise will curdle, and that's why it has a reputation for being difficult to make. It can be temperamental, but I have had very few occasions where it doesn't work the first time (and a remedy for it) - and I make it once or twice a month.
There are two rules you must follow to get the ingredients to form the emulsion:
First, make sure the ingredients are at room temperature.
Second, add the oil slowly to the egg:
- Very slowly, at first, with the motor on your machine of choice running the whole time.
- Make sure that it's very thoroughly combined before you add the next spoonful.
Have pauses between additions of oil - i.e. you stop adding oil but the machine keeps mixing. Many recipes tell you to add the oil drop by drop, but that isn't necessary with a processor or blender. But at first, it's half a teaspoon then teaspoon by teaspoon. As the ingredients combine you can add more oil at a time.
Why did my mayonnaise curdle?
If you make mayonnaise as often as I do, it's bound to curdle at some point. Actually, if you make it infrequently it's more likely to curdle. As with anything, practise ensures success.
If it curdles, first try to figure out why so that you don't immediately repeat the mistake. Yes, I have done that. The main reasons are:
- Eggs or oil were too cold
- The oil was added too quickly at first
- The oil and eggs hadn't combined to make an emulsion before the next bit of oil was added.
So warm up your ingredients or be prepared to take longer to make it - really, it's only 5-10 minutes anyway.
How to rescue curdled mayonnaise
Don't throw it away! Curdled mayonnaise can be rescued. You will have more than you bargained for, but that's a minor issue.
You just need to start again with a fresh egg. Then add the curdled mixture SLOWLY as if it were the oil and make sure that it's thoroughly combined before adding more. Let it run or a minute or two maybe. You won't overdo it.
You will need some extra oil, so you will end up with more mayonnaise.
What else can you make with mayonnaise?
There's so much you can do with mayonnaise apart from adding to a salad.
Make Prawn Cocktail sauce by adding some tomato ketchup and Tobasco Sauce or Coronation Chicken sauce with curry powder and mango chutney.
You can add to tuna in baked potatoes or Tuna Pasta salad or mix with chopped boiled eggs for a salad or in sandwiches.
It's good for you, anyway. Eat more homemade mayonnaise!
What else do you need to make Mayonnaise?
- A food processor - or a mini-processor or a blender. You can make mayonnaise without electric help, but I don't. For me, it's the technology that moves Homemade Mayonnaise from the province of the to the Everyday Cook.
I love my Magimix Food Processor, which I've had for over 20 years, and will replace it with another if, or when, it dies.
If you like this...
...Why don't you try:
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 500 ml olive oil, at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar (20ml)
- 1 teaspoon mustard, rounded teaspoon (10ml)
- Put the eggs in the processor and turn it on. Let it run for 20-30 seconds to mix the egg wellLeave the processor running the whole time
- Add about ½ teaspoon of oil and let it combine well
- Add more oil a teaspoon (or slow drizzle) at a time with a pause between additions (but keep the machine running). Continue until all the oil is used up or until you see it sitting on the top and not mixing in
- Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the vinegar, mustard, pepper to taste and at least ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
- Process again
- Adjust seasoning if needed.
If the mayonnaise curdles:
- Tip everything into a jug as soon as you see it start to curdle
- Start again with 1 egg
- Repeat steps 1-3 above using the curdled mixture instead of fresh oil.
- Once the mixture is used up add extra oil to bring the total you have used to 700-750ml
- Continue as above, steps 3-5
Ingredients:Oil - The better the quality of the oil, the better the flavour of the mayonnaise. Eggs - For a richer mayonnaise, use 1 egg and 2 egg yolks. Reduce the oil to about 400ml.
- Prawn Cocktail Sauce - Add 1 teaspoon (5ml) tomato ketchup to each 20ml mayonnaise
- Coronation Chicken Sauce - Add 1 teaspoon (5ml) garam masala or curry powder, 1 heaped teaspoon (15ml) mango chutney and 5-10g sultanas to 100g mayonnaise