Recipe File: Homemade Mayonnaise
Last night I was making potato salad and tuna salad when I ran out of mayonnaise. I usually have a jar of Best Foods Real Mayonnaise (Best Foods is also known as Hellmann's) in the refrigerator, but this time I forgot to buy some more when I ran low. Although I have made my own mayonnaise in the past (usually for special occasions because homemade mayonnaise is so good), I usually prepare recipes with the store bought variety because it lasts about six months in the refrigerator (while homemade might last up to week). Of all the brands available, I find the Best Foods (or Hellmann's) brand to be the best tasting and most natural (fewest unidentified ingredients) of the supermarket mayonnaises.
Too lazy to leave my home in the middle of food preparation (and too nice of a guy to send Tina on a mayonnaise buying errand), I grabbed a clean bowl and my whisk to make some of my homemade mayo.
All you need are two large egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of white pepper, and 1 cup oil. I ran out of lemon juice last night (I just keep running out of ingredients), so I used about 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. I also froze the two large egg whites in ice cube trays for later use. For the oil, I used extra light olive oil because of its very faint (almost nonexistant) flavor and nutritional and health properties.
I put the yolks, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into my mixing bowl and whisked until smooth and light. I then whisked the oil, a few drops at a time, into the mixture. I made sure the mixture was smooth and well integrated before pouring the next few drops of oil. The whisking will suspend the oil into the yolk mixture and adding the oil a little at a time will keep the mixture in a state of emulsion - which is what we want.
After about 1/3 cup of oil has been whisked in, you can speed up the pouring a bit. Make sure the mixture is back in emulsion before pouring any more oil. Once all the oil has been whisked in, you have mayonnaise. This is a good time to add any extras, a spoonful of dijon mustard and extra salt and black pepper is usually what I add.
Because handmade mayonnaise is mostly egg yolk, the mayonnaise will have a healthy yellow color. Store bought or machine made mayonnaise usually also contains egg whites which will lighten the color up as well as lighten up the flavor. Anything you don't use immediately, put it in a jar and refrigerate. It should hold for half a week to a week.
|2 large egg yolks||whisk||whisk oil in drop by drop|
|3 Tbs. lemon juice|
|1/4 tsp. salt|
|pinch of white pepper|
|1 cup oil|
You might note that I called both mayonnaise and vinaigrette dressing emulsions. But, a vinaigrette eventually seperates while mayonnaise maintains its state of emulsion. This is because of the egg yolks which contains a substance called lecithin (an emulsifier). You may have seen lecithin as part of the ingredient list of store bought ice cream and salad dressings. This substance when mixed with water (the lemon juice) and oil (the olive oil) helps hold the two together in suspension. Of course, if we kept mixing more and more oil into the mixture, we would eventually overwhelm the emulsifier and the whole emulsion would separate (at least that's what I'm told, maybe one day I'll do it to see what happens when you mix in too much oil).