Please do NOT hold the mayo!
One of the best parts of mayo is that it makes an excellent vehicle for other flavors as well. Fundamentally, it’s only really two ingredients, egg yolk and oil. Some people add mustard, but that gives such a different flavor as to really be a whole other sauce.
Mayonnaise or Aioli?
Some say mayonnaise comes from Italian aioli, which is oil and garlic, others say aioli is a derivative of mayo. The important part is that it’s really easy to make fresh, wholesome (compared to commercially made brands) mayonnaise.
The Science of Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is an emulsified sauce, which means that two unmixable liquids become mixed and bound. The liquids in mayonnaise are the oil and the water from the yolks which normally wouldn’t mix and be stable, but the lecithin and the protein from the egg act as emulsifiers that bind together the oil and water to keep them mixed and stable.
Think of salad dressing from the store. You have to shake it up every time you want to use it. That’s because it isn’t bound. It’s a temporary emulsification. With mayo, the protein and lecithin make all the molecules stay together. Otherwise you would have to re-mix the mayo before each use.
Making the perfect mayo…
A key factor in getting the two liquids to bind is patience. Yep, patience. The oil needs to be added very slowly so that the yolk has enough time to absorb all of the oil. If you add your oil too fast the sauce will break.
Once broken, the sauce is done and you have to start over. For practice purposes, if this happens you can reclaim the oil, but not the egg yolk.
What you need
To make the mayonnaise, you can either use a whisk, a hand mixer, an electric mixi
ng bowl, blender, or a mortar and pestle.
One issue with using a blender is that the heat from the motor can cook the eggs. I can’t imagine using a mortar and pestle.
I use a mixing bowl when I can. If you are going to mix by hand, it’s a good idea to put a damp towel under your bowl. This is to hold the bo wl in place and catch any spilt oil.
Here is a basic mayo recipe from a video of Gordon Ramsay making Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
An acid is generally added to help stabilize the mix and add flavor. I like to use fresh squeezed lemon juice, others use different flavored vinegars. To remain neutral, use plain white distilled vinegar.
Add the egg yolk to a bowl (blender/ mixer) and mix, keep mixing constantly whilst adding the oil.
When adding oil you need to watch closely. You should add the oil at a trickle and watch for the egg yolk to absorb the oil before adding more. A thin layer of oil on top is ok.
Continue to add oil while mixing, maintaining the same level of oil on top of the mixture. If you can maintain that thin level while adding more, you are adding and mixing at a good rate. When you are finished when you have all the oil added and no oil spots should remain.
If you end up with too thin of a sauce, you can add more oil, but remember that the yolks can only hold oil to approximately 85% of the total volume. Any more than that and the sauce will break.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
When I make mayonnaise I use extra virgin olive oil. I like the flavor and the health benefits of using a pure, unsaturated fat, and oil is fat. Any oil will work, and some may add their own flavor, such as olive or sunflower seed. If you are making the mayo as a base and intend to add other flavors, a neutral oil like soybean might be best.
Don’t forget to season with salt/ pepper squeeze of lime or whatever you like at the end!
To make aioli, add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic. To give the mayo more zing, use a flavored vinegar. Experiment and have fun!
If you add your oil to fast or the mixture breaks for some reason you can reclaim (save) your oil by following the process below.
To reclaim the oil you can
- heat the mixture over a double boiler by placing your mixing bowl over a pan with water in it.
- Slowly heat the pan up, eggs cook at 165 degrees and we don’t want to heat the oil up to a cooking temperature. Do not stir. Let the eggs sink to the bottom and cook. It will look like sloppy scrambled eggs.
- Once the eggs are solidified you can simply pour the oil through a strainer into a heat-proof container and discard the eggs. This oil should be allowed to cool completely before reusing.
Please do NOT hold the mayo! Enjoy!