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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home-made Mayonnaise

Like many other things that appear here, this, too, was James's idea. A few weeks ago he came to visit and brought me a box-full of home-made mayonnaise. He told me about his adventures trying to make it, hand-whipping it, not quite getting the consistency right, adding another yolk and finally finishing it off in the food processor to a grand finale. He made an egg salad and several sandwiches generously slathered with mayo. The consistency and the flavor of the mayonnaise were so light and fluffy you could eat it with a spoon and completely forget about the oil in it. I was hooked. A few days after he left, I made my own attempt at mayonnaise. I started with the blender, broke the emulsion, continued with the food processor, which only made things worse, and finally decided to hand-whip it, which to my utter surprise, did the trick! Oh, so good!

The video below is our join second attempt to make mayonnaise (success!).

Home-made Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk at room temperature
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cool water
1 C oil
1/4 tsp salt

Yields: 1 C

Notes on the ingredients: The yolk needs to be at room temperature. If you want to speed the process, submerge the cold egg in a cup or warm water. After a couple of minutes pour out the water, add some new warm water, leave for a few minutes and keep doing this until the egg no longer feels cold to the touch. The oil needs to be very mildly flavored. I recommend canola oil or vegetable oil or sunflower oil. In the video we use 1/4 C of quite strongly flavored olive oil but the result had a seriously strong olive oil flavor - I would not recommend doing this. Either use very mild olive oil or only add a Tbs of olive oil if you want to impart that flavor.

The making of:
1. Combine the yolk, the water and the lemon juice in a deep bowl. Whisk to combine.
2. Start pouring the oil in a very thin stream and whisking vigorously. The mixture should be smooth and pale, initially very thin. It will start to thicken at the point when you have added about half the oil. Keep whipping until all the oil has been incorporated.
3. Add salt to taste and mix it in. Refrigerate - it will thicken even further.

I don't know about James, but my main inspiration to make mayonnaise came from Michael Ruhlman's new book "Ratio". I came across the mayonnaise chapter when I was browsing the book online and I was stunned to find out that the key ingredient to achieving an emusion (i.e. mayonnaise) is not the yolk but the liquid! Yolks come in all sorts of different sizes. What is important is how much water and/or lemon juice you add. The basic rule of thumb is 20 parts of oil to 1 part of liquid. One cup is equal to 16 Tbs which is approximately 20. There is a wide range of ratios that can be emulsified but 20:1 seems to work and is easy to remember. I think 1 C : 1 Tbs is also easy to remember. If you don't add the liquid, you will not get a thick emulsion. My Mom used to make mayonnaise with yolk + oil + citric acid when I was a kid and it always turned out thin and runny. I am guessing the lack of water explains that.

Finally, before I leave you with our feature presentation, what is a broken emulsion? If you add the oil to quickly the mix will start looking like curdled milk - the oil and the yolk will separate. That's not good, but fear not. Pour out the broken mix into the cup cup with the remainder of the oil, wash the bowl, add a teaspoon of water to the clean bowl and start over, pouring the broken emulsion in a think stream and whipping. That should fix it.

Now get yourself a glass of wine, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

From Movies


James said...

That video is awesome! I've never wanted to dance so much with mayonnaise. =]

Light olive oil works quite well. It doesn't have the strong flavor of extra virgin, and it doesn't have Omega-6s of seed oils. Win win.

April Cavin said...

There is nothing better than homemade mayo-- I first made mine using Ruhlman's book and have always had success with it.

Diana Bauman said...

I love homemade mayo! A staple in every Spaniards diet :) Great blog!!

Cooking Dad said...

I recently made some tomato ketchup which worked out incredibly well. Next up is mayo. Thanks for sharing!

Ivastar said...

Thank you all for the positive responses!