If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients on the back of a commercial mayonnaise, you might be surprised to find chemicals, preservatives, and high-fructose corn syrup (HCFS). In fact, “light” mayonnaise that contains lower amounts of fat often incorporates an array of surprising ingredients your great grandmother wouldn’t have even recognized as food. From commercial mayonnaise, here are a few ingredients on the label: CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA, SUGAR, HCFS, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
While I receive kind of scary letters from the corn growers PR people when I mention HCFS in an article or blog post, I feel I must here. HCFS is an artificial sweetener made from fructose and sucrose. It has been linked to the growing obesity problem, and it is always best to limit all forms of sugar, including HCFS. Some experts believe HCFS is even more responsible for obesity than table sugar because of the way your body processes it, and some evidence suggests it contributes to liver scarring and cirrhosis. As with everything, the key is moderation. Unfortunately, because HCFS (more recently called corn sugar, but don’t let the new label fool you. It’s still HCFS.) is so ubiquitous in processed foods due to how cheaply it is produced and how plentiful it is, the negative health effects may prove to be exponential.
Homemade mayonnaise, however, contains only a few natural ingredients that just about everyone recognizes as something you can eat: egg yolks, oil, acid (lemon juice or vinegar typically), and salt. If you’d like to flavor it, you can add chopped fresh herbs, citrus zest, minced fresh garlic, or chipotle. Making it is an easy process. You can use your blender, a whisk, or a food processor. I’m going to describe the food processor method here, although it is easy to adapt for any equipment once you know the process.
- Yolk of one egg
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons acid (lemon juice, lime juice, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, etc.)
- 1 cup of oil (macadamia, olive oil, avocado oil)
- Pinch to 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Place egg, acid, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process a few seconds to combine.
- Your food processor should have a tube in the feed chute you use to push vegetables in. In the removable circular tube in the middle, there should be a small hole in the bottom. Fit the tube into the feed chute, and turn on the food processor. Pour a few drips of oil in the tube with the processor running. When that oil has been incorporated in the mayonnaise, pour a little more. Next, fill the tube with the oil and let it run in a slow stream into the egg mixture as the processor continues to run, until you have incorporated all of the oil.
- That’s it. Making mayonnaise is quite simple, and the homemade product tastes fresh and delicious. If you do not have the round feed tube with the small hole in the bottom, or if you are using a whisk, then you need to begin incorporating the oil very slowly while whisking constantly. Start with a drop or two of oil, add another drop or two, and then begin to add the oil in a very thin, slow stream while whisking constantly. If you add the oil too quickly, the mayonnaise will fail to emulsify.
- Chipotle-lime mayonnaise: Replace at least 2 teaspoons of acid with fresh squeezed lime, add 1/2 tsp of lime zest, and a dash of dried chipotle.
- Lemon-basil mayonnaise: Replace 2 teaspoons of acid with lemon and add 1/2 tsp of lemon zest. Roughly chop seven a small bunch of fresh basil and process it with the mayonnaise at the end to blend.
- Garlic mayonnaise: Use red wine vinegar for your acid, and add the full 1/2 tsp of salt.Take one to two cloves of fresh garlic and put them through a garlic press. Put them in with the egg mixture and pulse the food processor to blend. Proceed to add your oil as instructed.
- Mayonnaise will keep up to one week when tightly covered and refrigerated.
- Use the freshest eggs possible.
- You can use whole eggs, which creates a lighter, less creamy mayonnaise. You may need to adjust your oil slightly, so keep an eye as you process to determine when it is done.
- If your mayonnaise fails to emulsify the first time you try it (and occasionally I still have a batch go awry), try it again, adding the oil just a little bit more slowly and making sure you do not stop whisking or processing as your incorporate it.
- You can incorporate other oils such as extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil; however, remember they are very intensely flavored. If you do use these oils, I suggest only adding a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup of them in order to avoid overpowering the mayonnaise.
Getting creative with the acids you use will change the flavor and character of your mayonnaise.