I am pro-mayonnaise. I know it’s made with oil, and oil has calories and fat. I’ve decided I don’t care.
Since forever I have gotten my mayonnaise from the store. I’d always assumed its thick, creamy consistency was the work of some emulsion voodoo that only professional chefs or food chemists were trained to pull off. And the raw egg. How can this be safe? I’d wonder, scanning the food label in the store’s unrefrigerated aisle. How long has this been sitting here? And what in the world is Calcium Disodium EDTA?
I had questions, but because the answers might threaten my situation later with a tuna salad, I threw it in the cart and kept moving.
Recently I was home cooking when I realized I was out of mayo needed for a recipe. You know you can make your own, my husband said. This was not the first time he had mentioned this to me, but I ignored him every time. The process seemed like a giant pain involving a web of culinary rules, a 50/50 chance of failure and a sink full of dirty food processor parts and greasy spatulas. Also, good quality oil was not cheap. The thought of winding up at the end with nothing to show for my efforts except a runny mess and drained oil bottles was too much.
That day, though, I was in a bit of a jam. It was weekend food prep day. I’d already gone to the store and had all my other ingredients lined up. My husband rightly refused to go back out again for a single bottle of mayonnaise. A normal non-food-obsessed person would have said oh well and simply made other plans, but I am not that person. My whole reason for waking up next week hinged largely on this spicy tuna bowl recipe I’d been dying to make, which was really just an excuse to get at the real prize: the lush, tangy and slightly spicy mayo topping.
I had come so far already. I would not be denied.
I searched the internet for homemade mayo recipes. One cut through the clutter: Melissa Hartwig’s recipe from the Whole30 site. Five reasons:
- I liked the emphasis on choosing an oil lower in polyunsaturated fat.
- I had all the ingredients on hand.
- I could avoid pulling out my food processor, cutting the process down to 3-4 minutes using my trusty Blendtec at its slowest speed, or even my new favorite method: a $32 KitchenAid immersion blender used directly in a glass mason jar.
- “What could go wrong” explanations were complete, detailed and easy to understand.
- Success was all but guaranteed, provided the steps were followed exactly.
Friends. If you’re going to spend your food calories on mayonnaise, shouldn’t it be the absolute best – and freshest – you can have? Go to Melissa’s site, write down her recipe on a sticky note, and stick it on the inside of your kitchen cupboard above the sink. Trust me, you’ll have it memorized in no time.
Oil. Egg. Mustard powder. Salt. Lemon juice. That’s it. Five minutes later, the creamiest, thickest and most delicious mayo you have ever had.
You must plan ahead though:
- Keep a lemon out on your counter at all times. It must be room temperature, and added only at the end. I know what you’re thinking. That you will remember to take the lemon out of the refrigerator the night before. You won’t. There are hacks to bring an egg to room temperature quickly, but not much you can do with an ice cold lemon except wait it out. Tip: Despite what the directions allow, use *only* the juice of 1/2 lemon or the final consistency will be too runny. Reserve the other lemon half for salad dressing.
- Take your egg out of the refrigerator at least 4 hours before you plan to make the mayo. They say it’s safe to leave the egg out overnight, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Three to four hours is my comfort threshold.
- Use an empty condiment squeeze bottle to squeeze out oil at an excruciatingly slow pace/thin stream during the blending process. This is where the magic happens. Rushing this step will likely result in an emulsion fail. Tip: I know the Whole30 recipe defaults to light olive oil, but I didn’t care for the subtle aftertaste. Use your own personal taste as a guide, but my preference is a high-oleic safflower or sunflower oil. My brand of choice is a 34oz bottle of 365 brand from Whole Foods for $5.99. Trader Joe’s also sells a liter bottle of sunflower oil for $3.99, which is not only cheaper but works just as well.
Like I said, I’ve tried making this both ways, with a traditional blender and with an immersion blender. Both were successful, but I exclusively use the immersion blender-in-a-mason-jar method because it allows me to double the recipe and avoid having to transfer the mayonnaise from one container to another. Once I’m done, I just screw the top on and put it in the fridge. It takes up the same footprint as a traditional bottle of mayonnaise you’d get from the store, and the quantity is ideal for a family that goes through a lot of tuna fish sandwiches any given week.
You don’t have to be a follower of the Whole30 program to benefit from this recipe. Use it as a base for your own flavored variations, as I did with my spicy mayo blend* below.
*This spicy mayo blend is NOT Whole-30 approved. If you are strictly following their program, stick to the base recipe or else research your own Whole30-compliant hot sauce and make other substitutions as needed. Another option: eat something else.
- 1/2 cup homemade Whole30 mayonnaise (recipe link above and also here)
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I like Eden brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free/low-sodium tamari or soy sauce (or choose a soy-free option like Coconut Aminos)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha or Gochujang Korean chili sauce (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon raw honey (optional; if you like your mayo more tangy than sweet, omit).
The additions thin out the original consistency somewhat, but everything firms back up nicely once it’s re-refrigerated. A spoonful of this is yummy on my bedazzled asian-inspired salad w/ramen. You can find Gochujang sauce at any asian grocery store, at specialty markets like Whole Foods, or online at Amazon.
I’m experimenting with all kinds of flavor variations, which I’ll post sooner or later. I hope news of this recipe gets you off chemical-laden, store-bought mayonnaise for good, as it did for me.