Food Experiments: Mayonnaise

I don’t remember where I got it in my head that I wanted to try to make my own mayonnaise. Might have been Alton Brown. Might have been my Cooking Club magazine. At any rate, it seemed pretty simple.

Tonight was the night I decided to go for it.

Attempt #1 began with two egg yolks, a cup and a half of olive oil, hot water, lemon juice, and seasonings. These items were poorly combined in my food processor, with oil poured in entirely too quickly, and the mayo never set up for a myriad variety of reasons. I even tried pouring it into the blender instead, to no avail. Batch #1 was a miserable failure, and went straight down the kitchen sink.

Attempt #2 began with a different recipe, from the book my Memaw bought me about a year before she died. Every time I have a stupid, basic cooking question, I crack open my copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, and I say aloud, “OK, Memaw, how do you make _____?” as I flip through the index. This time, Memaw and Mr. Bittman taught me how to make a basic mayonnaise — including the proper technique.

One whole egg, ¼ cup of peanut oil (as a basic neutral oil), 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, and identical seasonings went into the blender. Then I slowly, s – l – o – w – l – y added another 3/4 cup of oil as the blender blended.

And, holy shit, I had mayonnaise.

It’s a little excessively lemony, and a little runny, so I think I know which ingredient to back off next time. That’s OK, because I’d intended this batch mainly as a base for tartar sauce; but I do want to perfect the method and the recipe before I move on to something a little different. After I get the basic thick mayo downpat, my next version will use diluted vinegar instead of lemon juice, and will include some Splenda, for a more Miracle-Whippy type of mayo.

My homemade mayo will never be like Hellmann’s, but it’s fun to make — and maybe I can stretch out our “real” mayo just a little and spice things up by having something a little different in the fridge.

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