Hold the boring mayo

DIY mayonnaise adds flavor and interest to everyday foods

DIY mayonnaise adds flavor and interest to everyday foods

September 02, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

For a couple of dollars, it's so easy to grab a jar of mayonnaise off the store shelf.

But homemade mayonnaise can be had in a matter of food processor pulses. And it doesn't have to be the same old blah.

"It's relatively simple to do," said Lynn Little, an agent with the Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County office.

Plus once you've made your own, you've got a blank canvas, said Scott Anderson, assistant director and chef with Shepherd University Dining Services. He suggested adding chipotle seasoning to mayo and putting it on a po' boy, or pairing Old Bay mayo with a fish sandwich.

If ever there were a place well versed in mayo slinging, it would be a college campus full of hungry students. But Anderson earned his stripes at a bed and breakfast in New Jersey, where he said the head chef threw knives at the feet of people who messed things up.


"It was like an early version of 'Hell's Kitchen,'" said Anderson, whose new Herald-Mail food column "Local and Seasonal" debuted on Sunday, Aug. 30.

But the pressure's off when it comes to homemade mayo, which is considered a basic sauce among foodies.

Little said traditional mayonnaise is made of egg yolks, oil, lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper.

"I find the food processor or blender are the most successful," Little said.

But using raw egg is a problem, Little said, because eating them can lead to foodborne illness. Even pasteurized store-bought mayo has a two-hour time window outside the fridge, Little said.

She pointed to an easily adaptable cooked-blender mayonnaise recipe from the American Egg Board, which called for the cooking of the egg yolks over low heat before blending. The Egg Board was willing to share the recipe with Herald-Mail readers.

Anderson said one work-around was using pasteurized egg yolks, which he said he's found at Weis Markets and Martin's Food Markets.

But he's still cautious and said it shouldn't linger in the fridge longer than three days.

"When in doubt, throw it out," Anderson said.

Cooked blender mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

Whisk egg yolks, lemon juice, water, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper in small saucepan until blended.

Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles in one or two places. Remove from heat immediately and let cool for 4 minutes.

Pour mixture into blender and cover. With motor running on high speed, Add oil slowly, in a thin stream. Blend until mayonnaise is thick and smooth. Turn blender off occasionally to scrape down sides with rubber spatula.

Refrigerate, covered.

Yields 1 1/4 cups.

To flavor fresh mayonnaise, consider using balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar; or add horseradish or minced, fresh herbs such as basil or chives, minced garlic or minced, sundried tomatoes.

-- Courtesy of the American Egg Board,

10 tips for DIY mayonaise

  • Room-temperature ingredients blend better than cold ones

  • One egg yolk will only emulsify up to 3/4 cup of oil, so use 1/2 cup to stay on the safe side

  • It's easier to make thick mayonnaise thinner than it is to make thin mayonnaise thicker

  • Blenders and food processors make smooth mayo easier than whisks

  • If using a blender or food processor, slowly pulse the mayo or else you'll end up with "broken" mayo, unemulsified mayo that resembles cottage cheese

  • Fix broken mayo by adding one-ounce egg yolk and one teaspoon of water

  • Make your mayo thick, what they call "full mayo" in the restaurant biz. It takes well to flavors.

  • Use olive oil if you're making an Italian-style salad dressing or sandwich spread. The taste of olive oil will be very prominent in the mayonnaise.

  • Use vegetable oil if you're making other dressings or dipping sauces. Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor.

  • It's easy to experiment with spices other than salt and pepper

    -- Sources: Lynn Little, agent with Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County office; Scott C. Anderson, assistant director and chef

    at Shepherd University Dining Services

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