Oh, grocery store mayonnaise. It tastes fine, it is SO easy, and it is SO cheap. That's the trifecta of grocery store value, isn't it?
Why in the good Lord's name would I ever want to make (from scratch!) something that cheap, easy, and decent-tasting?
I'll tell you why.
The ingredient list. Horror!
I have looked and looked (and looked), and I just can't find any store-bought mayo (even from the "natural food" aisle) that meets my criteria:
No canola oil
No soybean oil
No mysterious "vegetable" oil
No "flavors" added
There is a very good reason I can't find a product that doesn't contain those first three oils: they are "shelf-stable" (read: rancid, but deodorized and bleached so they will last forever without anyone suspecting), and basically ubiquitous on the American grocery store shelves.
Even the seemingly improved olive oil-type mayonnaise uses canola/soybean/vegetable oil to achieve that shelf-stability and mild flavor that people expect. And with the recent expose on not-so-virgin olive oil this last year, who knows what that mayonnaise really contains, anyway?
But for me (and maybe for you?), having those old familiar sauces and condiments that were a part of my childhood made eating other real food seem a little less scary, a little more...doable. There is just something about the taste of normal mayo from a glass jar that makes my frightening and strange homemade soaked or sprouted sourdough taste like a comfort food.
Also, who learns to make and understand emulsions when they are growing up in the kitchen? Not I. Ants On A Log? Yes. Mysterious oil-and-water-come-together-at-last? No.
These are all the reasons I was afraid to make homemade mayonnaise. Oh, and did I mention that I once went all out, gung ho, with my lightly-flavored olive oil, mustard, whey, egg yolks, and trusty, splattered copy of Nourishing Traditions, and started to make mayonnaise, only to have it "split" when I added the oil too fast? Unfortunately, I didn't know the damage could be repaired, so I just tossed everything in the trash and put that on my list of "Things I really don't want to try again."
We carried on, eating grocery store mayo and trying not to think about it.
But, oh, that ingredient list.
Well, the other day, I just had enough.
I am pleased to announce to the world that I have conquered mayonnaise. Feel free to applaud loudly and extol my grit and determination.
I have to thank my husband (again) for motivating me in this department. He is doing so well with his new Paleo eating, and I so wanted him to have decent sauces to put on his food. My sour cream ranch was just missing something, so I decided I'd better make mayonnaise to put in it.
It was only a little scary!
And I learned:
- You can make a mayonnaise-type emulsion with any kind of oil you like, as long as you have an egg or egg yolk to emulsify it. The egg yolk contains lecithin, which is the secret ingredient that makes the oil and other liquids blend together.
- Don't make your mayo in the blender if you have to take the lid all the way off to drizzle the oil in. It will make a mess. It will get all over your face and hair if you peer in. I am still cleaning mayo off my kitchen cabinets.
- If you hand-whisk your mayo in a bowl, it will be easier to see whether the oil is emulsifying, rather than guessing and hoping while it whirs in said blender.
- If your mayonnaise "splits," or doesn't emulsify, DON'T throw it out. All that good oil floating on top can be re-mixed with a new egg or egg yolk for a second try.
Have you ever made your own homemade mayonnaise? How did it go? Do you have any ideas or advice to share?