The Best Mayonnaise…

I’ve been making mayonnaise at home for a while now. Twenty years ago, when I first began exploring French cuisine, trying recipe after recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking a decade before Julie Powell began her own quest, I made mayonnaise for the first time while working my way through Chapter Two: Sauces.

In my first attempt, I nervously whisked store-bought eggs by hand, wondering if it was worth the effort and risks, and what in the world I would do with a cup-and-a-half of mayonnaise in the couple days before it would spoil. Except for special occasions when I knew I would use it all quickly, I found homemade mayonnaise not worthwhile. Years later, I hit the trifecta when I discovered how easy it is to make mayo with a food processor, learned the technique of fermenting mayonnaise that keeps it from spoiling for several weeks, and had a lovely friend willing to share eggs from her backyard chickens. I’ve been making homemade mayo ever since. For the last year or so, I’ve been using my own chicken’s eggs and making mayonnaise every couple weeks during the summer high-season of mayo use, when cold foods seem to just call out for this luscious, simple sauce.

Of course, having excellent eggs helps this mayo tremendously. My truly free-ranging hens live on a diet of worms, grubs, and backyard vegetation, plus a homemade supplemental mix of whole grains, fish meal, flax seeds, and kelp, sunflower seeds from our garden, and kitchen scraps. They lay eggs with bright, orange-yellow yolks and egg-errific flavor. Since you are not only using raw eggs for this recipe, but leaving the finished product out at room temperature for several hours to ferment, it’s essential to use the highest quality eggs you can find. Seek out a backyard chicken keeper (check craigslist) whose chickens spend at least part of their day outdoors, with access to green plants and bugs. Chickens raised in confinement are understandably stressed and crowded conditions are ideal for spreading disease. Free-range chickens have stronger immune systems and are therefore less likely to be overwhelmed with salmonnella bacteria. Plus, their eggs will be higher in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and D.

The real beauty of this mayo, however, is not its health benefits, but its flavor and how it contributes marvelously to just about anything it accompanies. Perfect all-American coleslaw, lip-smacking tartar sauce (culinary surprise of the year for me was discovering how much I like tartar sauce when I make it myself with my mayo), Green Goddess dressing, Thousand Island dressing, dips galore, amazing egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, deviled eggs…

Besides good eggs, you need good oil, and unless you want a mayonnaise that has a strong taste of olive oil, use mostly a neutral flavored oil, sunflower and safflower being the best in terms of nutritional profiles amongst the neutral oils. Use more assertively flavored oils sparingly. There is nothing to hide any off-notes, so use the very best you can find and afford.

If you don’t make cheese at home and need a bit of whey for making this fermented mayo, buy a high quality plain, whole milk yogurt with live cultures (Nancy‘s is a great local brand here in Oregon), scoop out a bit of the yogurt, then wait a few hours or overnight. The liquid that pools in the spot where you scooped is whey, which you can use for this recipe.

Cuisinart owners: Examine the pusher for your machine, that plastic cup-like do-dad that helps you push food down the tube. Notice the little hole in the bottom? The folks at Cuisinart put that there to help you slowly drizzle oil for mayonnaise. Wasn’t that thoughtful of them? You can literally pour all the oil in there, turn on the machine, and walk away while it makes mayo for you.

Lost Arts Kitchen Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 pint

3 egg yolks
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon whey
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground white pepper (black is fine, too, but the mayo will have black flecks in it)
1-1/4 cups sunflower oil, safflower or other neutral oil
1/2 cup olive oil, or if you prefer a different flavor, try walnut, hazelnut, or sesame oil

Start with all ingredients at room temperature…or at least the eggs and oil. Process the eggs yolks in a food processor for 30 seconds, then add the mustard, lemon juice, whey, salt, and pepper and process again for another minute or two, until slightly thickened.* With the processor running, slowly add oil in a very thin stream–practically drop-by-drop at first. You can begin pouring the oil a little more quickly after adding about half of it, though I just add all the oil via the pusher. Once you have added all the oil, taste the mayonnaise, you may want to add a little more lemon, mustard, or salt. Let sit out at room temperature for 7-8 hours, then refrigerate. Keeps for about four weeks.

* You can of course do this by hand, using a whisk, or, if you have a helpful assistant, an egg beater. It’s a good shoulder work out, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This is my Real Food Wednesday post. Please have a look at what other Real Food bloggers have to say today.

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About Chris

I am a personal chef and cooking instructor with a deep and personal interest in healing with whole foods. I started Lost Arts Kitchen so I could share what I have learned about preparing real food on a real budget while living a real life.
This entry was posted in DIY food, gluten free, lactofermentation, local food. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Best Mayonnaise…

  1. d.a. says:

    >Sounds wonderful! Will try it out!

  2. plantgirl says:

    >This looks fabulous…I passed it on to my husband who is the mayo guy in the house.I got even more excited about your own chicken feed. I've always wanted to make my own but didn't know how to get around using soybean meal as the protein bits. It looks like you have a nice combo in your mix….would you mind terribly sharing your recipe with me? I would love to start making my own and think my chickens would be even more grateful.Thank you so much!Jenp.s. I really enjoy your blog and what you've got going on up there in Portland….very inspiring!

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  4. Tracee says:

    Wow, thanks for posting. I love homemade mayo but it dose’nt keep long. So I love that this will keep ponger and has the health benefits. I have yet to try this but have heard macadamia oil is great in mayo.

  5. Erin says:

    How do you know if your safflower oil, or whatever “neutral” oil you choose is not highly processed. I’m afraid of all veg. oils right now except olive and coconut, because I don’t know how to choose a good one. Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Erin–

      I use an expeller (not chemical) expressed sunflower oil, which I buy in quantities we’ll use up within a couple months, store in a cool, dark cupboard, and only use for making mayo. With all the fats and meat from pastured animals and the CLO that we use everyday plus the grain-free/minimal grain diet my family follows, I don’t see the cup or so of sunflower oil in combination with the bright orange yolks from our backyard eggs and spread out over a month between four people as problematic.

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  7. Lauren says:

    I’m with Erin – I’m hearing more about sunflower oil lately but am still not sure if it’s in the same ‘wrong end of the omega scale and rancid from the get-go’ category as the other seed oils I’ve given up.

  8. Christina says:

    Macadamia nut oil is definitely the way to go if you want to avoid the other vegetable oils. I follow a Primal lifestyle and so I use the mac oil. Adding the whey to mayonnaise is GENIUS I have to say. What a fantastic idea: adds nutrition and probiotics but also helps the mayo keep longer. Wonderful!

    I adore your website btw.

  9. Sarah Bosse says:

    I’m SCD dairy-free. Can I use the Yogourmet yogurt starter to ferment the mayo here in place of whey? Or what about a GI Prohealth Scdophilus probiotic capsule? Thanks for your recipe and any advice!

    Gutsy Girl

    http://naturallygutsy.com

    • Chris says:

      Hi Sarah–I’ve been using the brine from my lactofermented lemons and pickles in place of whey lately (because I’m not making cheese these days and the brine is easier to obtain than whey from yogurt), but I haven’t tried using other starters or probiotic cultures myself. I think they would work…I would encourage cautious experimentation.

      • Sarah Bosse says:

        What is brine? I thought that was like the “teeth” in whales or something? Sorry, just have a lot to learn I fear.

  10. suzanne says:

    just worked up a sweat making the mayo. this is the first recipe for mayo i have made that has come up this thick. sad for me that my safflower oil had expired last year and it tasted like it. :(
    super excited to try it again. but with new oil. ;)

    • Chris says:

      Yes! Get some fresh sunflower oil and olive oil. I recently tried replacing half the olive oil with sesame oil and did not like the taste at all.

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