Why make your own mayonnaise?

making your own real mayonnaise


2 egg yolks
level tsp salt (preferably sea salt)
pinch of finely ground black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of a lemon
tbsp red wine vinegar
250ml rapeseed (vegetable) oil


I approached this somewhat cockily last week, having achieved the desired result on my first attempt last year – a sauce basically comprising eggs yolks and oil doesn’t seem that hard to create and yet somehow, with Brenda as my assistant this time, it did not come together easily. It doesn’t surprise me, she’s a quite useless assistant.

Whether it was our blend of female hormones and barely concealed aggression I can only guess, but I did take the opportunity to do a bit of background – and to keep things as brief as possible, I will provide the following pointers

1) the whole process seems to work best at room temperature. You don’t need to keep eggs in the fridge, but if you do store yours there, then take them out at least half an hour before.

2) much advice is given about the right oil to use but generally olive oil will be too strong (especially extra virgin). Frankly, we’ve had some pretty rancid “up-market” oils (probably because at the price charged, people had wisely avoided it and so it was hanging around on the shelves for ages) and I got an excellent result using the cheapest (and possibly therefore the freshest) rapeseed oil I could find – you know, that come in those 5 litre drums from the supermarket! Obviously you don’t have to use it all making mayonnaise, you can also deep fry with it (Brenda, did I really have to explain that?!)

3) whisk the egg first for 2-3 minutes until going pale. Although I can be a bit of a stickler for using a hand beater for certain things, this is not one of them – so do use an electric whisk. Then add the salt to your egg yolks, whisk in for half a minute or so and then add the oil pretty much a tsp at a time for the first half minute, whisking all the time and then gradually allowing the dribble to develop to more of a trickle as your patience wears thin, albeit that your mayonnaise is thickening in the meantime.

making your own real mayonnaise

4) once your mayo is thick and nearly white, you can just go right ahead and add the mustard, vinegar and lemon juice at the same time – perhaps a little less of the vinegar/lemon juice if you want to keep the original nice thick consistency (or one or the other only, rather than both depending on how you like it and what you’re going to use it for)

5) taste and season with pepper at this stage, assuming everything has gone to plan. I prefer black pepper and mostly avoid the speckles by grinding it finely although in any case, I think the speckles make it look at the very least, home made (in a good way!), bordering on artisanal. You can use white pepper for the mass-produced look….. although I admit to using shop bought mayo as my guide to saltiness as that happens to be a level I like – about 1.5% salt in the finished thing, if you’re interested.

6) whatever any recipe tells you, is not absolutely guaranteed because, like so many things, practise and “getting the feel for it” is as important as the ingredients and basic process. I actually had three goes and, by the way, instead of using oil for my final batch, I used the horrible oily curdles instead. Whether it was down to the oil therefore being enriched with extra egg yolk, whether it was because I used better (for which read more expensive) eggs, or whether I’d just got the knack of it by then – who can tell? But evidently what starts out looking unpromising, can be salvaged – so dont throw your attempts away – recycle them! I think the key point in this was the whisking of the yolks first for a few minutes before starting to add the oil.

7) mayo forms the base of many delicious sauces such as Marie Rose and tartare sauce – as well as, of course, being delicious added unchanged to many otherwise somewhat ordinary foods – like lettuce. So do keep the fruits of your labours in a nice clean jar for future use, although, given it contains raw egg yolk, you might not want to keep it too much longer than a week but just do the sniff text like Brenda and I do all the time – if it smells alright, it’s probably good to eat!!!

making your own real mayonnaise

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