When I decided to go paleo I had a mini panic attack because I thought mayonnaise would be a complete no-no. I mean, for me it’s like its own food group. But in reality, it’s very much Paleo friendly because it is essentially an egg yolk and oil emulsion with some mustard, vinegar and salt.
The problem with most mayonnaise brands you buy from a supermarket is the oil base used in the recipe. Unlike traditional French, olive oil based mayonnaise, most commercial varieties use less intense tasting oils like soybean or sunflower. The problem is those guys are high pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. They also have a tendency to oxidise and go rancid quickly. I have seen a couple of brands that use olive oil as a base but it’s safer, easier and probably cheaper to make your own.
“Make my own mayonnaise?”, I hear you say. YES!
It’s a little misconception that mayonnaise is hard to make. It’s a little bit like baking – as long as you get your measurements, temperatures and timing right, you should get pretty good results. I’ve tried a few different methods but after some research and testing, this traditional French mayonnaise by Julia Child is an absolute stunner.
Essentially, mayonnaise is an emulsion of water and fat. There are few quick guidelines for making a perfect mayonnaise:
1. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. If they aren’t, bring them to the right temperature by either warming the mixing bowl in hot water to take the chill out of egg yolks or heat the oil until tepid warm. I just sit everything on the kitchen bench for a couple of hours prior.
2. Beat egg yolks for a minute or two before adding the oil, they need to get thick, sticky and glossy first.
3. Add the oil very slowly, a droplet at a time, until the emulsion process begins and the mix turns into a heavy cream, after which you can pour the rest of the oil much quicker.
4. The maximum amount of oil one egg yolk can absorb is about 3/4 cups, after which the binding properties of the egg break down and the sauce starts to thin and curdle. The safest amount is 1/2 cup of oil per egg yolk so stick to that when starting out. The propriotions of ingredients look something like this: 2 egg yolks+1 cup fat (oil) + 2-3 tablespoons vinegar/lemon juice= about 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise. Then you can also add mustard, garlic powder, anchovies, capers, dill and so on.
The following recipe is by Julia Child and the directions are for a hand-beaten sauce (using a wire whisk). For electric beaters, use the large bowl and the speed that you would for whipping cream. Use a round-bottomed glass or stainless steel mixing bowl. Set it on a damp towel to keep it from slipping.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice (more drops as needed to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
- 1½ to 2 cups of olive oil, other oil or a mixture of each. If the oil is cold, heat it to tepid; and if you are a novice, use the minimum amount. Macadamia oil works really well and has a milder flavour.
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
- Warm the bowl in hot water; dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
- Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.
- The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough.
- You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.
- Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.
- After ⅓ to ½ cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.
- When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.
- Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste. If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.