I was completely out of mayonnaise. I had wanted to make a blue cheese dressing to go with some local spring spinach for my lunch. The dressing was 1/3 mayo and for a moment I gave up on eating the craved-for salad. Then I scolded myself for being so lazy. I could whip up a jar myself in minutes. Oh yeah…
Mayo is just one of those basics in American households, like ketchup. Also like ketchup, mayo can be one of the most toxic products you can buy in supermarkets. Loads of cheap and rancid artery-clogging vegetable oils, spiked with preservatives, and the “low-fat” versions often are saturated with yet more sugars.
If you are like me and look for better options, meaning oils that are actually beneficial, you may have tried searching the organic mayo section. So far I have been rather disappointed. The canola oil mayo is usually the closest to commercial mayo but I really don’t trust canola, organic or not. It still is refined and still is a vegetable oil. Grapeseed vegan mayo tasted rather bitter, and some of the other options were prohibitively expensive.
So what then?
If we go back maybe just two generations, to a slower, less store-dependant world, you could find our grand-mothers whisking, gradually emulsifying, fresh-pressed oils into raw, yes raw! egg yolk perhaps raised in their backyards. If they added mustard, it likely was homemade, perhaps lacto-fermented as well.
What we have today in the form of a fattening and frightening condiment, our grandmothers would have enjoyed with thoughtless gusto. After all, homemade mayonnaise can be luxuriously healthful with enzymes from the egg yolks and fresh oils. If you wish to increase the enzymatic benefits you could also add a tablespoon of whey and leave the mayo covered at room temperature for 7 hours before refrigerating. This would bring the “keeping” time from 2 weeks to several months.
1 1/2 cups expeller pressed sunflower oil, preferably organic and unrefined, or extra-virgin olive oil.
(Using the olive oil will make a stronger tasting mayo, which might suit some tastes or occasions. For the most part, I prefer the blander tasting oil. For this recipe I used 1/2 cup flaxseed and 1 cup sunflower oil.)
3 egg yolks
1 spoon Dijon (or other mustards works well)
2. Add mustard and whisk to combine.
3. With the mixer/food processor (Using a Vita-mix hasn’t worked for me, I think it tends to be too powerful, even on the lowest setting) on medium-low, add oil just in drops at first. The first 30 seconds are crucial. Be very patient. Pour the oil in slowly. Gradually increase to a tiny stream and keep pouring until the oil is gone.
(Your mayo should look thickened and hold soft peaks.)
4. Stop the mixer and squeeze the lemon into the mixture, sprinkle with salt to taste. Whisk briefly to incorporate.
As a final note, one time I ruined two batches of mayonnaise in a row by my impatience. I had 3 cups of “split” greasy-looking, eggy sauce and I hadn’t a clue what to do with it. I tried one more time, adding the oil v…er…y slowly. With relief it began to thicken. Once it had become solidly emulsified I added the 2 disaster batches bit by bit. It seemed to thicken up by magic and I had a resounding success. And lots of creamy mayonnaise.