Unlike ketchup or mustard, which don’t tend to evoke much passion, mayonnaise is a controversial condiment, one that often polarizes people into “love it!” and “hate it!” categories. More often than not, those who “love it!” have something in common: they’ve ditched the sticky, colorless mess of high fructose corn syrup/sugar/soybean/canola oil that is store-bought mayo and have started making their own. The lovely pale yellow color, silky, creamy texture and delicate eggy flavor of homemade mayonnaise bears such little resemblance to the store-bought stuff, it’s a shame the two products have to share the same name.
Even if you make Primal mayo at home all the time and don’t think we could possibly have anything new to say about mayonnaise, keep reading. We’ve got some tricks and tweaks to enhance the process and make you love mayonnaise even more. If you’ve been meaning to try homemade mayonnaise but haven’t gotten around to it, now’s the time. It’s much easier than you think and once you get the basic process down you can change the flavor slightly (add more lemon or mustard if you like) or dramatically (bacon mayo, anyone?)
Different Oils, Different Flavors
The difference between Primal mayo and classic homemade mayonnaise is the absence of canola oil. While olive oil is vastly superior in every way to canola, canola does have one advantage when it comes to making mayonnaise: complete lack of flavor. Tasting the flavor of olive oil in mayonnaise isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can give the mayonnaise a slightly herbaceous and bitter flavor. Olive oil also keeps mayo from tasting like it’s store-bought, but if mimicking store-bought mayo is your goal, we’ve got news for you: even homemade mayo with canola oil doesn’t taste anything like the goop at the store. Jarred mayo isn’t “real” mayo and it definitely isn’t made with healthy ingredients, so the sooner you stop using it as your benchmark for flavor, the happier you’ll be with the mayo you make at home.
If the olive oil flavor really gets to you, there are some solutions, although many involve a compromise of sorts. You can use light olive oil, since it has virtually no flavor, but it also tends to have fewer healthy monounsaturated fats. You can use avocado oil or nut oils for a different but mild flavor, however, both oils are higher priced and can turn mayo into a luxury item instead of a staple. You can use half melted coconut oil and half olive oil, but the mayo will taste like coconut – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s not right for every dish. You can also delve into the world of animal fat mayo, which is almost obscene in its richness and meatiness – great stuff, but maybe not for every day of the week.
Personally, we like using extra virgin olive oil in our mayo for the health benefits. We’ve found that when we want to mellow the flavor and get rid of any bitterness, stirring in a little bit of ghee adds a buttery flavor that we love. The texture is incredibly rich, with one caveat – the ghee will solidify a bit when refrigerated and makes the mayo thicker. If you vigorously stir before using, the texture will become creamy again.
If you don’t add the ghee, this recipe is a basic, fool-proof mayonnaise recipe and a great place to start before experimenting. Once you start experimenting, the sky is the limit. You can pretty much add any new flavor that you want. Consider stirring in bold flavors once the mayo is made, like fresh garlic, jalapeno pepper, pesto, spices or fresh herbs. Not only do these ingredients make mayo more interesting, they’ll also tone down the olive oil flavor.
Homemade Ghee Mayo
- Makes about 3/4 cup
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard (or dried mustard powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Approximately 5 tablespoons of ghee, at room temperature
In a food processor, blend the yolks, lemon juice, mustard and salt for a few seconds until combined. With the food processor running, gradually add oil in a slow steady stream until the mixture begins to thicken, at least 30 seconds.
When the mixture has thickened into mayonnaise, scrape it out of the food processor into a bowl and stir in ghee, one tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go until desired flavor is reached.
Using and Storing What You Make
Store-bought mayo has enough junk in it to keep it “fresh” longer than any food has a right to stick around in the refrigerator. Homemade mayo is more delicate because it’s made with fresh, raw egg yolks and should be used within 4-5 days of being made. Some folks ferment their mayo by adding a little bit of whey and swear it stays fresh for weeks. We haven’t tried this route yet because we don’t mind making fresh batches of mayo often. With a food processor, it’s incredibly easy to whip up. We do mind, however, letting mayo go to waste. To avoid throwing expired mayo out, the most obvious solution is to make small batches. Our recipe above makes less than a cup of mayo, which is easy to go through quickly. How? Glad you asked!
Like most of you, we use mayonnaise as a dip for veggies, seafood and meat, a dressing for coleslaw and salads… you know, the obvious stuff. We add pickles, capers, more lemon juice and hot sauce to make tartar sauce. We also spread a few tablespoons of mayonnaise on fish before we cook it, which keeps the fish tender and gives it a melt-in-your mouth texture. You can try this with chicken breasts, too.
Mayonnaise is also one of our favorite ways to improve the flavor of cooked veggies. Our best version of this just might be roasted asparagus with ghee mayo. If you’ve never licked your fingers (and plate) after eating asparagus, you will after trying this:
Roasted Asparagus with Ghee Mayo
- 1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed
- 1/3 cup ghee mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mustard
Mix together mayo and mustard. Use your hands to lather it all over the asparagus. In a pan on a middle rack, broil on high for about 15 minutes, turning regularly so all sides cook and asparagus is tender and blistered. Finish with lemon and black pepper if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Minimizing the Risk of Raw Eggs
As we mentioned before, the reason homemade mayonnaise has a short shelf life is because it’s made with raw eggs. The main risk raw eggs pose is salmonella, although this risk is quite small. Use the freshest eggs possible and if you’re still worried, try a mayo recipe that involves heating the eggs.
Even with the small risk posed by raw eggs, homemade mayonnaise is something we eat regularly and always like to have on hand. How ‘bout about you? What is your favorite way to make basic mayonnaise more interesting? Now that you know how many delicious uses there are for mayonnaise, “condiment” seems a bit limiting, doesn’t it? “Heavenly Homemade Spread” may be a bit over the top, but not by much. Thanks for reading!