Mayonnaise 911

Fellow redditor tsulahmi sent me this message regarding his mayonnaise:

Yesterday I attempted to make the mayonnaise you had discussed on your AmA thread, unfortunately it was not a success. It never thickened while I was making it and was a yellow color much darker than any mayo I have ever seen. I was hoping it would thicken in the fridge, but alas, all of the ingredients separated (oil on top, spices on the bottom, misc in the middle). I whisked it for quite a while (it took about a 1/2 hour to make) and even used an electric egg beater at one point hoping it would speed up the process. All of the ingredients were at room temperature when i started except for the eggs which were a little cook and the lard was cold (it had come out of the freezer about an hour beforehand).

Chances are he didn’t do anything wrong. Making perfect mayonnaise takes time and skill, and a whole lot of patience. My first failed attempt at making mayonnaise is legendary (just ask my wife). It took me several attempts to get it just right. Also keep in mind that the weather can have a lot to do with how your mayonnaise turns out. If it’s a rainy, humid day, mayonnaise can be just as stubborn as your hair. You always want to make your mayonnaise in a cool, dry place if possible.

Here are some pointers:

• For maximum mayonnaise making success, always start with room temperature ingredients.
• Beat your egg yolks separately until they are thick and appear sticky. Your oil is more easily emulsified that way.
• Add your oil very slowly, just a few drops at a time, beating well between each addition to avoid overwhelming the yolk and curdling the mixture. When the mixture starts resembling thick cream, the oil can be more easily absorbed by the egg yolks.
• Do not exceed half a cup of oil per egg yolk, at least initially. The chances of ruining your mayo increases with higher proportions of oil versus water (egg yolks are half water), and who wants to risk such a failure when you are just starting out?
• If you plan on using an electric mixer to make mayonnaise, beat your egg yolks with salt and lemon juice on low until the mixture is thick and sticky. Gradually add your oil, beating continuously on medium speed.

One Comment

  1. Joe says:

    I heartily agree with point 5. Using an electric mixer will make this much much easier because you can focus on slowly adding the oil and not worry about the stirring.

    The egg yolks are the emulsifiers and mustard helps too. If you’ve having trouble, you might add another egg yolk, or half of one. Or add some of the mustard up front.

    But the key is adding the oil very very slowly. You can recover from a (very) little bit of curdling by just letting it mix for a while, but once real curdling has started you’re probably screwed.

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