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Mayonnaise and Aioli


Anna Blume
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Recently I decided to make mayonnaise for the first time in at least a decade. Worked so well and wasn't all that demanding despite my decision to whisk it by hand.

Therefore, I didn't replace the last squeeze-bottle of the store-bought kind, figuring I'd just make small, one-yolk batches when the mood strikes.

Well, it's time for tomato sandwiches. Last week, I got out the salt, lemon juice, powdered mustard, canola and olive oils, deciding to go easy on the latter for the sake of a more subtle flavor. Went through the same, exact procedure to emulsify the stuff, dripping in the oil very, very slowly.

Nothing came together, though I did see some thickening at first. I decided to start over with the mixture I had already made, adding it very slowly to a new yolk.

Failure again! I gave up and did without the mayo when the sacrifice of yet a third (expensive) yolk, this time in the blender, got me nowhere.

Before turning to the blender, I read a couple of online discussions which told me:

1) My first attempt at saving the runny batch was indeed the method and it usually works;

2) On very humid days, it's best not to make mayo;

3) Adding acid too early to the mixture might lead to poor results.

It was a pretty humid day which ended in quite a downpour. However, I am posting this to get other reactions, perspectives, etc.

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1) My first attempt at saving the runny batch was indeed the method and it usually works;

2) On very humid days, it's best not to make mayo;

3) Adding acid too early to the mixture might lead to poor results.

1) Yes, that is the correct method. 2) Unlikely. 3) Never found this to be the case.

Did you have enough water (i.e. lemon juice) in the bowl to start? Mayo will break due to insufficient water just as easily as it will break due to insufficient yolkage.

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Recently I decided to make mayonnaise for the first time in at least a decade. Worked so well and wasn't all that demanding despite my decision to whisk it by hand.

Therefore, I didn't replace the last squeeze-bottle of the store-bought kind, figuring I'd just make small, one-yolk batches when the mood strikes.

Well, it's time for tomato sandwiches. Last week, I got out the salt, lemon juice, powdered mustard, canola and olive oils, deciding to go easy on the latter for the sake of a more subtle flavor. Went through the same, exact procedure to emulsify the stuff, dripping in the oil very, very slowly.

Nothing came together, though I did see some thickening at first. I decided to start over with the mixture I had already made, adding it very slowly to a new yolk.

Failure again! I gave up and did without the mayo when the sacrifice of yet a third (expensive) yolk, this time in the blender, got me nowhere.

Before turning to the blender, I read a couple of online discussions which told me:

1) My first attempt at saving the runny batch was indeed the method and it usually works;

2) On very humid days, it's best not to make mayo;

3) Adding acid too early to the mixture might lead to poor results.

It was a pretty humid day which ended in quite a downpour. However, I am posting this to get other reactions, perspectives, etc.

This instructional video seems to support your theory re: humid days.

http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-make-mayonnaise

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I'm a fan of making mayo with an immersion blender. I've tried making it by hand but never got it to come out right. Probably my impatience. The immersion blender we have comes with a measuring cup that fits the blending attachment fairly closely that makes mixing things like mayo and such extremely easy. We didn't even have to worry about slowly drizzling in the oil, etc. as the blender completely emulsified it without worrying with it.

I think the key to using a blender, and why it may not have worked when you tried it, is having a bowl of appropriate size. Since the bowl of a typical counter blender is huge compared to the amount of mayo you make with one yolk, most of the sauce ends up spinning around the outside of the bowl and doesn't get proper blade-to-mixture time. Using a smaller bowl and an immersion blender takes care of this. That's my theory anyway.

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It was a pretty humid day which ended in quite a downpour. However, I am posting this to get other reactions, perspectives, etc.

I remember since forever that the old 70s-era Joy of Cooking (don't know about other editions) warned not to attempt mayonnaise during a thunderstorm or if a thunderstorm threatened, as the emulsion would not hold. I never understood why that would be, but I also never attempted mayonnaise in those conditions. It sounds like you were doing everything right (I assume you used an egg yolk in attempt number 1, although you don't mention it), so maybe there is science at work here. The only thing I would always do differently from your procedure is to use prepared Dijon mustard, not dry. Since you can beautifully emulsify vinegar or lemon juice, prepared mustard, and oil, with no egg yolk at all, I imagine using prepared rather than dry mustard makes mayonnaise-making easier. I've always done it that way, and I have, touch wood, never had a failure. Oh, and advice number 3 (about not adding acid too early) sounds like complete hooey.
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Alice W. would probably be horrified, but I always make mayo in the blender--been doing it that way since the early 1970's--I think I learned it from Joy of Cooking. I can only remember once or twice when it didn't emulsify, and I rescued it by whizzing another whole room temperature egg and adding the unemulsified mixture slowly to the blender jar with the motor running.

The blender method: make sure egg is room temperature. (It can be removed from the fridge and immersed in hot tap water for a few minutes to get it to the right temp.)

To blender jar, add whole egg, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 1 clove roasted garlic (optional), 1/2 cup oil of choice. Cover and whiz and then remove the small plastic plug from the lid, and with the motor running, begin adding oil in a thin drizzle down into the center of the whirling liquid. After it has thickened up a lot, add 2 T. of lemon juice or vinegar. (If the emulsion is already too thick to incorporate it, stop the motor and stir it in.) But the addition of the lemon juice often liquifies the emulsion a little bit--in which case, continue to add little drizzles of oil, until the emulsion will no longer incorporate any more oil with the motor running the whole time.

There is no absolute amount of oil to add to the initial 1/2 cup--it depends on the size of the egg. But it takes more than you imagine. Sometimes I use part olive oil and part grape-seed or other neutral-flavored oil, so that I get some of the wonderful olive-oil flavor, but it is not overwhelming.

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