Thursday, March 17, 2011

Foods I Don't Like, Part I

There are not a whole lot of foods out there that I don't like.

Beets. Melon (water, musk, cantelope - the whole clan). Waffles. Yams/Sweet Potatos/Squash (zucchini being the exception - yummm!). Whipped Cream. Ketsup (unless mixed with a wholelotta horseradish).

And Mayonnaise.

Which might lead you to ask why in the world I decided today to try to make mayonnaise from scratch. To be quite honest, for quite a while today, I thought I was nuts to do so too.

But here's my rationale: it's made of just a few ingredients, all of which I like individually. As a matter of fact, eggs and lemon are two of my favorites. And oil? I love olive oil, and others that are recommended for mayo are pretty neutral tasting. How could I not like mayonnaise? It must be something in the commercial version that my oh-so-sensitive taste buds disapprove of.

In addition to the idea that I could make it somehow taste better, there's always the "I can do it myself" appeal that I find hard to resist. I also found encouragement in what other respected foodies and food resources had to say about it:
  • "You will have taken a tasteless fluid oil and transformed it into an ethereal sauce through craftsmanship and care.[...] It's magical stuff." -- Michael Ruhlman
  • "You can make mayonnaise by hand, but it is much easier and more fail-safe in the food processor."
    -- Gluten Free Girl
  • "Making mayonnaise in a food procesor or blender is quick and practically foolproof."
    -- The Joy of Cooking
  • "[...] it's really not difficult at all. And when you get it right - which is likely to happen on your first try - you'll have a sauce that's a zillion times better than anything you'll ever eat out of a jar."
    -- Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything
Not only did it sound like I could have this whipped out in five minutes, but if ever there was going to be a mayo that I could like, this would be it, right?

See that pile of dishes up there? I spared you the picture of when they were dirty. Yes, it's both  my food processors and my blender.

That I had to wash.

After three, count them, three, failed attempts at making mayonnaise.

Four eggs, one whole lemon, nearly a cup of (what to me is) expensive olive oil, and a whole lot of cursing and scratching of my head later, and all I had to show for my time was that pile of dishes.

I followed all the directions. Eggs fresh and at room temperature. Check. Mine were quite literally still warm out of my chickens' bottoms. Salt. Lemon. Water. Food processor on. Drip drip dripping the oil in very slowly. Check.

And it stayed liquid.

I switched food processors, thinking maybe the blade wasn't the right size or speed. Or something.

And that batch stayed liquid.

I switched to my blender. It had worked great for the hollandaise (Until it separated, that is. Hhm. Maybe I should have taken that as a sign?).

That batch also never started to emulsify. 

I was done. I did all my greasy oily eggy dishes, cursed a few more times, and decided I didn't want mayonnaise from scratch anyway.

But wait! I couldn't let it beat me! I had to try one more time. With a whisk.

I waited until night and I could get Doug to lend me a hand with the initial slow pouring of the oil, and so he could relieve my forearm as needed.

And I'll be darned. It emulsified. Just like they said it would.

Here's what I ended up doing:

One egg yolk.
1/2 tsp table salt.
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice.
1 tsp water.
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil.
1/3 c grapeseed oil.
1/3 c vegetable oil.

With a bowl set on a wet cloth to hold it in place, whisked yolk, salt, lemon and water. Then started adding oil very slowly - drip by drip at first. Kept going until all oil was added. And that was it.

But you know what?

I still don't like mayonnaise.

Now I know.


  1. That's funny Wendy! Way to not give up. I'm sorry you still don't like it, but as you said, now you know. Great story.

  2. How did you eat your homemade mayo? Maybe you need to find the right "vehicle". I love garlicky mayo with artichokes or cold steamed asparagus. Mayo in potato salad or egg salad is also lovely. And the best use of mayo ever: on a summer BLT with drippy tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, and salty, crispy bacon. But maybe you shouldn't listen to me, because I love mayo on almost anything...


I'd love to get feedback from you on my posts - please feel free to leave a comment! [Blogger's comment feature is a little confusing. To leave a comment with just your name, select "Name/URL" in the "Comment as" box and fill in at least your name.]