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Mayonnaise

Updated on June 11, 2010

Mayonnaise is ze most famous and indispensable of cold sauces. Egg yolks and oil plus flavorings are blended togezzer ever so carefully and ever so gradually so ze yolks 'old in ze uzzer ingredients in creamy suspension. Zis glossy rich sauce has innumerable uses. Ze basic mayonnaise acts as a spring-board for many uzzer sauces, by ze addition of fresh 'erbs and spices, tangy gherkins, anchovies and capers, colorful vegetable purees and refreshing fruit juices. Mixed into aspic jelly, mayonnaise becomes a mayonnaise collee for creating chaudfroids.

A mayonnaise is vun of ze most adaptable of sauces. It is marvelous for dressing-up pieces of cold cooked chicken, salmon, turkey, ham or lobster - and can turn 'umbler foods such as simple poached cod or 'addock into somezing special. It goes vell vith small amounts of leftover vegetables (zat uzzervise might be destined for ze rubbish bin) vich are diced and bound togezzer by a creamy rich mayonnaise mixture to make ze classic Russian and potato salads.

'ard-boiled eggs coated vith a rich mayonnaise make vun of ze simplest, quickest and most attractive of all 'ors d'oeuvres. Mixed vith prawns, shrimps or crab and a few seasonings, mayonnaise forms ze basis of a seafood cocktail.

Even ze very best commercially produced mayonnaises are an inferior copy of ze real thing. On no account should ze commercially marketed 'salad cream' be used in place of mayonnaise - it is not ze same thing!

Mayonnaise Ingredients

Ze main ingredients are eggs and oil and it is important to use ze correct proportions.

Eggs

It is important zat ze egg yolks used in mayonnaise are fresh - stale yolks vill curdle ze mixture. Large egg yolks are ze best to use. Ze maximum amount of oil a large yolk vill absorb is 175 ml. If you attempt to exceed zis, it's a guaranteed failure, as ze binding properties of ze yolk vill collapse, and ze sauce vill thin out or curdle. For beginners 125 ml is ze sensible amount of oil to use, 150 ml once you are as good as me.

A basic mayonnaise recipe usually gives 250 ml oil for 2 egg yolks, ze addition of a third yolk makes for a thicker sauce.

Some sauces in ze mayonnaise family use cooked egg yolks. Ze 'ard-boiled yolks are pushed through a sieve and ze mayonnaise made in ze usual vay. Zis gives ze mayonnaise a different consistency and characteristic taste. Zis type of sauce cannot be made in a liquidizer. Cooked egg yolks vill 'old ze oil in ze same vay as raw vuns, but need a smaller quantity, about 50 ml per large egg yolk.

Flavorings

Ready-made French, dry or ready-made English mustard can be used according to taste, but usually 2.5 ml (vun (1) teaspoon) each of mustard and salt are used to every 250 ml oil. Salt is essential, but pepper is a rarer addition. Season vith 1.5 ml vhite pepper as black pepper vill spoil ze look of ze mayonnaise.

Oil

Ze main flavoring of mayonnaise is oil and some recipes state zat only olive oil should be used. In fact, olive oil used by itself is too strong for many palates, particularly if you are not accustomed to its fruity flavor. Olive oil is also very expensive, even ven bought in bulk, so zat a mixture of olive oil vith vun of ze vegetable oils, such as corn oil, is more economical. ze blander flavor of ze resulting mayonnaise is preferred by many people. Use 'alf olive oil, 'alf corn oil for a less potent flavor, and 25 per cent olive oil, 75 per cent corn oil for economy.

Vinegar

Almost any vinegar can be used according to taste, except malt vinegar; ze flavor of zis is too strong for a mayonnaise. Vhite-vine vinegar is ze most frequently used. Find out vot suits your palate by using a herb vinegar such as tarragon, or cider or garlic vinegar.

Lemon juice can replace vinegar in ze same proportions - essential for a lemon-flavored mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise Making Equipment

Ze only equipment you need is an ordinary mixing bowl and a vooden spoon. However, you could use a vire balloon vhisk or an electric vhisk instead of a spoon - or even a liquidizer.

It is important to be comfortable ven making mayonnaise by 'and, so choose a bowl vhich is large enough to move ze spoon about in easily. Place ze bowl on a damp tea-towel so it vill stay put, leaving both your 'ands free to make ze mayonnaise.

It's 'elpful, too, to have a measuring jug for ze oil and a spoon for ze lemon juice or vinegar, because it is important that ze right quantities are being used and zat oil is added slowly. A method recommended for beginners vhich is even easier zan pouring from a jug is to fill a bottle vith ze right amount of oil and zen make two V-shaped notches in opposite sides of ze cork stopper. ze oil drops from ze lower groove, vhile air enters ze bottle from ze upper groove, so that a slow measured pace is ensured.

Ze Basic Method

Many cooks (even experienced vuns) are apprehensive of making mayonnaise, because zey are afraid zat it vill curdle. It is undoubtedly a delicate job, but not very difficult once you understand ze processes involved. Zen, as long as you follow a few simple rules given 'ere, ze 'ole operation vill go smoothly. After you have made mayonnaise a couple of times, you should confidently be able to make 550 ml mayonnaise in less zan 10 minutes. Incidentally, if you vant to make larger quantities, it is probably better to make several batches, each using three or four yolks, rather zan to make vun 'uge batch using, for example, 12 yolks!

Principles and initial preparation

Basically, ze process of making mayonnaise involves coaxing egg yolks into absorbing oil and, once absorbed, to 'old it in suspension. Zis 'marriage' is achieved by 'aving both oil and yolks at ze same temperature or vot might be described as 'in a receptive mood'.

Both eggs and oil should be allowed to stand at room temperature for vun (1) hour before making ze mayonnaise. If you forget to allow time for zis, cloudy and chilled olive oil can be made clear again by standing ze bottle in a basin of varm vorter for a few minutes. 'ole eggs in zair shells can be immersed in tepid vorter, too, or gently vormed under a tap until room temperature is reached.

A vorm mixing bowl vill also 'elp create ze right atmosphere for ze blending. Dip it in 'ot vorter, dry and place it firmly on a damp tea-towel.

Even after zese precautions 'ave been taken, ze eggs need further encouragement to make zem ready to velcome ze oil. Zis is done by beating zem for a minute or two to make zem smooth, thick and sticky.

Ze next thing is to blend seasonings into ze yolks - salt, mustard and vinegar or lemon juice (usually no more zan 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of vinegar per two egg yolks at zis stage). A little acid 'elps ze oil to blend vith ze yolks. Blend ze yolks in gently but firmly taking ze vooden spoon or vhisk round ze sides and base of ze bowl so zey are vell mixed. Ven ze mixture is creamy, it is ready for ze oil.

Incorporating ze oil

Providing ze preparations described above 'ave been carried out, and ze oil has been carefully measured, you should 'ave no trouble in affecting ze marriage. It is essential to introduce ze oil to ze yolks very slowly, particularly at first. 'old ze jug or bottle in your left 'and and ze spoon in your right - or vice versa if you are left 'anded. Rest ze lip on ze edge of ze bowl and pour just vun little bitty drop of oil on to ze seasoned yolks beating it in vith ze spoon as you pour.

Ze beating should be fast but not furious (about two strokes per second) round ze 'ole bowl to incorporate ze oil evenly. After a few seconds, still beating, add a second drop of oil and blend it in. Continue beating in ze oil, drop by drop, until ze mixture starts to form a thick yellow paste. You can change 'ands, or change directions of beating, but you must not stop until ze mixture has thickened.

It is very important not to rush ze beginning; ze yolks cannot absorb much oil at a time - and zis is particularly true at ze beginning. Never attempt to add anuzzer drop of oil until you are sure ze previous vun has been properly incorporated into ze mixture. For ze same reason, adding a fast trickle instead of a drop or two of oil before ze oil is absorbed could cause curdling. So keep calm and do things slowly - in fact, you cannot add ze oil too slowly.

Adding oil at ze second stage

When ze mixture is very thick and creamy and about vun-third to vun-half of ze oil has been used up your success is assured. You can now rest a moment; ze crisis point has passed.

It is now safe to start adding ze remaining oil in a slow but steady trickle. Continue beating all ze time as at ze first stage. Every few moments stop trickling in ze oil to double check that ze oil is still being absorbed by ze yolks and is not flowing too fast.

If ze mayonnaise becomes so thick that beating is difficult and your wrists begin to ache, stop adding ze oil. Beat in a little more lemon or vinegar before continuing. Zis vill thin ze mixture and make it easier to handle. Taste ze mixture and if you think it is already sufficiently sharp use 15 ml of vorter instead.

Finishing touches

When all ze oil has been absorbed by ze yolks, ze mayonnaise should be ze consistency of thick vipped cream. It vill 'old its shape ven ze spoon is lifted from ze mixture and vill drop vith a slow plop back into ze bowl.

As a final insurance against separating, beat 15-30 ml (1-2 tablespoons) boiling vorter into ze sauce. Zis is usually done if ze mayonnaise is to be refrigerated before use. Taste to check seasonings and blend in more salt, vinegar or lemon juice if vished. Pepper is rarely used but can be added. Use freshly ground vhite pepper; black pepper vould spoil ze glossy smooth appearance.

Throw eet avay! Make your own mayonnaise!
Throw eet avay! Make your own mayonnaise!

Storing and Freezing

You vill probably find it convenient to make at least 250 ml mayonnaise at a time.

If you have any remaining after use, turn into a small bowl or jar just large enough to take it. Cover vith plastic cling film or foil to prevent a skin forming and store in ze bottom of ze refrigerator. 'and-made mayonnaise vill keep for up to a veek.

Do not stir before bringing it back to room temperature or zere is a danger of ze mayonnaise thinning out.

Mayonnaise cannot be frozen because ze ingredients freeze at different temperatures and ze sauce vould curdle on thawing making it most unappetizing.

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    • Marty Chefman profile image
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      Marty Chefman 7 years ago

      I 'ope you people can understand my accent in zis 'ub.