Fresh lemon and salt are two of the four simple ingredients required to make homemade mayonnaise.
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Homemade mayo, which is an emulsion of egg yolks, oil and an acid, is wonderfully rich and delicious, containing a few healthful ingredients and no preservatives. Just as with fries, we think it’s OK to enjoy this rich food once in a while if you’re making it yourself from real, whole ingredients. If you start with citrus and oil from conscientious producers, plus fresh eggs from well-tended hens raised on a natural, pasture-based diet, you’d better believe your homemade mayonnaise will contain vital, health-promoting fats, plus more essential vitamins and minerals than the conventional stuff. It’s easy to adapt this recipe to suit your preferences or to complement a specific recipe while also bumping up the flavor and nutrition — just add fresh seasonings.
A note about safety: Mayonnaise is made with raw egg yolks, so it carries the risk of salmonella. It should be made with ingredients that begin at room temperature. Any recipe that calls for raw eggs at room temperature should be a signal to exercise caution. Pastured eggs from a source you trust should be safe, and, according to food science expert Harold McGee, both vinegar and olive oil kill bacteria. You should always use common sense and fresh, quality ingredients, and promptly refrigerate extra mayo. This recipe only makes about 3/4 cup of mayo, but use any leftovers within a few days.
1 fresh egg yolk from a pastured hen
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup olive oil, milder-flavored oil, or a blend of oils
3 tsp lemon juice and/or vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
Fresh herbs, chopped garlic, hot sauce and/or white pepper, to taste (optional)
To begin making the emulsion, whisk or process (in a blender or food processor) the salt and about a tablespoon of the oil into the egg yolk. When the emulsion begins to stiffen, add all of the remaining ingredients except the remaining oil. Then begin adding oil, at first a drop at a time, then a teaspoon at a time, whisking or processing constantly, in order to thin the stiff emulsion to a creamy consistency. Homemade mayo is more luscious than store-bought versions that contain stabilizers, but it will also tend to separate, or “break,” in the refrigerator. If necessary, re-emulsify the mayo by stirring in a few droplets of water until it’s nice and creamy again.
Want fries with that? Try a healthier version than what the fast food chains offer in Homemade, Better-Than-French Fries.