Have you ever looked at the ingredients for mayonnaise?
It contains things like oil and vinegar–two liquids that never get along. And yet, some how in your jar of white gloopity-glop, they’ve come together in peace. All for the sake of your sandwich. Maybe that’s why they call it Miracle Whip? Well, this little miracle is called an emulsion.
What’s an emulsion?
An emulsion is a mixture of teeny-tiny particles that are disseminated in another material, but do not separate out of that material. Basically, two liquids that don’t usually mix are dispersed throughout each other.
How does this happen?
An emulsion occurs when one ingredient is slowly added to another ingredient and both of those ingredients are being mixed up simultaneously. Small particles of one liquid are spread through the other liquid. Then, an ingredient called an emulsifier is added to keep those particles from separating. The emulsifier is attracted to both oil and water, so it acts as a binder.
Ok, so what about mayonnaise?
Well, mayonnaise is an emulsion! To make an emulsion, you need three key players–1. vinegar/acid 2. oil and 3. egg. Vinegar and Oil never stay friends for long. When they get together, they always end up separating. But then good ol’ egg comes in. Egg is Switzerland. It’s a peace treaty. It’s going to let vinegar and oil make amends and everybody can then get along for good. Egg yolk contains lecithin, which is a phospholipid that on one end is attracted to vinegar and on the other end of the molecule, is attracted to oil. When the ingredients are incorporated very S-L-O-W-L-Y (because in all good peace talks, patience is prudent), over time they come together into a beautiful, creamy mixture.
Sometimes peace talks fail.
Ok, it’s true. I wish it weren’t so, but peace talks aren’t always successful–and emulsions aren’t either. If the oil is added too quickly, the end result could look like the picture on the left. The mixture will be smooth and liquids will be dispersed, but not fully. It’s not a total wash though! I’ve had a few failed emulsions and still used the mixture as a dressing for dishes like my Broccoli Salad (that I’ll share soon…oh it’s so good!).
If the emulsion is broken–that is, if it did come together and then later falls apart–then you can try whipping it up again with another egg yolk.
So, let’s have a go at it, shall we?
adapted from Mommypotamus
makes about 1 cup
3 egg yolks from*
1 Tbsp. lemon juice**
1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
2 tsp. raw honey or Grade B maple syrup
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup olive oil
*room temperature eggs work best
**lemon juice is an acid that can be used in place of vinegar–it gives it a brighter taste in my opinion
In a food processor or blender, blend the egg yolks for about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and blend for another 30 seconds. Then add the sea salt, sweetener, and mustard and pulse to combine.
Turn on the food processor and slowly pour the oil into the egg mixture. When you pour the oil, the oil stream should be very thin–like you are pouring the tiniest amount of oil at a time, while still actually pouring oil. The oil pouring process takes 3-4 minutes, so don’t feel like you have to rush. The key to successful, creamy mayonnaise is patience here.
How long does it last?
Once the mayonnaise is made, store it in the fridge. In terms of how long it lasts, most say two weeks. Funny thing is, I always eat it up before then! It’s so easy to make, I just whip up another batch!
What about you? Do you make homemade mayonnaise? Do you ever add any herbs like dill or chives? On what foods do you like to use mayonnaise?
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