Making mayo at home is one of those things that many people shy away from because they think it’s too difficult and it will separate or they think it isn’t safe to consume because it’s made with raw eggs. These are valid concerns. However, homemade mayonnaise can be easy and safe to make if you follow a few simple tips.
How to Safely Make Homemade Mayo
Let’s start with the food safety issue since it’s such an important topic. Because of the risk of Salmonella being present in raw eggs, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends using pasteurized eggs when making homemade mayo, and they claim that you can’t pasteurize eggs at home, therefore, you must purchase them from the grocery store. If you are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella infections (e.g., children, senior citizens, pregnant), then purchasing commercially made mayo or using pasteurized eggs to make your own homemade mayonnaise may be the safer options.
That being said, one of the most reputable recipe magazines in the country, Cook’s Illustrated, says that you CAN pasteurize the egg for mayonnaise at home by slowly microwaving it with water and lemon juice until it reaches a temperature between 160 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because we have an abundance of fresh duck eggs, the last thing I want to do is buy eggs from the store. So, for the recipe I developed that I’ll share with you below, I’ve incorporated the suggestion for home pasteurization from Cook’s Illustrated.
I am personally comfortable with the Cook’s Illustrated process because it jives with the temperatures and holding times that egg processing plants are required to adhere to by law. But, if you are more comfortable following USDA guidance, please do use pasteurized eggs and skip the microwaving part of the recipe. The only ingredient you won’t need is the water. You’ll continue to use the lemon juice that’s called for in the recipe.
Keeping Homemade Mayo From Separating
Now, to address the fear of ending up with oily, “broken” mayo. The truth is – it can happen. In making mayonnaise, you are attempting to combine substances that don’t want to stay together. Oil and water (and other liquids) don’t mix, right? We all know that. The egg yolk in mayo actually plays a crucial role in holding it all together, as it contains an emulsifier. When the oil is broken down into tiny particles (by whisking vigorously or blending), the emulsifier surrounds the particles of oil and keeps them suspended in the surrounding liquid. The key to making homemade mayo is to slowly add the oil – and I mean really slowly (tablespoons at a time at the beginning). In addition, while it’s possible to whisk briskly enough to make mayonnaise, it’s far easier to use an electric food processor or an immersion blender to ensure a stable emulsion. Save your arm – use an immersion blender.
Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe for the Homestead
Now that we’ve addressed the two biggest fears about making mayo at home, let’s get down to it. There are plenty of recipes online for homemade mayo that have special spices and such, but the main ingredients you’ll need are egg yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, and oil. You can make mayonnaise with just these three items, but most people also add a little salt and sugar and sometimes dry mustard or wet mustard. For instance, the Cook’s Illustrated recipe calls for Dijon mustard.
The recipe I developed for my own use here on the homestead includes dry mustard, salt, and sugar. And, again, it uses the pasteurization process that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated. If you’re choosing to use store-bought pasteurized eggs, simply eliminate the water and skip the microwaving part.
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- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons (T) of water
- 4 teaspoons (t) of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (t) of white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (t) of dry mustard
- 1-1/2 cups of vegetable, olive, or avocado oil
Keep in mind, the oil you choose to use in this recipe will change the flavor a bit, as some oils, like avocado, have a distinct taste. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
- Whisk the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of water and 4 teaspoons of lemon juice.
- Heat the egg mixture in the microwave until it reaches a temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. I would suggest starting with 30 seconds in the microwave, then heating the mixture further in 10-second intervals, stirring each time, until you’ve reached the ideal temperature. The egg mixture will be slightly thickened. Be sure to use a food thermometer with a display that’s easy to read quickly, such as one with a digital readout, because the temperature will start to drop fairly rapidly.
- Add the salt, sugar, and dry mustard to the egg mixture.
- Drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil into the egg mixture and begin emulsifying with an immersion blender. Continue adding oil and emulsifying gradually.
- Once all of the oil is incorporated, the mayo is ready. You can enjoy it immediately (though you may want to cool it because it will still be slightly warm from the pasteurization), use it to make a salad dressing, or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Have You Tried This Recipe for Homemade Mayo?
If you’ve tried my recipe for homemade mayo, let me know what you think of it in the comments section. If you’ve made modifications that make it even better, I’d love to hear about them.