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How To Make Mayonnaise
Mayonnaise is what's called an emulsion, which is a fancy way of saying that we're able to make the yolk of a single large egg yolk hold up to a full cup of oil. Magic? Well, yes — culinary magic.
The trick is to add the oil VERY slowly at first, while constantly whisking the yolk. Add the oil too fast and your emulsion will break. In this demo, we're making a one-egg mayonnaise, which is a bit tricky because it means adding the oil a drop at a time at first. You, on the other hand,... should start off with three egg yolks. More egg yolks make the emulsion more stable, and you'll have much more margin for error.
Use this recipe for Basic Homemade Mayonnaise. You'll end up with about 2 1/2 cups of mayonnaise.
You'll need to separate the yolks from the whites. Here's a tutorial on how to separate an egg.
Another detail: plan on getting a good workout with whatever arm is going to be doing the whisking!Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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Whisk the Egg Yolks With Vinegar or Lemon Juice
First, whisk your egg yolks in a glass bowl until they're smooth and creamy. A stainless steel bowl is fine, too, but avoid aluminum or copper — the acid in the vinegar and lemon juice will react with those metals and give the mayonnaise a metallic flavor.
After you've whisked the yolks, add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice. The acid helps stabilize the emulsion by allowing the egg yolks to absorb more fat, which means it's that much easier to make the mayonnaise.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
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Add a Few Drops of Oil While Whisking Like Mad
Next, it's time to start adding the oil. At this point, you want to add a very small amount of oil — just a few drops and whisk as hard as you can. When you see that the oil has been absorbed, you can add a bit more. And seriously, whisk as fast as you can.
Speaking of oil, a plain vegetable oil is fine, or for different flavors of mayonnaise, you could use other oils, like walnut oil, avocado oil or olive oil. Mayonnaise made with olive oil is called aioli.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Keep Whisking While Slowly Adding Oil
Continue slowly drizzling in the oil at this point. Notice how the yolk is thickening and turning a bit creamy. That means the emulsion is starting to form. It's not mayonnaise yet, but it's getting there.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Keep Whisking While Adding Oil
At this stage, the emulsion is beginning to start building up, so you can add the oil a bit more quickly. But not too quickly. Just little dribs and drabs at a time.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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It's Starting To Look Like Mayonnaise Now
As you can see, we're adding the oil a lot faster now. And what you're whisking is looking less like an egg yolk and more like mayonnaise.
You can add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar at this stage to moisten things up a bit. Besides stabilizing the emulsion, the lemon juice or vinegar gives your mayonnaise a nice tangy flavor.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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How's Your Arm Feeling?
When you're making mayonnaise, you know you're doing it right if your arm feels like it's going to fall off. If you're sure you can't possibly keep whisking for another second, you're definitely on the right track. If your arm feels fine, your emulsion has probably broken already.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Can You Believe This Is Just One Egg Yolk?
Remember, don't try to add more than a cup (8 fluid ounces) of oil for a single egg yolk. Trying to add more than that will break your emulsion, no matter how slowly you drip it in. If you followed my instructions, you're using three egg yolks for two cups of oil, so you should have nothing to worry about.
You could also make mayonnaise with whole eggs rather than just the yolks. But it's the yolks that absorb the oil, so the ratio of yolks to cups of oil would still be the same.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Voila! You Just Made Your Own Mayo!
Congratulations! Adjust the flavoring with lemon juice and Kosher salt and maybe a dash of cayenne pepper or Tabasco, and you're all done.
Mayonnaise made this way will keep for about a week in the fridge. It really is fantastically liberating to be able to whip up your own mayonnaise. Never again will you have to give up making that sandwich because you're out of mayo. All you need are eggs, oil, and vinegar. (And arm strength.)Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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You Could Always Use One of These Next Time
And if you need to make a larger amount of mayonnaise, a stand mixer is a great tool for doing it. But if all you're making is a cup of mayonnaise, it's probably simpler to just do it by hand like we just did.