Converting Eggs Into Mayonnaise
by Dennis Hawkins

When you have a surplus of eggs, it is handy to know a few kitchen tricks to use them to make practical things. The obvious things are eggnog, custard, and deviled eggs. One less obvious egg product is mayonnaise. The only problem with making mayonnaise is that if you don't know it's secret, you will always end up with a gooey mess rather than actual mayonnaise. The ingredients to mayonnaise are as follows:

4 Jumbo Egg Yolks (separate and discard the whites)
6 Teaspoons (Real Lemon Brand) Lemon Juice
3 cups soybean oil (sold as "vegetable" oil)
2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar or 1/2 packet of Splenda Brand (sucralose artificial sweetener)

If you threw all of these into a blender you would not get mayonnaise. You would get a slimy mess instead. This is because there is a trick to making real mayonnaise.

Before attempting to make mayonnaise, it is important to understand how mayonnaise works. To do that, a little background in food chemistry is needed. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of vegetable oil in lemon juice stabilized by the molecule lecithin, found in egg yolks. Mayonnaise does not taste all that oily even though most of it is oil. This is because every molecule of oil is surrounded by a microscopic amount of lemon juice. Thus, it is important to remember that mayonnaise is not a small amount of lemon juice blended into oil, but is instead, a large amount of oil blended into a tiny amount of lemon juice.

The key to making mayonnaise is to avoid having the components of the emulsion separate back into the components. In cooking, this is called breaking. No matter how much you mix the oil and lemon juice together, it will always separate (break) into a gooey mess unless you include the egg yolk as a stabilizer. The lecithin in the egg yolk acts like detergent in dissolving both the oil and the lemon juice components. This is what keeps mayonnaise fluffy.

Now that you understand the chemistry behind making mayonnaise, lets begin. First, separate the yolks from four jumbo eggs and place it in a quart jar with the lemon juice. The whites from the egg should be discarded. If you try to include them, the recipe will not work. The photo on the right shows this.

The ratio of lemon juice to the oil has to be exact so it is best to use measuring spoons and not guess. Note that in the ingredient list I specified to use a brand name lemon juice. You may be tempted to go out and grab a lemon off the tree, but you should know that natural lemons are not consistent in their concentration. As such, a natural lemon may be too strong or too weak. Store bought lemon juice is what this recipe requires.

The next thing to do is to mix the yolk and juice together using a high speed mixer with a wire wisp until the mixture is frothy. Since I didn't have a high speed mixer, I improvised by attaching a wire wisp to an electric drill. The speed of the drill needs to be set to medium to fast which is about perfect for making mayonnaise. When mixing, you need three hands if you use a hand drill. If you are doing this alone, a drill press fitted with a wire wisp is very handy. Ordinary electric mixer blades may not produce acceptable results. You may be tempted to use a blender, but if you do, you will get a mess instead of mayonnaise. Whatever type of mixer you use, it must mix the full column of mayonnaise at the same time (as in the case of a wire wisp). Most blenders have only a small impeller at the bottom so they wont work for making mayonnaise.

Let the egg yolk mixture sit for 3-5 minutes. There is always a danger in using raw eggs in any recipe, but letting this mixture sit for a few minutes allows the lemon juice to "pickle" any germs that might have been in the eggs. The risk of getting food poisoning from a raw egg is extremely low, but letting the lemon juice 'cook' it for a few minutes will make it even less of a risk.

Next, start the wisp spinning at maximum speed and S-L-O-W-L-Y dribble in the oil. Remember that you are mixing a large amount of oil into a very small amount of lemon juice. This takes a lot of time. You should not try to pour the oil in faster than about 1/2 teaspoonful per second. As you do this, it is very helpful to have a kitchen helper hold the quart jar for you or use a drill press if you are working alone. Once all the oil is in, blend a few seconds longer just to make sure any oil on the sides of the jar gets included in the emulsion.

Mix in the remaining ingredients. These are just for flavor and do not affect the mayonnaise consistency. Try not to be tempted to use real onions instead of onion powder. Doing so may cause the mayonnaise to break (turn to goo). You should not add any other liquid to the emulsion at this time. A lot of people make the mistake of adding the egg whites back in at this point, but this always results in a slimy goo rather than mayonnaise. It is really rather depressing to see this happen after you actually made the mayonnaise. When you are done, stop the drill and remove the wisp. The mayonnaise should be thick and able to stand up on its own. It should not be runny at all. You should be able to turn the jar on its side without the mayonnaise running out.

When you have completed, your mayonnaise should look like the mayonnaise in the photo to the left. If yours came out too runny, throw it out and try again. Unlike many other recipes, the recipe for mayonnaise must be followed to the letter. Good luck and remember to keep your mayonnaise refrigerated.

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