“Mayonnaise is a food best made at home and almost never made at home. This has robbed us of something that is both healthy and an absolute joy to eat with gusto.” Tamar Adler

PeteNGerrys Eggs

My favorite chapter in Tamar Adler’s “An Everlasting Meal,” was, hands down, “How to Teach an Egg to Fly,” and before you click away because, this girl! she’s always talking about Tamar Adler!, please bear with me because, I promise, I’m going somewhere good. So this chapter two of Tamar’s book, the egg chapter, is 15 pages long and divided into six parts, each one dealing with a specific method in which to use an egg. She talks about boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried or scrambled, omelets, frittatas and, just when your mind is appropriately reeling, thinking of all the different things eggs can do, mayonnaise.

Here is the part that hooked me:

I keep my mayonnaise and aioli for two or three days in the refrigerator even though they contain raw eggs. I trust the freshness of my eggs, and the cleanliness of the lives of the hens that lay them. If your eggs don’t come from a source you know or if you are worried, make less and keep it for a shorter time.

egg yolks

Two things about those sentences: (1) She’s not afraid of raw eggs and (2) That’s because she’s so confident of the quality of her eggs.

Tim and I were talking the other day about how a lot of things on this site are subtle, not overt, like the fact that we drink raw milk from a farmer who lives about two hours away from us, whose farm we’ve visited and whose cows we’ve touched. Some of you have been following along here long enough to know the whys and hows of this decision, as well as the fact that we get our eggs from the same farmer and, the majority of our produce from a different organic farm down the road, but many of you probably don’t. That’s because, when push comes to shove, this site isn’t about where you buy your groceries or whether or not you support the consumption of raw milk (which, because we’re asked about this often, is not illegal, just not available in the store [at least in most states], and you can find a local provider in your area through realmilk.com) (also, while we’re on the subject, you can find more thorough info about raw milk here or here or here).

The point is, in our home, we sort of take it for granted that when we’re using milk, it’s the kind we pick up in a local parking lot on Monday afternoons; or that, when we’re whisking eggs, they’re the kind produced by happy, sun-seeing chickens raised on small farms. Whether or not you source your food from similar places is up to you; we’re just saying that this is what works for us.

So along those lines, that’s why, when the people at Pete & Gerry’s eggs* contacted us recently, suggesting we check out their heirloom eggs, we researched the way they treat their hens (keeping them in spacious, cage-free barns; feeding them grain free of antibiotics or hormones) and where (on small, low-overhead farms in New England) and felt comfortable with the process. Buying from a local farmer you trust is best, but when that’s not possible, companies like this one offer a strong alternative.

Whisking egg yolks

When you’ve got good eggs, you want to find a way to make them shine, so, for us, Tamar’s book still fresh in our minds, that meant making mayonnaise—and then turning the mayonnaise into garlic aioli. Do you like mayonnaise? Or, are you like me, and the mention of mayonnaise calls to mind gloppy, white, gelatinous mixtures well-meaning folks tried slopping on your sandwiches when you were a kid?

Either way, homemade mayonnaise is an entirely different experience.

Making aioli

First off, homemade mayonnaise tastes like the ingredients you’re using: eggs, olive oil, lemon, seasonings—not like an unidentifiable spread in an entirely different food group. Second, homemade mayonnaise is thick and beautifully yellow, in part from the tumeric we used but also from the brilliantly vibrant yolks from our heirloom eggs.

After it’s made, adding some smashed garlic paste and chopped parsley turns it into a rich and creamy aioli that’s perfect for dunking fries or, appropriately this time, spreading on a sandwich.

chopped parsley
aioli bowls

Making it is not for the faint of heart—there’s a lot, and I mean, a lot, of whisking involved (just ask Tim, bless him)—but the rewards are pretty fantastic: mayonnaise that tastes like mayonnaise should; garlic aioli that’s bright and fresh and luxurious.

roasted potatoes and aioli

And while next time we make it, I might go with coconut oil so I can speed things along in the food processor (see note in recipe below), I have to admit that watching a sauce like this come together, right before your eyes, is pretty empowering, as is learning where your food comes from or, doing a little research on something before you buy. Making your own mayonnaise, like meeting your own farmer, might not be necessary and might not be for everyone, but it’s working for us—adding pleasure and rich joy to the way we cook and, mostly, the way we eat.



*Oh, and also, while we’re talking about eggs, here’s an interesting article from “The Atlantic” worth checking out: “Sunny-Side Up: In Defense of Eggs”





Homemade Mayonnaise or Garlic Aioli
Adapted from the brilliant Tamar Adler
Makes enough for a crowd because, trust us, it’s rich and, a little goes a long way. We like it alongside roasted potatoes or fries.

Ingredients:
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon tumeric powder
1 1/2 to 2 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil (or coconut oil, if using a food processor)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon water
Big squeeze of lemon juice

For aioli: 2 cloves garlic, pounded with salt in a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board; as well as a few handfuls of chopped parsley

Directions:
I should start by saying get ready for a workout or, if you’re like me, find some strapping soul nearby (I first liked him for his arms), because this recipe takes a substantial amount of upper body strength. Reading that advice, you could take a different approach: avoid the rest of the instructions and just throw everything into a food processor. But if you do, use coconut oil because olive oil will turn bitter in the rapid blades.

OK, here we go:

If you don’t have a steady stone bowl with a hefty bottom (thanks, Salvation Army!), then dampen a dish towel and form it into a ring on your table or work surface. Place your bowl inside this ring in order to steady it while you whisk. Whisk egg yolks, salt and tumeric. Once the yolks are a uniform yellow (about five seconds in), add a drop of oil, then whisk, then another drop, whisk. What you’re after is adding the oil in such a way that the texture of the mixture stays thick (think mayonnaise) and not thin (think olive oil). Be patient with it.

If something goes wrong at this point:
If, like me, you get overzealous adding oil and your mixture becomes thin and soupy, set it aside. Get a new bowl. Whisk one yolk and slowly add your soupy mixture to it, being more careful this time. It will work! You’ll be amazed!

Once the mixture is getting really thick, hard(er) to whisk, add the 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of water and big squeeze of lemon juice. Keep whisking. You may want to swap with another person nearby. Then, whisk in the remaining oil. Taste for salt, but keep in mind it will take time to fully disperse—if you’re not serving immediately, taste for salt later. Bam: you have mayonnaise! Tamar Adler says it will keep for two or three days in the fridge like this.

To make it aioli like we did, add the smashed garlic paste, whisk, add parsley and voila!

*Pete & Gerry’s sent us some of their eggs to try, but all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn

    I’ve loathed mass produced mayo since I can remember. As you can imagine, this has made BBQs and picnics hard – lots of passing on the mac and potato salads. But, homemade mayo is a completely different story! One need only look at how yellow your mayo is to know that the stuff in the standard jar of white glop is not the same thing. And with the garlic? And the parsley? You won’t find me passing on that stuff at a BBQ.

  2. Jacqui

    I grew up eating mayo, then got turned off by it somewhere down the line and started ordering sandwiches and burgers without, but I’ve started getting more interested in it again since I saw this, and have been meaning to try a homemade version. My library just contacted me the other day to tell me Tamar Adler’s and Luisa’s books are ready for me to pick up!!! So it’ll be a nice, lazy weekend of reading, and maybe some homemade mayonnaise, too. Happy Friday, friend!

  3. Viki

    Finally a mayo recipe that doesn’t use mustard, I really like adding lemon juice to mayo so bright tasting. Thanks for posting this lovely recipe and I will be trying to make it with our own eggs on homemade sourdough bread with a glass of fresh raw goats milk- yummy.

  4. Lan | angry asian

    i finally ordered that book thru another library this morning. very much looking fwd to it.
    i’ve always been a fan of eggs (ok for that time in 6th grade when it grossed me out & all i ate was tomato sandwiches) and in fact, grew up with homemade mayo first before the convenience of store bought took over. we don’t keep mayo in the house but when the occasion calls for it, making it from our source of local eggs is wonderful.

    1. Shannalee

      That’s a great question, Sarah — thanks for asking! My guess would be that because it’s the fast blades that causes the olive oil to break down and become bitter, a stand mixer would cause the same problem. So for that reason, stick to hand whisking unless you can use a more stable oil.

      (Coconut oil is readily available now, online, at Whole Foods and at Trader Joe’s even. Oh and I hear Costco carries giant tubs of it, too!)

  5. Brianna

    You need a Weston Mayonnaise Maker, it makes it SO easy. My hubbies Grandma gave us one and I absolutely love it, even though Im usually not really into kitchen gadgets and tend to just stick to the basics. Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  6. Michelle

    I loved this chapter, too! It made me want to go make mayonnaise immediately. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m sure I will. I could use the workout. ;) You just can’t beat the real deal.

    Tamar writes everything so beautifully. I thought of her while roasting a heap of root vegetables last night.

  7. Kathryn

    You’re right, homemade mayonnaise is absolutely nothing like anything you can buy in the shops. A friend makes the most amazing aioli and every summer we have a big aioli party with poached chicken, fish, new potatoes, vegetables and whatever else we can find all covered in that gloriously garlicy sauce. This has taken me right back to those evenings.

  8. Kendra

    This is one of the first things we made from Tamar’s book, too. We grilled some pita bread, tons of local vegetables, and went. to. TOWN. That mess was so awesome.

    And I think another reason – at least for us – that we tend to source and eat the way you guys do is that our favorite meals are the simple ones. Sure, we dig a bunch of ingredients that come together in a synergistic plate, but our every day go-to meals have three or four ingredients. If that’s the case, those better be the best ingredients you can get your hands on. Pork shoulder slow-roasted with just salt and sugar. Potatoes mashed simply with butter. A green salad with a simple honey mustard dressing. When the pork, the potatoes, the lettuce, and the honey all come from people whose names I know, it makes the meal come to life. Not to mention it tastes ridiculous.

    You’re right. This way of doing food isn’t for everyone, but I sure am glad it’s for me.

  9. Shannalee

    @Kate and @Anya – Tim and I talked about the same thing. I would guess it’s just a matter of being extra safe (the 2-3 days bit was a direct quote from Tamar) but of course you can keep it for as long as it’s good and/or you feel comfortable.

  10. Clare

    Shanna, here’s another crazy thought: have you thought of fermenting your mayo? Homemade mayo (and similar egg sauces like hollandaise or aioli) are so, so, good, (I once had to buy a steel bowl just so I could make myself hollandaise from eggs I was caring for during my farm internship!) but adding a little whey and letting it sit out a few hours before putting it in the fridge opens up all new possibilities. I learned about it from that trusty source, Nourishing Traditions, and had a mason jar in the fridge for several weeks. However you prepare them, happy eggs are simply little miracles.

  11. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    I have missed reading your blog, Shanna! Coming home after traveling for a month is tough but reading your writing is one of the things making the process easier. Ah making homemade aioli is a wonderful thing I haven’t done in a while, inspired to do so now. And thanks for the references on raw milk, I’ve been wanting to do more research on this. Also intrigued by the cookbook. In short, as always, you are a wealth of ressources of all things good and delicious! Thank you so much!

  12. The Food Hound

    I love homemade mayo but it takes so long that I only make it when I’m using it as a dip where you’ll truly appreciate the flavor. I need to try making it in the blender, like my cheater hollandaise sauce! I need to add garlic next time I make it for roasted potatoes, YUMM!!!!

    1. Shannalee

      Helene, That’s a good question — the thing with coconut oil is it solidifies at anything under like 75 degrees, so in most of our kitchens, it’s solid when we pull it out of the cupboard. To use it in mayonnaise, I would lightly warm it to turn it to a liquid — again, it won’t take much since it only needs to get above 76. Then I’d use it as a liquid in the recipe. Does that make sense? Good luck!

  13. Kim

    Yes, yes, yes to all of this! I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at homemade mayo, myself (having only used it in tuna salads and deviled eggs, and occasionally as a light spread on a BLT). I think I’ve been convinced. Especially if I can round up a local urban chickenkeeper (is there an official name for one who keeps chickens?) – I’ve heard they’re around in Berkeley…now I’m on a mission!

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