Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Big Fat Greek Mayonnaise

I don't think that I have covered this as of yet, I think I hit on Aioli but not Mayonnaise itself. Let me start out by saying that I was blessed while growing up. My mother, who was always on the lookout for hidden sugar, use to make homemade mayonnaise all the time. I did not realize, at the time, how spoiled rotten I was. When I set out on my own, for I did not own a blender, I bought Mayonnaise for the first time... I found it to be a disgustingly sweet, but otherwise flavorless, greasy condiment, better suited for lubricating ball bearings than gracing my Sandwich or French fries.

If you look at the back of your favorite brands, you will find, hidden in the ingredient listing, either sugar, corn syrup or worse, High Fructose Corn Syrup. This is true of Hellmann's/Best Foods, Kraft, and Hollywood just to name a few. If you look at the light mayonnaise you will find that the "sugar" is higher on the list, because prepared foods that are low in fat tend to be higher in sugar.

This is not the only nutritional issue with store bought mayonnaise though. For a while now, certain fat types have been being touted as "healthy". Thus, most store mayonnaise is made from Soybean oil, Canola oil or a mixture of the two.  Recently there has been a movement to "Olive oil " mayonnaise. Again, if you read the label, you will see that these are merely blends and that Olive oil is the LAST one on the list, Soy and/or Canola being first. The problem with this is that Soy, Canola, and Sunflower (if used) are all high in polyunsaturated fats. I know "everyone" screams about unsaturated fats being SO good for you, but that is a seriously generalized statement of misinformation. In truth, it is the Mono-unsaturated fats are the desirable fat and, as a side note, not ALL saturated fats are bad.  However, I will save the saturated fat explanation for another post.

Getting back to Poly vs Mono. Lets start with unsaturated fat and what that actually means. Unsaturated fats tend to be liquids at room temperature, some are more viscous than others, but "liquid" or "flowing" none the less, as opposed to saturated fats, which are solid or almost solid at room temperature.   All fat molecules (really a triglyceride, but I am going to stick to the basics here) looks like a telephone pole with little spikes sticking out (usually what the repair man would use to climb up the pole)  In a fat molecule, each one of these spikes is capable of holding a hydrogen atom at the very end.  When a fat molecule is "saturated", all those spikes have hydrogen atoms stuck to them.  If the fat is mono-unsaturated, 1 of those spikes, and only 1, is missing an atom.  In a polyunsaturated fat, more than 1 of the spikes is missing a hydrogen atom.  When fats are synthetically hydrogenated, the fat is "bombarded" with hydrogen until some of them stick to the empty spikes and make the fat more solid (this is how Margarine and Vegetable Shortening are made).  This also causes some Trans-fat to form, versus the "normal" cis formation, but to explain that, I will have to have visual aids...

Polyunsaturated fats are a slippery slope.
All fats go rancid; whether from UV light, Bacteria (water must be present for this) or by Oxidation. What exactly IS oxidation....?  Think of it as rust.  Oxygen actually causes a chemical reaction with the oil. This is due to is UNsaturation.  Since polyunsaturated fats have more "holes", if you will, there are more "spots" for it to oxidize. Unlike rust, however, when a polyunsaturated fat oxidizes in the body, it's a little more violent. Think of it as more of a suicide bomber, taking out just about everything in close proximity, such as cell walls, whole blood cells, damaging DNA and RNA thus causing possible mutations (ie. Cancer).  This is called a redox reaction, like fire. To make matters worse, the oxidized fat is not destroyed in this process but is transformed into multiple damaging compounds that continue flowing through the body wreaking even more havoc.  Monounsaturated fats are also capable of this, however, since there is only 1 site where oxidation can take place, the chances are reduced significantly.

It's still a little bit of a crap shoot.  Free Radicals are everywhere at all times.  All I am saying is, why give them a larger "playground".  It must be noted, however, that not all polyunsaturated fats are bad... Omega 3 comes to mind.  Multiple studies have shown that omega-3's (cause there are multiple fats in this category) actually "clean up" some of this damage and can reduce the size of tumors that may or may not have been caused by other polyunsaturated fat damage. Go figure... Which is what makes nutrition so complicated.  Nothing is ever black and white. (just wait till I get around to pooling all my information on the much scorned saturated fats and the benefits of short and medium chained vs the damage of long chained)

What does all this nightmarish talk about suicide bombing fat molecules have to do with mayonnaise? When you make your own mayo, you have the ability to CHOOSE your oil. My 2 favorites happen to be Macadamia Nut oil (which is really expensive) and Olive oil (which is not quite so expensive). Both of which are unsaturated fats, however the bulk of their makeup is MONOunsaturated not poly. This makes me feel better about what I am putting in my body (cause I put so many BAD things in, that I have to change what I can, where I can, when I can), and lets face it, homemade mayonnaise with all olive oil has SO much more flavor. Just choose your favorite flavor of olive oil, cause no 2 olive oils taste the same. If you want a more neutral flavor, use "Light" or "Classic" olive oil instead of Extra Virgin. I like unfiltered olive oil sometimes for an extra PUNCH of flavor. Macadamia nut has a very mild flavor, but a slightly nutty aroma.

So now lets get completely off my big fat tangent and back to how mayonnaise is made.

What exactly IS mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise is an emulsion of fat in an acid. The acid being either vinegar or lemon juice. Egg is added because it contains things like lecithin which assist and stabilize the emulsion process. Mustard is usually added for this same reason. Oil is added slowly so that once the emulsion begins to form, it is not over loaded thus causing it to "break", like so much failed Hollandaise. Oh yes, they are related. Hollandaise is an emulsion of butter in the tiny minuscule amount of water that is contained in an egg yolk, with lemon added at the end.

So, what is an emulsion?
An emulsion is teeny tiny droplets of a substance suspended in another substance that would normally separate. In mayonnaise's case. Tiny droplets of oil are broken down and actually suspended in the lemon juice. Which is quite amazing considering that 1 cup of oil can be suspended in 1 TB of lemon juice. This is also the reason for the egg and mustard, they make the emulsion stable so it doesn't separate again. Without the stabilizers, the mayonnaise would revert to its original form of Lemon Juice with Olive Oil floating on top of it.

THIS is what makes cooking so EXCITING!!!!!

Now I will say this, a blender is your best friend for this. Simply add the lemon juice, egg, mustard, salt and 1/4 cup of the oil and turn the blender on. Remove the "cap" from the lid and pour in a thin stream of oil while the blender is running, and Voile! Mayonnaise....

I, however, have only a Magic bullet at the moment and this method will not work, as there isn't a small opening to add anything.  SO, I am using my Black & Decker Gizmo with a whisk attachment. You can also use a stick blender or, like in the olden days, you can do it by hand, but it takes a LOOOOOOOOONG time... but you WILL build up some serious guns. ;)

Basic Mayonnaise

1 Large egg or 2 Egg Yolks
Juice of 1/2 lemon - about 1 - 1 1/2 TB
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
pinch of salt
1 cup olive oil or your choice (I used the last of my Kalamata Olive oil)

OK, Lets talk options and/or additions....

The Acid - you can use Lemon Juice, Lime juice or any Vinegar EXCEPT Rice vinegar, rice vinegar has a lower acidity and contains too much sugar. (high acidity is important, as you will see at the end)

The Mustard - Use your favorite mustard (I like Dijon) but German Brown, American Yellow, Chinese hot, even Sweet mustard are good too.

The Oil - Your choice, I always suggest that people taste their oil, if you like it over salad, then chances are, you will like it in your mayonnaise. You can even mix them... a little Extra Virgin mixed with Classic or Light, mellows out the flavor a little. Add some Safflower, Peanut oil, or Macadamia Nut oil...   The choice is yours.  You can even experiment with other nut oils such as Walnut, Almond, Hazelnut. Heck even Apricot Kernel, Pumpkin Seed or Rice Bran Oils can be tasty as well.

I have several favorite Olive oils that I use for flavor. One from Sicily, which I use primarily for my pizza and focaccia dough, an unfiltered Italian one that I love on green salads and for Caprese because of it's high pepper bite, and finally, the one I use most for my mayonnaise Greek Kalamata Olive oil. I love the rounded fruitiness of the oil. YUM!

The Additions - Wasabi powder (as I did this time) Tobasco, Chipotle Powder, Prepared Horseradish, La-Yu, a drop of Truffle oil, a dash of Balsamic, Orange oil, Lime oil, Cracked Black Pepper, Fennel Pollen, Tarragon, Sage, Dill, Ginger, Coriander, Smoked Paprika, or even Garlic (although that does not make it aioli - aioli does not contain egg and is a pour-able sauce)

OK, lets Make Mayo!!!!

In a small bowl, crack and egg....

Squeeze in the Lemon Juice (or add the vinegar)

Add Dijon Mustard and a pinch of salt

I added 1/2 tsp Wasabi powder too....

Mix it up

Then add 1/4 cup of the oil.

Turn on the mixer or stick blender and don't stop.

You will notice that the whole mixture becomes homogeneous (kind of like a salad dressing)
at this point, begin drizzling the remaining 3/4 cup olive oil into the bowl, continuing to whisk it or stick blend it or with the blender still running. (A stick blender or your upright blender works best for this, you really have to be careful if you are doing this with a whisk, dribble the oil VERY slowly)

Eventually, it will suddenly become white and thick.... Continue beating and drizzling until you have added all the oil and the mixture is thick.

THIS IS IMPORTANT.

DO NOT USE THE MAYONNAISE YET!!!!

Either cover with plastic on the surface or place in the jar you will be storing it in and put the lid on. Then leave the mayonnaise at room temperature for 1 hour.....

No more, no less. 1 hour.....

This is where the acid is important and why you cannot use lower acidity rice vinegar. The Acetic acid in the vinegar or the Citric acid in the lemon juice will KILL Microbes, Bacteria and all other kinds of Beasties that may be lurking about, if you leave it at room temperature. This includes Salmonella, if the egg was infected. If you refrigerate it, the acid will be inhibited and not perform it's job. It must be left alone. I would still recommend this even if you are using pasteurized eggs, since there may still be beasties in the bowl you mixed it in, or in the jar that you will be storing it in.

Voile! Mayonnaise, made to order.... AWESOME!!!!!

Mangia!!
~~

9 comments:

Aline said...

I can relate on mayonnaise, my mom has always made her own mayonnaise for as long as I can remember. The only store-bought mayonnaise I can eat is organic.
I must be under-beating mine, though, because it always ends up runny. I was told to add a little cornstarch at the beginning to make sure it becomes thick, but to no avail! Maybe I add too much lemon juice (I like putting all the lemon's juice). Don't know. I'll try your recipe once

Add a dash of tomato paste and a little cognac and there you have a nice sauce cocktail that'll go deliciously with shrimp!

girlichef said...

I definitely love homemade mayonnaise, I guess I'm just too lazy to make it. With all of your learnin' here, though...it makes me want to get off my bum and just do it! Thanks for the kick :)

ImStuffed said...

I've never made mayo cuz the whole "raw egg" thing freaks me out a little. but if the vinegar or lemon juice does what its suppose to...then I just might have to try this! I don't think I've ever had homemade mayo before.

DDpie said...

Shane you so rock dude! I've been wanting to try this (as you know) and totally spaced it. Thanks for all the great info! One question, how long does the mayo last once refrigerated?

Culinary Alchemist said...

Thanks Everyone... !! :)

DD - It will keep longer if you use vinegar because the acidity is standardized to about 5% although balsamic is usually higher, at 6%... So it keeps about 2 2 1/2 weeks... Lemons fluctuate in acidity, so as a precaution I try to use it up in about 1 - 1 1/2 weeks...
I don't trust bottled lemon juice, cause the actual vitamin C is "dead" already due to oxidation during processing.

DDpie said...

I wouldn't DREAM of using (fake) bottled lemon juice in one of YOUR recipes (wink wink) Seriously tho, I'm making some TODAY, to use in some seafood salad...oh gawd, can't WAIT!

Culinary Alchemist said...

HA HA HA ---- oooo So are you going to use white wine vinegar or Lemon Juice or 1 1/2 tsp of each? Light Olive oil? or a combination of Canola/soy & Extra Virgin... OMG! the possibilities are endless!!! I am excited for you!!! HA HA... Yeah, I really am a food geek...

DDpie said...

You'll have to read my blog...yes, if I'm going thru all this trouble...there will be a blog post....I need a project, it's raining and I can't do gardening or cook out! hahahahahahaha

Anonymous said...

Epic Fail! I followed directions to a tee! Used hand held with wisk attachment, for 20 minutes. It never thickened, and at the end of twenty minutes when I gave up, it completely separated in the bowl. So disappointed!