There’s cooking and there’s cooking.
Throwing some chicken on the grill, over seasoning with a store-bought seasoning mix, then checking that it is cooked enough to avoid salmonella poisoning is cooking of a sort. Throwing everything into a pot and cooking until done is also technically cooking, but ‘cooking’ is a discipline that extends across a continuum from the ham-fisted, knuckle-dragging cooking that I do, through an inspired craft, ending at fine artistry in edibles.
I think cooking is a big part of any success I have had over the years in maintaining my (at the moment) 65 pound weight loss – and I’ve made a number of inspired dishes, though a true gastronomic devotee would be generous in saying that it least there was some creativity and enthusiasm.
But then there’s technique – knowing what your ingredients can do, understanding their properties and the proportions that yield something special – something unexpected. Something rising above mere cooking.
Mayonnaise is one of these things.
I’ve tried making mayonnaise before. Instructions? Who needs instructions? I put the ingredients together and blended, only to create an oily speckled goo, only good for clogging my kitchen drain.
This left me scared to try again, but I am a slave to the fatty, tangy goodness that is mayonnaise.
What is the problem, you say? You’re on a low carb diet – why not buy mayonnaise and be done with it?
The oils used in commercial mayonnaise is the problem. Since fats make up about 70% of my calories, I believe it’s pretty important that I use high quality fats. As detailed in my post The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledygook’, I am wary of seed oils. Most commercial mayonnaise is made from soybean oil – heated to high temperatures, bleached, deodorized, and utterly ruined as a foodstuff. The oil in the soybean was meant to be *in a soybean*. Take it out and it become denatured, and in my humble opinion – dangerous.
You can buy ‘Olive oil Mayonnaise’ – can’t you?
Yeah – right. Read the label – the put in just enough to be allowed to legally put it on the label – and olive oil is one of the most counterfeited foods.
Call me paranoid, but I think commercial mayonnaise is probably the worst low carb food I regularly eat.
I decided this past weekend that I would try again to make my own. This time I knew a bit more about the science behind the ingredients – at least I thought so.
Mayonnaise is mostly oil and egg yolks. Egg yolks have magical properties in the hands of someone who knows what to do with them. They are an emulsifier – helping to mix things together that don’t particularly want to be mixed – but you have to know that this is a process that requires a little technique – and I mean a little – but the last time I tried I just put all the ingredients in a jar and blended. Result: oily speckled goo.
This time I decided to actually try to follow the recipe – sorta. There are scads of recipes on the Internet and they are pretty much the same. Here’s what I used:
- 1 cup of the best olive oil I can get my hands on: Trader Joe’s California Estate Extra Virgin. The stuff is unfiltered, fresh, and has a spiciness to it that actually tickles the back of the throat and makes you cough. It is intense ans unlike anything else I’ve ever eaten
- 2 egg yolks. Since we’re eating raw eggs here, I have some trepidation – but I eat raw fish as sashimi and raw oysters. You take chances with *any* food you eat, I told myself as reassurance. To reduce the odds of an inconvenient stomach-pumping, I bought the most expensive, organic, cage free, pastured eggs. Again, I justify this by avoiding supplements and spending that money on high-quality food instead.
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
- 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
I use an immersion blender because it’s about the laziest way to mix anything. Cleanup is a breeze. I hate food processors – way too complicated – and the result is a sink full of parts to clean. I have to be very inspired to pull that monster out.
I found a tall jar that the immersion blender would fit into and added all the ingredients except for the oil. I have seen all sorts of gizmos for removing the egg whites from the yolk, but these are unnecessary. Crack the egg in half, then over a container, gently slosh the yolk back and forth between the 2 shell halves. The whites will drain out and you are left with just the yolk and a small bit of egg white, which is fine.
I mixed these together for a minute and then began to pour in the oil. The trick here is to tell yourself: “I’ve got all day.” Take your time. I drizzled in the oil so slowly that I sometimes couldn’t tell if oils was entering the jar, all the while keeping my immersion blender on, the cheap grocery store device rapidly heating as these things are usually designed for short bursts rather than a long mixing time.
After about 3 minutes, nothing. It looked like a creamy milkshake – not mayonnaise. I supposed I was going to throw away another cup of good oil.
Then suddenly – it changed. The magic kicked in. It got super thick as it crossed some culinary tipping point and looked like actual mayonnaise – except that it was a bright yellow – probably from the olive oil and the deep orange yolk of the expensive eggs. A real good egg does not have a yellow yolk – they’re orange – from the beta-carotene in the chicken’s diet, or so I have been led to believe.
I kept pouring slowly and mixing and the mayonnaise kept taking the oil until my cup of oil was empty.
Now finished, I took a taste. I have never tasted mayonnaise like this before. The strong spicy flavor of the oil and the tabasco sauce gave this stuff a slight kick, and the lemon and vinegar added those notes of tartness that you’d expect from mayo.
Putting aside the ingredients – this stuff was out of this world delicious.
My only problem now is eating too much. I can eat it by itself by the spoonful, it’s so good. I’ve put it on hot dogs, sausages and pork rinds – and I almost cringe at the thought of what else I might try it on.
In the end, it took me maybe 15 minutes for the whole operation. It was worth it.
I don’t know how long this stuff should last in the fridge. I will probably start to get nervous by the end of the first week, but it’s going fast – I don’t know if it will last that long.
I was 210 on Monday and 205 this morning. I’m not saying that this mayo had anything to do with my weight loss – but it certainly didn’t hurt.
UPDATE: So just how long does this stuff last in the refrigerator?
I have been living on this stuff since I made this the first time. I am on my third batch and no longer buy the store-bought version. My daughter, who was not a mayonnaise fan before, has become quite fond of the stuff. Being that the case, the last time I made it I added more oil just as a test and the mixture took it. I think I got it to take another 3/4 of a cup.
Now I had a lot, but the question that still remained for me was: how long can I continue eating a given batch before I make myself sick from a sauce with raw egg in it?
I can report that I had 3 tablespoons of the stuff 12 days after making it with apparently no ill effects. I can make no guarantee for the lifespan of YOUR versions should you try it. I only thought it was my duty to experiment with the potential for food poisoning so I could report back on the shelf-life of the stuff.
Remember: I used eggs fresh from the farmer, organic, with shells that showed no cracks as well as the best extra-virgin olive oil I have ever been able to find. It might be the freshness of the ingredients that matter – or dumb luck.
Perhaps on my my next batch I might not be so lucky.
My speculation on why this has lasted so long is that the acidity from the vinegar and lemon might be acting to lengthen it’s lifespan – but then I would have to get a pH test kit and research that – too much trouble. There are also websites of dubious research that claim olive oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties – but again, I’m too lazy to track down their claims at present.
Rolling the dice with food poisoning seems so much easier.