I love the idea of making cheaper, healthier, tastier versions of food I regularly buy at the supermarket. It's just a question of learning how, and hoping it's not too complicated. And hoping it is cheaper, healthier and tastier!
I've only been a regular buyer of mayonnaise in recent times, as I've discovered it's an essential addition to a hot chicken sandwich - a recent favourite in our household. I quite like to slip it in to a lunchtime salad sandwich too. But a read of the label made me wonder what mayonnaise really is. Knowing that is it egg based, and finding "egg powder" well down a very long list of ingredients made me think I could do better. Egg powder just doesn't sound that tasty, and there are a lot of things on that long list that I bet are not in the homemade version.
So I had a go. I decided to hand whisk rather than just use a beater as it sounded somehow easier to control and appealed to my old fashioned-ness. It was fairly quick but certainly took some muscle. And there it was, a jar of mayonnaise in our fridge, simple as that.
But. Well. The thing is. Well, you see... I didn't really... like it. What a terrible beginning to my new venture. Here I was, being a healthy, wholesome, back-to-basics, home-cooking queen, and, um... I just wanted the stuff in the jar. And funnily enough, the problem was that it tasted too eggy.
I dodged the issue for quite a few days, and hoped my husband would eat it up in his sandwiches (he did). But eventually I decided that this wasn't right, so I had a look at some more recipes and decided I would try again. One recipe suggested white wine vinegar as an alternative to lemon juice and suggested adding WAY more than my original recipe. And that, I realised, had been the problem. As well as it tasting eggy, there wasn't enough tang. More lemon juice or white wine vinegar would certainly add tang.
So I had a go again. I divided my mayo mixture in half after adding the first 4 ingredients, and added plenty of lemon juice to one and white wine vinegar to the other. The white wine vinegar really gave the tanginess I was after where the lemon juice couldn't quite keep up, and I even added a little more. The added vinegar also turned the mixture from a rather distressing bright yellow to a beautiful, creamy buttery colour, and more importantly, it hid the eggy taste. Phew! I liked it.
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
250ml oil (mildly flavoured, eg canola or groundnut)
2-3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Whisk egg yolks, mustard and a little salt and pepper together
Slowly add the oil in a thin trickle to begin with, whisking all the time, and continue to add in a steady stream. Continue to whisk for a few seconds after all the oil is incorporated.
Add the white wine vinegar (or lemon juice), tasting as you go and adding more as you wish.
The Consumer recently tested supermarket bought mayonnaise and they had some interesting comments. The first being, "For a quick salad or a last minute sandwich there's no time to whip up a batch of real mayonnaise. So is there an acceptable version straight out of a jar?" But the verdict was "none of the mayonnaises came anywhere near matching the real thing." So I have to say, whipping up a batch of the real thing is pretty quick and, given the verdict, why wouldn't you?