Cut-Rate Condiments: Homemade Mayo
In my fantasy kitchen, I have an entire refrigerator devoted to condiments. I think meals are made so much more interesting by adding condiments. What is a hot dog without mustard, or french fries without ketchup? As I mentioned above, though, condiments are certainly easy to buy. So why would I try to make my own?
Well, first off, because I am cheap.
Secondly, because I love a challenge.
Lastly, because circumstances dictated that I try. When the price of my beloved Best Foods (also known as Hellman’s, for you folks east of the Rockies) rose to over $6 (30 oz.) here, we switched to a store brand. It was slightly different, but it worked. That got me thinking: could I make this stuff?
The second “hmmmm” moment occurred when I read a news item about the H.J. Heinz Company changing its famous Heinz Tomato Ketchup recipe for the first time in nearly forty years. The newer recipe is 15% lower in sodium. Would it be good? Or would the classic product be ruined? (We have not yet had the opportunity to try the new version.) In the interim, I started wondering about whether I could make ketchup that we would like as well.
To round out my condiment-making experiment, I decided that if I am making my own mayonnaise and ketchup, how can I leave out mustard?
1. Is the product I make better?
2. Is it cheaper?
3. How much time did it take?
The time factor is the least important. Quality is foremost, to me. Cooking experiments are my idea of a good time; and yes, I know that is odd.
This first post is about my attempt at mayonnaise. I have to admit that we use a lot of it. We usually eat sandwiches for lunch; I use it in my homemade salad dressing; and then there are recipes such as potato or pasta salad that call for mayonnaise. It is quite the popular jar in our fridge. Unfortunately, it is a condiment high in fat: even “light” mayonnaise contains 5 grams of fat in one tablespoon, one gram of which is saturated fat.
In beginning my search, I talked to two field experts: my Auntie Joyce and my neighbor Flora. Both are in their 80’s. They had very similar comments:
1. “Get the freshest eggs possible.”
2. “Making mayonnaise is not difficult.”
3. “During the War, we had to make our own.”
4. “It’s really much better. I can’t remember why I quit making it.”
I then headed to my cookbook shelf, which offered a few recipes, but nothing that really intrigued me. That led to an Internet search, where I found many more possibilities. Maybe this was truly doable. I also am somewhat picky about the ingredients in my food, and like the idea of being able to control those.
The recipe I chose to attempt is from BigOven.
I liked the idea that the recipe calls for a little red pepper and paprika, as I figured it would be a nice color (which was correct). It also did not look too difficult.
To verify the freshness of your eggs, you can do this handy test.
I also used a fresh lemon, instead of bottled lemon juice.
For the first test, I used olive oil, simply because I had a large Costco bottle of it, and I like it. For the second test, I used canola oil. I think the canola oil made for a lighter mayonnaise, although not as flavorful.
Actual preparation is not at all difficult, which made me glad I chose this recipe to try, first.
1. Is it better? We had a split vote in the Walters Test Kitchens. My daughter and I love it. Unfortunately, it is SO good, we could eat a lot of it, and that would be a bad idea. We tested it on baby carrots right after the first batch. It was great. I happened to have leftover ahi, to which I added the mayo, capers, avocado and lettuce. That was a pretty amazing sandwich. However, the naysayer was my husband, who prefers the old standby store-bought. He did concede that he thought would be good on a crab cake, or in a dip.
2. Is it cheaper? Not the first batch, because I used olive oil, which is pricey — $22 for four quarts. The second batch, using canola oil, was a little cheaper ($6.99 for 48 ounces of oil). I needed a cup and a half of oil, or $2.06 for olive and $1.75 for canola. Eggs are $2.00 a dozen; I needed two, which adds another 33 cents. The rest of the ingredients I had on hand. I would estimate I used fifty cents’ worth of dry ingredients. So, one pint of homemade mayonnaise cost me $2.90 to make with olive oil, and $2.60 to make with canola oil. I could have used a cheaper oil, such as vegetable oil, but I wanted to keep the mayonnaise as heart-healthy as possible.
3. How much time did it take? Including clean-up, the first batch took about 20 minutes. The second time was faster, about 15 minutes.
Have I quit buying mayonnaise? Nope. With usually only two of us at home, I am afraid I would eat it all by myself. However, when I want something fancier, now I make my own. To me, it is definitely a better quality, and I really like the fresh taste. I think it is also great in salad dressing. It only keeps for a few days, so I like the fact that it only makes a pint.
Would I recommend you make your own? If high quality is important, and you have fun messing around in your kitchen, then yes, try it. If you value the savings of your time more, then no, don’t bother.
Next post: Ketchup!