Cut-Rate Condiments: Homemade Mayo

Photo: Four Spoons

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?

As you may know from my previous posts about yogurt and beer-making, I have three criteria about “make your own” products.

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.

The results:

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!

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Guest's picture

Homemade mayo doesn't have to take forever; I use my blender, and as long as you drizzle in the olive oil slowly, it comes together in less than a minute.

I like to make a vegan version that requires only bread crumbs, lemon juice, and some olive oil, to which I add garlic and salt for flavor. It's a great way to use up stale bread.

Squeeze two lemons and soak two cups of bread crumbs in the juice. In a blender or food processor, blend up 1-5 cloves garlic. Add bread crumb mixture and drizzle in 1/2 to 2/3 cup olive oil. Blend until creamy.

Marla Walters's picture

Christina, thanks for the vegan version! It sounds yummy!

Guest's picture

I have always wanted to try making my own mayonnaise. Now I may have to give it a try after all. Thanks for the inspiration. :-)

Marla Walters's picture

Hi, Zachary -- thank you for your comment. I think it is definitely worth the effort. Would love to hear how your mayo works out -- please keep us posted.

Guest's picture

Use a stick blender to mix it up in the jar you'll be storing the mayo in. It takes less than a minute and there's very little clean up time. If you have herb vinegar [boy, is that cheap & easy to make, plus it's great in marinades and salad dressings], substitute the lemon juice out with that for a delicious twist on the standard.

And ask your hubby and family to stick with the home made condiments for a little while. Our sense of taste has been dulled by processed foods, but once you get acclimated to the good flavor of food, the store-bought mayo just doesn't stack up, and that's texture as well as flavor.

Looking forward to the ketchup recipe!

Guest's picture

I like to use extra light olive oil for mayo.
Lighter than evoo, but a richer flavor than canola.

Guest's picture

this homemade mayo sounds like it would be a interesting condiment ill have to give it a try.

Guest's picture

I have been making my own mayo for 8 years now. I use a blender recipe that is much faster and easier to clean up. We make a double batch and immediately use half of that to make our own ranch-style salad dressing. I have also made a miracle whip substitute, it is not difficult, but takes longer and requires some cooking.

Guest's picture

I've become a huge fan of Rocco DiSpirito's low-cal mayonaise, from his book "Now Eat This." It's not traditional by any means (no eggs, no oil), but it passes off as the real thing, quite convincingly, using only natural ingredients... in particular, Greek yogurt, cornstarch, and a combination of vinegar, mustard, and a little zero-calorie sweetner (Truvia=stevia=natural). I highly recommend it, so you can eat all the carrots you'd like.

Marla Walters's picture

Thanks for the suggestion, Nick!

Guest's picture

If I added either some minced fresh garlic or garlic powder to this, would I have something akin to aioli? Or is that a completely different recipe? I always thought it was pretty much garlic mayo.

Marla Walters's picture

Hi, Renee. Yes, this is definitely very close to an aioli, from what I have read. Thanks for commenting!

Guest's picture

Try using sunflower oil...better for you than Canola Oil (which is really machinery oil BTW). I use my foodprocessor...mix eggs, vinegar etc first, then slowly add oil - keep machine running the entire time...takes less than 5 mintues!

Guest's picture

I like using Mazola Oil when making my mayo. For all the novices out there....if making mayo and it starts looking like melted butter it won't thicken, no matter how long you mix it. But you can still use it for dressings in salads.