Monday, September 29, 2008

Mayonnaise Machine

One of the easiest ways to make mayonnaise is in a Cuisinart food processor. I suppose there are other brands that work as well, but I'm not a fraking Consumer Reports reporter and I'm not about to go out and test them all.

The default configuration of the Cusinart (bowl with blade, lid and stomper) is ideally suited to making mayonnaise and any cold emulsion sauce where oil must be "whisked" into a watery suspending medium. (It is also great for water-in-oil emulsions.) What makes this machine such an effective and, I should add, convenient instrument of emulsification, is the broad and rapidly spinning blade that hugely increases the surface area upon which the oil is broken into droplets and the means by which the oil is delivered to the blade.

Note the hole in the bottom of the stomper in the lower-right hand corner of the photo below.

The Machine From mayo

That hole is there for at least two reasons:
  1. It helps to prevent stomper from creating a vacuum and getting stuck when you try to remove it
  2. It allows you to use the stomper to dribble a liquid substance (such as oil) into another substance (such as egg) without having to stand there wondering why you needed to go to school to find work as a statue.

From mayo

The Cuisinart is not great for making less than 8 ounces of mayonnaise, and I use it only when I need at least a quart. I use a stand-mixer when I need to make much more than a quart, and for smaller amounts the best machine is an immersion blender (or blender-on-a-stick, if you prefer) or you can use a whisk and bowl. However, none of these let you walk away from them while the oil is being introduced.

Here is a slideshow that shows me (my hands really) making mayonnaise at work this Saturday past. I'll anticipate at least one question about the recipe by saying that I often use whole eggs rather than yolks alone because it produces a lighter bodied and flavored sauce which I prefer for many preparations involving raw vegetables. The mayonnaise you see being constructed in the slide show was being made for dressing a chicken salad.


blondee47 said...

how long could this mayonnaise stay in the fridge and should the container be a bottle?

Jennie/Tikka said...

How about a word or two about Mayo's garlicy brother: Aioli? :)

Oh, by the way - do you advocate a flavorless canola oil for that mayo, or a good olive oil???

Bob del Grosso said...

I think mayonnaise can last for months if it is kept covered and cold. But I really don't know how long exactly.

Since I designed the post was more about the machine than the sauce, I did not want to complicate it by including a discussion of ingredients and variations on the basic recipe.

Aioli is mayonnaise with garlic. I'm not sure which sauce was developed first but conventional wisdom says that aioli is a derivative (more like a daughter than a brother) sauce and mayonnaise (according to Escoffier) is one of the mother sauces.

I don't make aioli much these days, but when I do I always make it with good olive oil. It is not a subtle or light sauce.

Ruhlman will probably throw a fit if he reads this, but I no use for canola oil. It's okay when you use it raw, but smells and tastes "fishy" as soon a you heat it. I hate the sh-t. I might be tempted to keep it on hand for cold preparations (like mayo) but since there are other oils that taste great cold and don't smell like a sailor's brothel when you heat them up I prefer to use those. Grapeseed oil is my favorite (it has a really high smoke point too, like 550 degrees?), safflower oil -both are great for mayo.

Olive oil for mayo? I use that when I'm making French food but not so much for sandwiches or anything the kids would eat.

Mike Pardus said...

I'd have to research this a bit - and maybe I should before commenting- but, what the hell....I seem to remember one of my mentors telling me that originally, aioli was made without egg - the oil was emulsified into the raw garlic paste - drop by drop - in a mortar and pestle.

anyone want to weigh in on this one?

Bob del Grosso said...


I heard that aioli was originally made without egg too and, while I have zero historical evidence to to support this, I think it may be true because it makes sense and because I have made an emulsified garlic and oil sauce without egg, no problemo (BTW you can't do it without adding water or something that is mostly water.

Vexingly, unless someone is prepared to do the hard work of discovering which came first (mayo or aioli) there is nothing to do but go along with the judgment of ancestors like Escoffier, and base the parentage of aioli on it's complexity relative to sauces that it can be made from most easily. So just like sauce choron is most easily made from Hollandaise, aioli is most easily made from mayonnaise.

Thus, in Escoffier's system of classification aioli is a derivative of mayonnaise and sauce choron is derived from hollandaise.

That is bullshit, of course, and each sauce should be classified based on it's physical structure and how its components physically interact with each other (at least that is what I believe). But in the absence of a more modern system of relating one sauce to the other, Escoffier's is still the best.

Mike Pardus said...

Bob- You say
"Vexingly, unless someone is prepared to do the hard work of discovering which came first (mayo or aioli)"...

The man who did this work is Clifford Wright, author of "A Mediterranean Feast" - possibly the most comprehensive ( and approachable) work on food from that region.

According to Wright, "the first apparent mention of anything resembling allioli is in the writings of Pliny who...writes that "when garlic is "beaten up in oil and vinegar it swells up in a foam to a surprising size" "

Wright goes on to say "There is no doubt in my mind that mayonnaise was the evolutionary development from allioli. Whether all of the emulsions known throughout the Mediterranean are derived from this ursprung is less certain. There is a good possibility of serendipitous culinary invention."

I knew I'd find it in Wright's book - I was just being lazy - and cooking dinner and uploading video, and helping the kid with math....

If you're not familiar with "Med Feast" you ought to be...

Bob del Grosso said...

Cool, that's very convincing. My gut tell me that mayonnaise was not the first manmade oil-in-water emulsion, and it's nice to read evidence that suggests that it was not.

Jon in Albany, NY said...

I was hoping my ignorance wouldn't show for at least the first week I've been following this blog, but...I had thought there were 5 mother sauces (Espagnole, Tomato, Bechamel, Veloute and Hollandaise)and mayonnaise wasn't one of them. I had always considered mayonnaise an ingredient..

I guess using mayo in chicken salad could be "saucing" the chicken. And mayo is a pretty versatile, but I would never have thought to put mayonnaise in the same league as the other five.

Any insight into Escoffier's train of thought out there? When did mayonnaise turn the Big 5 into the Big 6?

Mike Pardus said...

Jon in Albany - "5 Mother Sauces" is just an easy way to scratch a very deep subject. Sort of like a Clift Notes of cookery. Read the first few paragraphs on Sauces in Larousse Gastronomique - and then plow through the next 20 pages of fine print text - plenty of insight there...but it doesn't simplify things.

Jon in Albany, NY said...

I'll take a look. After a week of reading these blogs, I've got
Escoffier's Bible, Larousse's Gastronomique, and Wright's Mediterranean Feast to thumb through. Sounds like I should throw McGee On Food & Cooking in there too.

Looks like I've got to quit screwing around online and hit the books!

Mike Pardus said...

Jon - Read McGee and Wright, use the other two as you would an encyclopedia - look up stuff you don't understand or need depth and clarity on. We throw the names of these tombs around like they were light weight fiction digested in an afternoon...truth is, we've been reading them and going back to them for 20+ years. Don,t be intimidated, the learning never ends - that's why it's sooo cool.

seriousdarious said...

Awesome. Another post read, another book I have to get (Wright). Thanks guys. I do have a question, though. "Almost any acidic substance that you are sure is safe"? Please explain. Thanks.

Bob del Grosso said...

I'm not sure what your question is asking. Would you mind rephrasing it?
Thanks! bdG

seriousdarious said...

Sorry, I'll be more clear. That's a partial quote from the caption for slide #3. You're talking about using lemon juice for this particular batch of mayo, then you say, "But almost any acidic substance that you are sure is safe will do." I'm just curious/confused about the "safe" part. Unless you're being flippant about the "acidic substance" (i.e. warning us not to use a non-safe acidic substance such as hydrochloric acid) I'm not sure what food-grade acidic substance wouldn't be "safe." Hope I made more sense this time. Thanks.

Bob del Grosso said...

Yeah, sorry. I was not being flippant with that recommendation. But what I meant was "any acidic substance that was generally understood to be something that one could add to food." So I was referring to vinegar, lemon juice, food grade ascorbic, citric, tartaric acid and so on. Sorry for the confusion.

seriousdarious said...

Fair enough. It's my fault for focusing on the words and not the meaning. I've been thinking a lot recently about the issues that you and a few others (Ruhlman, Chris Cosentino @ are writing about and I was in "focus very intently" mode and not "don't see the forest for the trees" mode. Thanks for a great blog.