There’s a few things I make at least once a week – bone broth, no-knead sourdough bread, homemade salad dressings, easy roast chicken, and, mayonnaise. I use it for sandwiches for the lunches my son packs for school, as well as a base for dips and dressings. It’s easy to do, coming together in only a few moments, and helps my family avoid the refined vegetable oils that you typically find even natural brands of mayonnaise (though I do like Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise which is made with sunflower oil).
For a long time, mayonnaise making was pretty hit-and-miss for me. Sometimes it came together in a beautiful, smooth emulsion, and other times it was thin and gloopy – a miserable waste of eggs and oil. After a few years of making my own, I stumbled across a tip that has helped me to make smooth, beautifully emulsified mayonnaise every time without a hitch.
Fresh Egg Yolks
Mayonnaise is a classic sauce that is based on raw egg yolks which allow for the emulsification of oil into a bit of lemon juice, water and vinegar. Raw eggs are particularly rich in choline, a heat-sensitive B vitamin that is critical to several biological functions. Choline deficiency is linked to liver disease, atherosclerosis as well as neurological disorders (read it here). Choline, much like folate which is found in leafy greens as well as organ meats like liver, is critical to women of reproductive age because it helps to mitigate the risk of birth defects in their children (read it here). Further, women with higher intakes of choline are less likely to suffer from breast cancer according to some researchers (read it here and here).
The best source of dietary choline is egg yolk, followed by organ meats like liver and kidneys as well as fish roe. Choline is heat-sensitive, like many vitamins, so I make sure to include some choline-rich foods in their raw or minimally cooked forms, as for this avocado oil mayonnaise.
Further, when you choose eggs from pasture-raised hens – those hens who are allowed to stretch their legs outside, under the sun and peck at grubs, bugs, sprouts and the occasional kitchen scrap, you’re serving a more nutrient-dense food in general. The eggs from pasture-raised hens are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene than the eggs of hens kept in confinement.
Lemon juice brings a little bit of acidity to mayonnaise, balancing its light and neutral flavor. Any acid will work, including vinegar, but lemon juice brings a freshness that vinegar doesn’t. If you can use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.
Salt helps us to taste other flavors, and brings balance to the foods we eat. I favor sea salt, and you can find it here, because I like its briny notes and the way each different salt tastes a touch different depending on where it’s from. I tend to use unrefined salts in my kitchen including this one which is mined in Utah because I like their natural variation.
These unrefined sea salts offer mildly different flavors, come in different colors and retain the trace minerals that are typically removed through the refinement process of table salt. As unrefined sea salts are not iodized like table salt, it’s important to make sure you’re eating plentiful other iodine-rich foods like sea vegetables (I like Maine Coast Sea Vegetables), sustainably caught shellfish and sustainably caught fish.
Avocados, like olives, are particularly rich in monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat is a heart-healthy fat, thought to reduce inflammation, and you can find it in abundant quantities in olive oil, lard, hazelnut oil and sunflower seed oil as well as in avocados.
While I typically make my homemade mayonnaise from extra virgin olive oil, and there’s a recipe for Olive Oil Mayonnaise in my cookbook – The Nourished Kitchen, olive oil’s assertive flavor can be overpowering for some people who prefer the lighter, mild flavor of avocado oil. The resulting mayonnaise is thick and creamy, but also neutral in flavor.
Where to Find Avocado Oil
You can find organic, cold-pressed avocado oil in most health food stores, in many grocery stores, and even at Costco. You can also order it online here as well as at Thrive Market which offers wholesale prices on many organic goods.
My best trick for getting smooth, thick mayonnaise …
If you’ve ever tried making mayonnaise at home only to watch it fail miserably at emulsifying, leaving you with a viscous, oily yellow goop the consistency of salad dressing, you know the meaning of disappointment. I know it, too. I tried making homemade mayonnaise for years. Sometimes it would come out, and sometimes it wouldn’t.
Then I learned a simple, but counter-intuitive trick to getting thick mayonnaise every time: add water to it. No joke. About a tablespoon of water added to the yolks, salt and lemon helps to emulsify the mayonnaise, ensuring it comes out thick and spreadable every single time.
Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
- Drop the egg yolks into the basin of your food processor, then sprinkle them with salt. Spoon in the lemon juice and water.
- Close the food processor (I use this one.)and pulse it once or twice to combine, and then turn it on so that the blade continues moving smoothly. Working a half cup at a time, pour the avocado oil into the feeder tube of the food processor, allowing it to drip into the egg yolks in a very thin, smooth stream until the mayonnaise thickens and all the oil is incorporated into the egg yolks, about two or three minutes.
- Scrape the mayonnaise into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store it in the refrigerator no longer than a week.