Meditating In The Kitchen: The Joy Of Homemade Mayonnaise

Meditating In The Kitchen: The Joy Of Homemade Mayonnaise

I’ve been told numerous times that making homemade mayonnaise is oh-so-easy with a food processor. Indeed it might be. For some people. But not for me. Or perhaps my food processor just really doesn’t enjoy making this condiment. Or maybe it is fretting about the use of uncooked egg yolks. But I digress. Whenever I use the food processor, I lose my ability to slowly and carefully - in a controlled manner - form the necessary emulsion.

After numerous failed attempts at making mayonnaise the supposedly quick and easy way, I decided to try the low-tech way.  The one with a bowl and a whisk.  And not only did I succeed in making it, I fell in love with the process.  Which is actually strange for me, as I’m not exactly what you would call a patient person.  In fact, I’m the opposite of patient.  And patience is integral to this endeavor.

I whisk those egg yolks together, creating a bright and happy yellow substance, one full of anticipation about what’s to come.  And then I add one tablespoon of oil.  And whisk.  Once those eggs have taken in the oil as their own, I then repeat the process.  Again and again.  Tablespoon by tablespoon.

I keep going until the oil has been completely absorbed into those egg yolks, and the mixture has faded to a pale yellow hue, but has expanded into a rich and creamy condiment.  The addition of salt, pepper, and either vinegar or citrus juice, turns this emulsion into a mayonnaise.

The process takes about ten minutes, giving my wrist and arm a workout.  The music gives my mind something to hold onto.  I make progress, little by little, concentrating completely on the task at hand (and of course, the music).

There is that whole cliché about how it isn’t about the destination but the journey.  But in the case of homemade mayonnaise, I like to think it is both. 

Basic Mayo

2 egg yolks
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place egg yolks in a small bowl.  Whisk the egg yolks to break them up.  Add a tablespoon of oil.  Whisk that into the egg yolks so the yolks absorb it.  Then repeat.  And repeat.  Just be patient.  It will probably take about 10 minutes to get through all the oil.  Stir in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. 

Want to turn this basic mayonnaise into something fancier?
Add some jalapeno, lime, cilantro, garlic, coriander, and cumin.  Or throw in some fresh thyme leaves, lemon, and garlic.  Or orange juice and zest and snipped chives.  Swap out the canola oil for some olive oil. The possibilities are endless! Have fun with it!

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