Better than the Jars, Versatile if Spring ever comes:
(c) 2014, Davd
As i began to write this “technique description”, on the first day of spring, there was a Heavy Snowfall Warning in effect, and indeed, more snow falling on top of the metre or more that covers the ground, including the ground where—if Spring comes before Hell freezes over—herb plants might again send up green leaves. More than four months, more nearly five, have gone by since i last cut fresh chives, never mind oregano, tarragon, or such tender herbs as basil. So this post will be about the basic technique; i won’t harass you with stories of summer delights that are still months away…
(If spring ever comes. The radio has told me thirteen times or more, if it has told me once, that this is the worst winter in decades; and in Canada, it is easy to keep in mind that every so many thousand years there has been an Ice Age. Maybe that’s what comes next. To a Canadian, “climate change” doesn’t necessarily imply warming.)
To make mayonnaise this way, you’ll need a blender, eggs [“large” is the default size], at least a litre of vegetable oil, powdered dry mustard and paprika, salt, and vinegar. I prefer canola oil and white vinegar for the basic mayonnaise; and expect that for US readers, sunflower or corn oil would also serve well. If and when spring is well along, and the chives bloom, I’ll write about making herb-flavoured vinegars, and then about making herbed mayonnaise with them. Because cleaning a blender after making mayonnaise is somewhat tedious, i make at least four eggs worth at a time.
If you have recently bought a new blender, there should be directions with it; if you have one you are used to, you should know by now how to put it together. Take notice of the “pulse” feature, however that is implemented on the brand you have. “Pulse” blending stops when you lift your finger off the button. “Normal” blending keeps on until you press a “STOP” button (or imaginably, flip a switch somewhere.) This technique works better with “pulse”.
The hardest part of the procedure, is getting the finished mayonnaise from the blender container into a holding container for storage in the fridge. If you have somebody around to help you just with the 2-5 second “three handed part” of that, the rest of the job is straightforward and in my experience, reliably successful.
Crack an egg into the blender. Add one tablespoon1 of vinegar, and half a teaspoon [or slightly less] each of mustard powder, paprika powder, and salt. Fill a one-cup measuring container with oil2.
Put the cover on the blender, run it for 10 seconds or so; then lift up the inner cap (which leaves a hole in the middle of the cover) and pour about half the oil with the motor running. The first few times you do this, you may choose to stop the blender while removing the inner cap. I’ve been making mayonnaise this way for about 40 years; and i usually lift the inner cap once the egg, vinegar, and seasonings are mixed, then pick up the oil with my right hand and pour it through the opening. This first half pour you can do fairly fast, but i recommend the stream be thinner than a pencil3.
When the first half of your cup of oil is mixed in, stop the blender—that is, take your left finger off the pulse button. Add a second tablespoon of vinegar, and leave the inner cap lightly over the hole in the cover as you re-start—it may splash.
As soon as the second tablespoon of vinegar is mixed in, lift off the inner cap and pour the rest of the oil through the hole slowly. A stream half the thickness of a pencil is about right. As the last of the oil is poured, the sound will probably change… indicating that the mayonnaise is becoming semi-solid.
For the last of the process, things may get a little tedious. As the mayonnaise becomes semi-solid, air tends to form a pocket around the whirling blades, which may completely stop the mixing process and will reduce the resistance to the blades, allowing them to spin too fast. So, you have to stop the machine and using a rubber spatula [metal can cause damage if the blades hit it] work the air pocket up and out, and the mixture back around the blades.
Blender directions sometimes tell you to push the nearly-ready mayonnaise in from the edges and over-top the blades. This may work to keep the mixing happening, by putting enough mass of mayonnaise above the air pocket, that it bubbles up and out of the mass. It also risks having the blades hit the spatula—which is why only a rubber spatula should be tried. If you have a very steady hand and the blender container seems shaped so that the spatula trick will work with the blades spinning, try it if you choose. The cautious way is to stop the machine when the sound indicates the blades are spinning too fast; then poke the air pocket with the spatula, which will let the air bubble up and out .. then start the machine again. The PULSE button is much easier to use for this.
When the mixture is uniform—the same colour and consistency throughout, with no pockets of oil—you’ve made mayonnaise.
Now—how to get that mayonnaise somewhere for storage? I recommend plastic or glass containers, and i usually make 4-6 eggs worth of mayonnaise at a time. The task isn’t easy: You have a blender container with semi-solid mayonnaise in it, and if you try to pour that mayonnaise a lot of it will cling to the blending container. The best way to proceed is to take off the base of the blending container [by unscrewing it] and then push the mayonnaise down through the open bottom into the holding container.
This would be easier if you had three hands. You need one hand to hold the blender container and two to unscrew and remove the base—which will have a large blob of mayonnaise on it surrounding the blades. If the base has a wide, “cute skirt” rather than resembling an upside down jar lid, things will be more difficult—but you do need one hand on the handle of the blending container. I can usually manage to hold the sealing ring and blades against the bottom of the blender container with one finger, while taking off the screw-cap and swinging it out of the way.
That tricky part done, you remove the sealing ring and blades, set them down nearby, and push the mayonnaise down and out of the blender container, into the holding container. Then using the rubber spatula, take the mayonnaise from around the blades and put it also, into the holding container.
You could stop with one egg’s worth of mayonnaise, but it’s just about as much work to clean up after making one egg’s worth, as after making six—so i usually make 4-6 eggs worth once i start. In winter, the procedure above is all there is to it…
… or you can finish up with 1-2 batches to which you add a one-inch cube of blue cheese before you start the blades turning. (If you make the blue cheese batches first, the little bit you can’t easily get out of the blending container, will give a taste to the plain batches, so do the plain batches first!) Obviously, you store plain and blue cheese mayonnaise in different containers. Blue cheese mayonnaise isn’t only a salad dressing, but it does serve very well indeed, in that use. It doesn’t get as thick as plain mayonnaise, and will pour or spoon onto salads “quite nicely.”
In summer, you can add fresh herbs (also before starting to ‘blend’): I usually make chive-tarragon, basil-oregano, and if i have lots of dill, dill mayonnaise. Chive-tarragon goes especially well with fish and chicken; basil-oregano, with tomatoes, and dill with cucumbers and red meat (most herbed mayonnaise goes pretty well with cold red meat for a simple sandwich.) Methinks i should re-post about herbed mayonnaise and making herb vinegars, when the winter ends…4
1. The spoon I use is at least two teaspoonfuls in size, but may be short of the three teaspoonfuls that cookbooks define as “one tablespoon”. It works with this recipe, using “large” size eggs. If the tablespoon in your kitchen is quite large and the first batch of mayonnaise you make tastes too acid, fill the tablespoon less than cram full for the second batch.
2. You can put one cup of oil in a larger container, but i never have. “Measuring cups” usually pour well (having handles helps with that,) they are usually easy to clean, and why leave that much more oil on the inside of a larger container? I usually set the measuring cup on a cutting board (I have four: One for fish, one for meat, one for vegetables, and one for bread. The two largest are red oak, the others are larch; which woods are antiseptic. I pick whatever board is clean and could use oiling.
3. Why do i refer so often to the thickness of a pencil? Because nearly every household has pencils, and they’re all of a standard thickness, which for most men is easier to visualize than a measure in inches or centimetres. It also avoids the hassle of stating both measurements, since Canadian and most European readers think in metric while US and many UK readers think in feet and inches.
4 … as of April 9th, that’s barely begun. There was more snow last weekend… but maybe that much has melted since …