Quick Bites from Pender

Mayonnaise – Culinary School Method

In Lessons From Cooking School, Recipes on April 4, 2010 at 11:45 am


We`ve made mayonnaise around here before — stinging nettle mayo.  But in my excitement to share the wonderful world of foraged nettles with all of you, I skipped over the basic hows and whys of mayonnaise — this is how we learned to make it in culinary school.

Mayo is an emulsified sauce.  An emulsion is formed when 2 liquids that normally wouldn’t combine are forced together.  In mayo’s case, oil and vinegar are the two liquids, and an egg yolk.  Mayonnaise is a permanent emulsion of vegetable oil and vinegar, as compared to a vinaigrette, which is a temporary emulsion of the same 2 liquids.

The difference?  An egg yolk in the mayo holds the emulsion in suspension, while if left alone, a vinaigrette would quickly separate into a small pool of vinegar within a  larger pool of oil.

The protein, lecithin, in the egg yolks binds the oil and vinegar droplets together and prevents them from separating — to a point — one large yolk contains enough lecithin to emulsify approx 7 oz, or 200 ml, of oil.  After that, the oil and vinegar will separate and the mayo will break.

This recipe is direct from Chef P’s private vault.  Dijon mustard was his secret weapon here, as well as in a vinaigrette.  He always included a little in both to boost the emulsification.  In a mayo, it allows you to stretch the 20o ml rule, and in a vinaigrette, it holds the oil and vinegar together longer than without it.

One final note: Commercially prepared mayonnaises and sandwich spreads contain preservatives that extend the life of the product.  Homemade mayos made with raw egg yolks should be used with common sense.  Store, covered, in the fridge, for up to 3 days — discard after that.  Products made with this mayo (sandwiches, potato salads, etc) should be kept cool at all times (ie not in a knapsack in a hot, stuffy cloakroom at school).

Culinary School Mayonnaise

Yield:  approx 1 Cup

Egg Yolk, large 1
Dijon Mustard 1 t 5 ml
Vegetable Oil 7 oz 200 ml
White Wine Vinegar 2 t 10 ml
Lemon Juice TT

t=teaspoon       oz=ounces       ml=millilitres    TT=to taste

By hand:

Whisk together the yolk and Dijon until frothy.  Continue to whisk vigourously while pouring in the oil in a slow, steady stream. (see Tips)  Add the vinegar, lemon juice and s+p to taste.

In a food processor:

Place the yolk and Dijon in the small bowl of a food processor (see Tips).  Pulse 3 or 4 times to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  With the motor on, pour the oil through the food chute in a slow and steady stream.  Once all of the oil is incorporated and the mayonnaise is thickening, remove the mayonnaise to a bowl.  Stir in the vinegar, lemon juice and s+p to taste.


  • Have all of the ingredients at room temperature — everything emulsifies better at room temp.
  • Create a donut-ring with a tea towel to rest the bowl in.  It will hold the bowl in place on the counter, and leave both of your hands free to whisk in the oil.
  • I find the 12 cup bowl of my food processor too big to make a single yolk mayonnaise – a double batch works fine, but I also have a smaller bowl & blade that fit into the main bowl .  I use that for single batches.
  • Store covered in the fridge until ready to use – will keep 3 days.
  • This recipe is a starting point.  The world is your oyster when you have a fresh batch of mayo, some herbs & spices and some imagination.  Variations on a Mayonnaise Theme:

Smoked Tuna on Ciabatta with tomato, pickled garlic scape and Preserved Lime & Ancho Mayo:

smoked tuna with preserved lemon and ancho mayonnaise

Caesar Salad Dressing:


Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich with Stinging Nettle Mayonnaise


What is your favourite flavoured mayo?

  1. Beautiful. I’ve always wanted to make mayonnaise but have never done it because I’m afraid it will go bad before I use it all haha. You did a lovely job, of course. Thanks for sharing this recipe and the lovely photos.

  2. Great post. Have been wanting to make mayo since a while. I like the details in the intro. Saving this one as favourite!

  3. Look at the perfection of that yolk!! Marvellous photography, great pointers and love the brilliance of nettle mayonnaise!

  4. Thanks for sharing, been looking for a good mayo recipe. Just about out so now is the time! Stunning photos and beautiful sandwiches BTW

  5. Great instructions. The Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich with Stinging Nettle Mayonnaise looks absolutely mouthwatering.

  6. Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

  7. Thanks for sharing! It seems simple but is an excellent starting point. Spicy cilantro mayo…here I come!

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