Although aunt Claudia, my mum’s younger sister, is a good and adventurous cook, this wasn’t the case back in the days when I was a kid. I remember her for three things: One – her shabby baby-blue VW beetle, which she had to have for her first job at the local newspaper and which suited her Hippie-style perfectly well. Two – her boyfriend, who always showed up with yet another car when he picked her up for a date (hint: his father was a car dealer). And three – my surprise when she taught me how to make mayonnaise.
Visiting my grandparents I always enjoyed complete culinary liberty. Take a Saturday evening, let’s say 9 pm, and I was craving a cake or similar, my grandma (arm twisted) happily surrendered and we both hurried to the kitchen. Anyway, this one evening I was dearly longing for her potato salad, which always included a great dollop of mayonnaise (yes, I’m one of those people). Yet her pantry didn’t offer any and grandma already started to sell me some alternative late dinner plans, just when Claudi jumped right in and provided the obvious solution nobody had thought of – to make mayonnaise ourselves. Boy, that’s how you impress your little niece!
We rarely use mayonnaise in today’s daily life, except for my grandma’s potato salad, French fries or as a sandwich spread. Not enough to stock up on store-bought stuff (which usually contains additives, coloring or artificial flavors). Which cannot – by no means – compete with freshly prepared mayo. At all. Of course Claudi had taught us the classic way to prepare the emulsion, by adding very, very little oil at a time and some ambitious whisking… And that’s what I did until a few years ago when I came across a TV show hosted by Tim Mälzer, who used a handheld blender instead and called this method super-easy and quite foolproof. I’m a convert ever since and can’t believe, that there are people out there (yes, Birgit, you!), that haven’t heard about this time-saving shortcut to mayonnaise.
It’s crucial, that all ingredients are at room temperature, otherwise your ingredients may not emulsify properly. If you keep your eggs in the fridge, just break one open into a small bowl and let come to room temperature on the counter within an hour. (Do the same with mustard and lemon juice if necessary.)
Add the ingredients to a tall plastic beaker (or similar), start with the egg, mustard, lemon juice and spices (I use 1/4 tsp, filled with about 3/4 salt and 1/4 black pepper – but feel free to adapt this to your own liking) and end with the sunflower oil. Don’t use olive oil for this preparation method, it is very likely to turn bitter.
Place the handheld blender on the bottom of your container, making sure to cover the egg with it. Start mixing on medium to high speed (some use the pulse function, but I never do) until the bottom part starts to emulsify and you can spot yellowish streaks of mayonnaise slowly making their way to the top. Now – very slowly – start moving the immersion blender upwards until all of the oil is incorporated and you have a smoothly textured mayonnaise. That’s it. Enjoy immediately or keep cool and well covered in the fridge for another day.
Recipe source: inspired by Tim Mälzer, Petra and others
Active time: less than 5 minutes
1 fresh egg (M or L), preferably organic
1 tsp mustard (e.g. Dijon)
1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar (or a mix of both)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
250 ml sunflower oil