Feb 012010
Remember this post?  When I declared that I’d no longer be buying mayonnaise?  Ever again.
Well, I haven’t.
And I’ve been delving into all manner of mayonnaise recipes online and in books, in search of the perfect one ever since.  I’ve resurrected curdled mayonnaise’s more times than I’d like to admit (I’ve included my favorite remedy, below) and I’ve experimented with only egg yolks, egg yolks plus one egg, lemon juice vs. cider vinegar, by hand vs. blender vs. food processor vs. hand blender.  I studied Child, and Ruhlman.  And over the past few months I’ve really figured out the flavors and technique that I prefer.
And it surprised me.

And then I decided to make it lacto-fermented, so that it would last in the fridge for six to eight weeks, just like store bought mayonnaise (fresh mayonnaise that has not been lacto-fermented lasts about five days). To make this mayonnaise, you will need a little bit of fresh whey, so check out this post first to learn how to make it. And why are lacto-fermented foods beneficial?  They are not only probiotic (so you won’t need to buy that specialty, expensive yogurt – just make a sandwich with this mayonnaise and you’ll be set to go!) but they are more mineral and nutrient rich than other modern commercial varieties and lacto-fermentation was the traditional way to preserve foods before pasteurization and the Industrial Revolution.  Plus, it’s easy and it will allow you to make nourishing condiments for your family, from home, that last weeks to months in the fridge, very inexpensively!  Read this post for more information about the benefits of lacto-fermentation.

Please note, this mayonnaise does not taste like Best Foods/Hellmans.  It tastes better. Best Foods is made with canola and soybean oils which have little flavor on their own, aren’t good for us, and just make a mild flavored spread that makes bread moister. 

This recipe, on the other hand, is made with spicy, rich olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice, I go back and forth) and just bursts with flavor.  No longer is it just used to make a sandwich moist or to blandly bind ingredients together in a chicken salad, this mayonnaise is an ingredient on it’s own, with full flavor.  It adds to the finished product rather than just being a medium towards something else.  Though it takes a little time to get used to and to wrap your head around the concept of a flavor-full mayonnaise, we won’t be going back.

Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise
adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
makes about 2 cups of mayonnaise

1 egg and 2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1 Tablespoon whey

Fill the bowl of your food processor or blender jar* in hot water until the  bowl is warm.  Dry thoroughly.

In the warmed jar or bowl, process the egg and yolks for 1 minute.

With the machine running, add the mustard, sea salt and vinegar or lemon juice.

With the machine still running start adding the oil in a stream of droplets, continuing until you have used half the oil and the sauce is very thick.  Do not stop processing until sauce has thickened.  Thin out with lemon juice or vinegar, (add a little bit at a time, up to a tablespoon or more) add the whey in at this time, then continue on with the remainder of the oil.  Season carefully with more salt, pepper and lemon juice or vinegar.

Decant into your storage container (I use a wide-mouthed, pint size jar) and allow to sit on your counter for 6-8 hours to allow the whey to begin the process of lacto-fermentation.  Lid, and store in refrigerator.  Will last 8 weeks or more!

Remedy for Turned Mayonnaise
adapted for blender or food processor use from directions in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

You will never have trouble with freshly made mayonnaise if you have beaten the egg and yolks thoroughly in a warmed bowl before adding the oil, if the oil has been added in droplets until the sauce has commenced to thicken and if you have not exceeded the maximum proportions of 3/4 cup of oil per egg yolk [though Michael Ruhlman has some interesting things to note about mayonnaise in his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking – he contends that it is a basis of the amount of liquid, i.e. lemon juice or vinegar, or even a bit of water, to egg yolks, not oil.  Very interesting!  Okay, back to Julia . . . ].  A mayonnaise has turned when it refuses to thicken or, in a finished mayonnaise, when the oil releases itself from suspension and the sauce curdles.  In either case, the remedy is simple.

Decant turned mayonnaise into a glass measuring cup with a spout that will allow it to be poured gently. Rewash your blender jar or processor bowl and blades in hot water so it will be warm and clean.  Dry thoroughly.  Add 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard and 1 Tablespoon of sauce and process until they cream and thicken together.  Add in the rest of the sauce one teaspoon at a time at first, making sure each addition has thickened the sauce before adding the next.  Add one teaspoonful at a time at first, then gradually by Tablespoonful until all the sauce has been combined.

I admit, about every third batch of mayonnaise I skip a step (like warming the bowl) thinking that I know what I’m doing, and then end up with turned mayonnaise and always have to fix it using these steps.  They always work.

*Note – Julia loved making her mayonnaise in the food processor and despised the blender because the blender makes it harder to decant the mayonnaise.  However, I have an enormous food processor (14 cup or something ridiculous – whatever the largest one that you can buy domestically is, that’s the one I have) and because of it’s large size, I can’t blend those three little egg yolks and one egg white because the blades don’t go quite down to the bottom, so I always make it in my blender.  I’ve tried making it with a hand blender, but it turned and I ended up having to dirty my blender anyway to fix it, so I’ve just made it in the blender ever since.  Since I only make it every six to eight weeks, it’s not a big deal to wash the blender.

This post is written in conjunction with Foodie Friday and Fight Back Friday.

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  31 Responses to “Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise”

  1. Deep breath. Maybe I will try this. Maybe. It just seemed to scary when she talked about it in Julie and Julia (the book, not the movie).

  2. I have 1/2 jars to use up, but dh isn't eating sandwiches right now. I may try this just as an experiment. We're getting pastured eggs from a buying club – I can tell the difference in taste. I bet that using the pastured eggs would make a big difference in the taste.

  3. Thank you for this post! I am going to study it.
    I feel like I have a long way to go to understand this process…but I bet it does taste a lot better!

  4. So in your many variations, have you tried it with the same quantities of the other ingredients but less oil?

    I have one of those wee food processors that'll only hold about a cup, so I'm wondering about the easiest way to decrease the recipe… and I haven't gotten to that section in Ratio yet.

    But this looks pretty reasonable. Thank you for the post.

  5. I don't understand the second addition of the vinegar or lemon juice ("to thin out"). Is this optional?


  6. Thanks for your comments! VanderbiltWife, Barb and Leila – you can do it!

    Livia, I always make this recipe in my blender, and you could also make it by hand in a bowl with a whisk. If you want a smaller recipe to fit your food processor, though, Michael Ruhlman recipe might work. The link is in my post, but here it is as well. I just added a bit of dijon mustard to the mix.

    Skormos – yes, it is purely optional. I find that sometimes I need to add a bit more of the acid liquid (vinegar or lemon juice) toward the end to allow the eggs to absorb all of the oil.

    Thanks everyone!


  7. So interesting. The lack of shelf life has always prevented me from making my own mayo because I would never be able to use it all before it went bad. Can't wait to give this a try.

  8. I've been wanting to try mayo for quite sometime. This post inspired me. I just followed your exact instructions in my blender. It took so long to slowly stream the olive oil it that my mayo was heating up and steam was actually rising from it! It never got super thick, but towards the end I did have to use a spatula to help mixing it because of it being a tad thicker. Since this is my first mayo I'm not sure what it's supposed to taste like, but from the addition of dijon (I used stone ground mustard cuz that's all I had) it seemed to be more 'mustard' tasting than mayo tasting. I added a little more than a tablespoon of whey and it's now sitting out. So the sitting will help it ferment?

  9. I've been making lacto-fermented mayo for a while now, and it gets really FUN when you start messing with the oil. Hehe. Bacon fat mayo? Coconut oil mayo? Black truffle mayo?

    I use the method mentioned in Julie and Julia: whisking the mayo in a bowl over a bowl of warm water AND use Ratio's measurements. Ah, it's a great time to be a cook!

  10. Where you a science major? Or are you a mad scientist now? Whatever the answer, I am so glad I found this post! I love your foodie explainations, and the process of learning you took me through. I was glued to your every word. So well done and informative. ( I love Alton Brown for those reasons- BTW- high compliment to be compared to him) I as going back to find out about whey and if I can get it, I'll make the mayo. I'll call it "Musing Mayo".

  11. Okay- you are an undercover scientist posing as a mom! I just read your whey post and your great dressing post. Now I will make the mayo- I love the added benefit of homemade cream cheese! And I am also a follower- I need to see what else you have up your sleeve or in your kitchen.
    Great blog!

  12. I'm intrigued, but a bit scared. What's the benefit of fermenting this mayo?


  13. I am dumbfounded. Had you asked me at any time before right now if anyone anywhere could write so glowingly about mayonnaise that it would make me want to stop what I was doing and go make some mayo from scratch, I would have answered with a resounding No. Yet, here I am drooling on my keyboard. I absolutely will have to try this! Do you have any idea why warming the container is so important?

  14. I'm bookmarking these tips in case I run into trouble! 😉

    I've made homemade mayo only a couple times. First time…olive oil was too strong *guess I need a better quality of it.

    I immediately made it w/ safflower oil and it was amazing!!

    Now that I have access to farm fresh free-range eggs…I'm ready to try again. Can't wait.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog. I was already a twitter follower. Enjoy your new kitchen!

  15. thanks for the confidence! I made some and linked to you.

  16. […] is a recipe for doing it by hand, here, from the author’s blog.) Next, I’d like to try lacto-fermented mayo. (But first, someone needs to talk my hens into laying again. Seriously, 50 chickens in my pasture, […]

  17. […] it’s made with fresh, raw egg yolks and should be used within 4-5 days of being made. Some folks ferment their mayo by adding a little bit of whey and swear it stays fresh for weeks. We haven’t tried this route […]

  18. […] it’s made with fresh, raw egg yolks and should be used within 4-5 days of being made. Some folksferment their mayo by adding a little bit of whey and swear it stays fresh for weeks. We haven’t tried this route […]

  19. […] TBSP mayo (I recommend homemade – here is a great […]

  20. I’ve used a very-similar recipe like this for a couple of years now – except for the laborious clean-up of the food processor, it was a semi-success – I didn’t have alot of patience with the slow-drip method, and it usually failed. However, after viewing a Youtube video of a fella using an immersion blender in a 1 qt. wide-mouth jar, I am HOOKED! Out of probably 12 tries, I have only had one “failure” and only because I didn’t let it sit before blending long enough to separate. Same ingredients – just let them sit for an hour or so until the oil has separated. Put the immersion blender all the way to the BOTTOM of the jar and begin with short pulses at a low speed. You’ll soon see the white cloud of mayonnaise rising up from the bottom. When most of it is white, you can move the blender up and down to finish blending in the rest of the oil. And nothing to clean except the immersion blender attachment.

  21. Great tips! I’ve been making lacto-fermented mayonnaise for a few months now, but the advice I got was to add the whey last. Doesn’t work, it thins it out too much. So I’m going to add it halfway through as you advise.

    I use only yolks, though, no whites, to avoid avidin issues and others in raw egg whites. I save the whites, cook them, and feed them back to the chickens for a protein boost. It’s their favorite treat!

  22. Also, the immersion blender works great for me. My full-size blender is a Vita-Mix, which is really tall, and I’m sure it would be tough to get the mayonnaise out. I don’t like to lose a drop! I can blend a small batch right in the jar I’ll store it in, works great. My hand does tend to go numb, though!

  23. […] roasted or steamed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Growing up, I always dipped them in mayonnaise (which I don’t hesitate to admit, I still enjoy!) but now that I’m older I tend to like […]

  24. I’ve done this recipe a couple times but I tweak it, for some reason it has a bitter taste! I always add in a touch of vinegar and lemon at the end and a bit of honey. In theory the honey will be consumed by the fermentation process, it just removes that bitter taste. I only use 1 cup EVOO to the recipe because the vitamix mixes it so well it doesnt need that much oil, and it muttles the strong EVOO smell/taste.

    It lasts 8 wks in the refridgerator, which is 8 times longer than without the whey!! hurray for whey!!

  25. Hi! I’m just finding this post. I would LOVE to try making my own mayonaise! How can I make it dairy-free? We have a child with severe anaphylaxis to dairy. If you have an alternate ingredient for the whey, please email me!

    • Hi Erin!

      You can absolutely leave the whey out, the original mayonnaise recipe does not include whey, but then it will only last about a week to ten days in the fridge, as it won’t be lacto-fermented. Just follow the recipe, make only what you’ll use, and leave the whey out and you will be set! Good luck!


  26. What brand of olive oil do you use? I’m trying to find one that doesn’t give the mayo a bitter taste.

    • Hi Heather!

      I generally buy a Cold-Pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I prefer the flavor of the cold-pressed to any other variety, plus it’s raw so it keeps a lot of the good vitamins and minerals from the olives as it hasn’t been heat-treated. I generally either buy the Kirkland variety from Costco or one from Trader Joe’s – nothing fancy!:) I do favor “Cold Pressed” over “organic” though, if that is decision. Hope this helps!


  27. Wow! I just found you after following a blog rabbit trail. I am out of town with my husband on business, staying in a hotel. I have been hungry for something to make that can be made here in our hotel room. I am heading out now to get the supplies to make whey and cream cheese. When back home this weekend I can then make mayo! Thanks for the healthy inspiration. I am now a new follower.

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