Having spent a couple months visiting the French Caribbean Islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Barthélémy’s, and St Martin, my wife and I were super impressed with their food. One of the condiments that came with many dishes was homemade mayonnaise. This emulsification (the process of turning liquid oil into a creamy substance) comes from mixing egg, oil, mustard, and vinegar together in a lovely chemistry experiment.
When using a stick blender, this recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare.
The challenge is that store-bought mayonnaise is typically loaded with chemicals. I was surprised to see during an online search that there is a debate as to which is healthier…….homemade versus commercial mayo.
I have avoided store-bought mayo because it is packed with chemicals and gut irritants, and it does not taste nearly as delicious as homemade mayonnaise. In addition to the additives that allow mayo to be stored in your refrigerator for up to one year, it is usually made with damaged, refined oils and from eggs that were fed pesticides and antibiotics.
As flavorful as a homemade mayonnaise recipe can be, without the chemicals the mayonnaise can only be stored for a couple of days, plus even with healthy oils and pasture-raised chicken eggs, you have to weigh that with the small health risks that might apply to you from salmonella bacteria.
Warning⚠️ Consuming raw eggs, like raw seafood, has some rare risk for gastrointestinal problems, especially for people with compromised immune systems. You see this warming all the time when eating in a restaurant, and people are left to make their own decision.
So if you are making homemade mayonnaise with a raw egg, you have the option to buy pasteurized eggs that reduce the risk of salmonella.
The reality is that the salmonella comes from chicken poop, and chicken eggs that were raised in a cage with their poop have a much higher risk of carrying salmonella than pasture-raised chickens—and the chickens in the pasture are much happier as well. This is a good reason to insist on buying pasture-raised chicken eggs, and pasture-raised is better than cage-free, as cage-free might mean a bunch of chickens were raised indoors shoulder-to-shoulder with other chickens and their poop.
Should you wash your eggs to clean them? This can worsen the problem by pulling bacteria through the shell’s tiny pores. If you must rinse them, do so with 90 degree (F) water and only briefly—never soak your eggs in water—best is to avoid washing your eggs which retains a mucous (called a bloom) on the outer shell that protects the eggs from bacteria.
Hence in Europe, they often sell pasture-raised eggs that are unwashed and unrefrigerated, while in the US most eggs are produced in giant buildings with cages and the eggs are pasteurized and refrigerated.
Here is what the CDC says about using raw eggs:
- Consider buying and using pasteurized eggs
- Keep eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or colder at all times.
- Only buy eggs from stores and suppliers that keep them refrigerated.
- Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
In the end, you have to decide if the risk from chemicals or rare risk for bacteria is worse for you, or skip mayonnaise altogether. If you have major health problems, check with your own physician to see if homemade mayonnaise might be appropriate for you, and/or use pasteurized eggs.
Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe:
Prep Time: 7-10 minutes
1/2 cup organic sunflower, safflower, or grapeseed oil (preferably from a glass container, not plastic)
1 whole organically-fed, pasture-raised egg
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp sea salt
Blend with a stick blender, starting over the egg yolk until the mixture is smooth. This technique seems to work every time. Flavor with fresh herbs as you like.
If using a food processor, which is a bit more challenging, blend the whole egg with mustard and vinegar, then slowly pour in the oil while the blender is running and blend in salt afterward.
Optionally at the end of the process, stir in a dash of fresh herbs (parsley, basil, garlic, or a dash of lemon juice)
Keep refrigerated and consume within three days.
To Your Health,
Steven Masley, MD
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