August 27

Safe Eggs and Egg Safety

17  comments

eggs

A reader wrote, regarding the previous post on Summer-Safe Slaw, inquiring why dishes prepared with mayonnaise wouldn’t be safe in the summer. The short response, of course, is because of risk of bacterial food poisoning from Salmonella, if the dish isn’t kept out of the danger zone for bacterial growth–i.e., chilled below 45 degrees F or warmed above 140 degrees F. But that’s only part of the story.

The reader’s point, and one I have often pondered, was why do people keep beating the drum of mayonnaise risk in the summer, since nowadays commercial mayonnaise products are pasteurized to kill bacteria and therefore, should be free of Salmonella risk. And she’s absolutely correct. Though you’ll never see Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee or anybody else on food tv (except maybe Mike and me) prepare a mayonnaise-free tuna salad without mentioning that it will be safe for a picnic, because it contains no mayo, the proscription against mayonnaise in foods at summer picnics is a hold-over from the time when there was no commercially prepared, fully pasteurized mayonnaise in jars at stores.

But as readers of this blog and those familiar with our books will know, when I say mayonnaise, I don’t usually mean what comes from a jar. Virtually all commercial mayonnaise products are made with soybean oil and other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or canola oil that contain trans fats, making them a less than healthy condiment. For that reason, we have long advocated that our readers return to old ways, by making homemade mayonnaise, since only then can you control the kind and quality of ingredients–especially the oils–that go into it.

Thus, my reference to Summer-Safe Slaw in the previous post; in my world, a mayonnaise slaw dressing would be made with homemade mayo, which is made with a raw egg. Though it may sound a bit daunting, making mayonnaise is really a near no-brainer, especially if you use the blender to do it.

Here’s the easy method we use:

Into the blender jar, place 1 large egg yolk, the juice of half a lemon, 2 teaspoons of white or Champagne vinegar, a dash of salt, a dash of white pepper, and blend briefly. If you’re a Miracle Whip fan, add 1/4 to 1/2 packet of sweetener as well. With the motor running, slowly drizzle about 3/4 to 1 cup of light olive oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, or macadamia nut oil, blending until… Voila! Mayonnaise.

Delicious, healthy, thick, real mayonnaise.

(A word of advice: don’t use intensely flavored (expensive) extra virgin olive oil in the blender. For reasons, unknown, it will turn bitter and you’ll throw the whole batch out. If you want to use really flavorful, quality olive oil–EVOO as Rachael would say–limber up your arm and use a whisk to make it.)

The recipe will make about a cup or a little less, which may be just what you need to make a big batch of chicken salad, tuna salad, or mayo slaw dressing for a crowd of folks. However, if you don’t need the whole batch for a recipe, just put it into a clean, sterile jar (pour boiling water into the jar and let it sit while making the mayo) with a tight-fitting lid, write the date on it and put it in your fridge to use for the next week or so. If you do need the full batch for a recipe, you may want to make a double batch, so that you can store half for later use, since it doesn’t take any more time to make a double than a single batch and you’ll have only one clean up.

The only danger in homemade mayo (other than the emulsion breaking, which is a bummer) is if you happen to have used that 1 in 20,000 eggs that is contaminated with Salmonella. This uncommon, but real, possibility could result in an even bigger bummer–bringing something to the picnic that folks would remember for decades: food poisoning.

You can eliminate that risk by using pasteurized shell eggs. They’re a great choice for making mayonnaise and for any recipes that call for using raw eggs–such as uncooked egg nog, snow ice cream, Caesar salad dressing, raw egg protein shakes, poultry stuffing.

According to Davidson Safe Eggs, the leader in the industry, pasteurizing shell eggs requires a prolonged bath in warm water sufficient for the yolk to reach 128 to 138.5 degrees F, which will kill the Salmonella bacteria on the shell or in the egg proper. The trick is to reach the minimum safe internal temperature without cooking the egg, leaving a finished product that looks, acts, and tastes like a raw egg, but without the associated risk. Each treated egg receives a pasteurization stamp (a red P inside a circle) to differentiate it from its unpasteurized brethren and sisteren. You’ll find cartons of them alongside the regular eggs at most grocery stores. albeit at a slightly higher cost. For raw egg dishes, such as mayo, the extra expense is worth it.

Because the incredible edible egg constitutes such an important part of a healthy low carb diet, it behooves those of us who eat a lot of them to learn to handle them safely. For more tips, click here.


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  1. Dear Dr. Mary Dan,

    My complaint with conventional mayonnaise is the high level of omega sixes associated with the soy based oils they use.

    Using olive oil moves the lipid profile away from the sixes over to the more neutral nines. However, I could never reproduce the taste of Helmanns using olive oil or mixes of olive oil and other oils like coconut and canola.

    You mentioned avocado oil in your blog and although I have never made mayonnaise with avocado oil, I would like to mention a terrific product – it’s Pacifica Culinaria Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. Available from thinkavocado.com and netrition.com. It’s as good or better than Helmanns and avocado oil has almost the identical lipid profile of olive oil.

    I enjoy your blog.  Philip Thackray

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  You make a point I should have made about the 6s, which is quite true.  Thanks for reminding me.  Although I have heard of it,  I had forgotten that avocado mayo exists commercially.  Making your own from avocado oil is a snap as well, maybe not quite as easy as lifting it off the shelf and unscrewing the lid, but just as tasty.

  2. I have been tempted to try making my own….but would have used more expensive olive oil!!

    I’d also like to make my own Caesar dressing….with anchovy paste. I don’t have your books handy (moving, they’re packed), is there a recipe in one?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Save that expensive stuff for using straight, when the flavor and richness and color matter. It’s a crying shame to ruin good expensive EVOO. And yes, the recipe (that’s in our Low Carb Comfort Food Cookbook)) for Caesar dressing is very easy.  How ’bout I put it up on a real blog so that more people will see it?

  3. In Thin So Fast Dr. Mike mentioned immersing a raw egg in boiling water for 30 seconds to kill salmonella on a shell with no cracks. Is this still a recommended approach?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Yes, it will work, but it’s carries the chance of going a little too far and cooking the whites or not quite far enough and not get a completely through and through kill of bacteria. It’s safer than using totally unprepped raw eggs, one supposes.

  4. Its not just the mayo in mayonaise based products that makes them dangerous when left out for long periods of time un refridgerated. If I remember correctly from food safety sanitation classes, its the combination of the higher protein components of the mayo (even pasturized ones), the tempurature, and the presence of samonella or other bacteria from another source like: chicken in chicken salad or chopped vegetables that have been grown in contact with the ground (potatoes, celery, cabbage are just two examples). There are still many modern day examples of food poisoning traced to bad potato salad, or chicken salad, or deviled eggs despite the pasturization of mayo.

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Absolutely true, plenty of food poisoning still occurs (I’ve had it myself from a chicken chef salad that had no mayo on it at all) but one can’t really blame the mayo for Campylobacter or Salmonella brought in on the chicken or eggs or veggies.  And one wouldn’t think that with known potential bacterial contamination from those other sources that chicken or potato salad dressed with olive oil would be any safer than dressed with mayo.  Right?  And yet one never fails to hear the mayo indicted as the culprit.  Downright unfair, I say.

  5. Could you please give your opinion on coconut oil mayo? Thanks!

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  I have to say I’ve never tried it, since coconut oil tends to solidify a coolish room temperatures, I’ve never tried making mayo from it myself and didn’t know it was commercially available.  From a fat profile standpoint, coconut oil is dandy, with lots of lauric acid to support the immune system.

  6. I’ve been making my own mayo with light olive oil for a couple of months now and I love it. I’d never go back to store-bought.

  7. Thanks for the tempting recipe, and especially the smaller batch! I’m so excited to try it. Most recipes use 2 yolks and one whole egg, making a 2 Cup batch- way too much for me to use “in time”. It languishes in the fridge for days, because I can’t remember when I made it.

    I usually make mayo the old-fashioned way (trusty whisk), and have used EVOO, mac nut oil, and avocado oil… but only get great results when the oil is fresh. I’ve thrown out entire batches because I neglected to taste the oil first. Expensive mistakes… taste your oil first!

    Bertolli light olive oil produces excellent results (especially if one is not fond of the heavier taste of extra virgin in a mayo), but my favorite is Avocado oil. It’s green and it’s yummy.

    I can not find “virgin” olive oil anywhere. I can find the Extra Virgin, “light”, and “classico”, but nobody knows where to get regular old virgin.

    We do keep a jar of Helmann’s handy though… gets us through those crazy days when we need a tiny bit but just don’t have the time to cook from scratch.

  8. Never heard of mayo that uses partially hydrogenated fats. Soybean oil yes, but not PH. We’re trying to avoid the soy oil as much as possible so are learning to make mayo. My first effort was using evoo and, yes, it was horribly bitter. I’d love to know why the evoo turns bitter. I made it in the blender so maybe using a whisk is a kinder gentler, less bitter-making, method.

    I used Safflower oil with good results, but I don’t know if the lipid profile is better than canola, sunflower, avocado, grapeseed, etc…

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  I suspect virtually every common commercially available mayo contains partial hydrogenates. Soybean oil isn’t free of partially hydrogenated fats, in fact I seem to remember a statistic that 70% of soybean oil was partially hydrogenated whether it said so on the label or not, and virtually any vegetable oil used commercially is stabilized that way (by being partially hydrogenated).

  9. I believe it was the “Hampton’s Diet” (Pescatore??) who also advocated against using Canola oil for the same reasons (processed= trans) as not using soybean oil.

    Dr. MD, I’d be interested in your view of using expeller pressed Sunflower seed oil? That was the oil recommended by Fallon/Enig in “Nourishing Traditions” for making Mayo.

    Also, Fallon says that adding two tablespoons of Whey will increase the shelf life of the Mayo by weeks instead of days.

    Haven’t tried it yet (‘cultured’ mayo?), but I’m intrigued.

    I’d be very thankful for your take on that.

    Comment from MD Eades:  Sorry to be so long, but you comment just sort of posted all by itself for some reason instead of going into my moderation queue for comments.  I only just saw it up tonight.  As to the questions: I would bow to Mary Enig on any question of trans fats.  If expeller pressed sunflower oil is good enough for her, it should be good enough for me.  For my part, I really like the olive oil taste most of the time.  For sweeter applications, such as, say, poppyseed dressing for fruit, the sunflower might be a good option.  I sort of like macadamia nut oil or walnut oil for that, though.  As to the whey in mayo, was Sally Fallon talking about dried whey powder?  Interesting; I’ll have to look into it.

  10. I don’t know if you can get it in America, but I have never tasted better mayonnaise (after much experimentation) than the most recent made using extra virgin, cold-pressed, organic Brazil Nut Oil, it was amazing. I also pasteurise the egg, vinegar, lemon and water mixture in a double boiler and using a special thermometer. I found explicit instructions on line from a UK health and food safety site and it works like a charm. I decied to pasteurise because I cook for my 90 year old Father-in-Law and heard that for the aged one should not serve raw egg yolks.

    Thanks for your blog, I have just found it(link from Mike’s) and there is so much interesting info on food. Glenice

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Glad you enjoy it.  Thanks for the tip on the Brazil nut oil; it sounds interesting.  I haven’t seen it in any of my stores, but I’ll keep an eye out and give it a try.

  11. Your comment about using EVOO in the blender is interesting; do you find the same effect when using a food processer? I’ve done so a number of times, and there is a bitter component to the taste (of course there’s a bitter aspect to EVVO tasted strait, to different degrees with different varieties)–but it must not be the same thing you’re talking about, because the EVVO mayo I’ve made is extremely good in some (very limited) applications.

    But what’s this I keep hearing about not using the “expensive stuff” in reference to EVVO? In my grocery stores, the light olive oil is just as expensive (or more so as a practical matter, since it usually doesn’t come in giant cans). Thanks for the intersting post.

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  The ‘light olive oil’ in my store is on the order of $6 or $8 for 12 to 16 oz.  The really really good stuff can be $25 or $35 or more for that much.  That’s not to say that you can’t get perfectly good EVOO at substantially less, only that you might not want to waste it making mayo and risk a bitter batch.  I’ve never tried making it in the food processor, but I would suspect that a whirring steel blade is a whirring steel blade, whatever the container it whirs in.  And you’re right in noting that some EVOOs have a bitterness to them from the get go.  Some are quite fruity, others slightly nutty, some almost sweet.  The bitterness, which doesn’t always occur when making the mayo, may very well be a consequence of sort of concentrating the bitter quality when it’s present in the oil.  When it does occur and is pronounced, however, it’s positively inedible…to me, at least.

  12. One has to wonder what goodness is removed, and what badness is inserted, when olive oil is converted to “light olive oil”.

    Might be the same deodorizing process that accidentally hydrogenates canola oil. I’ve been avoiding the “light” olive oils for that reason. What are the odds that they don’t use the worst, chemically-extracted oil for that?

    Scary!
    COMMENT from MD EADES: Perhaps but from what I have read, the ‘light’ designation in olive oil merely refers to its flavor, not it’s fat content. Like different wine varietals, some olive oils are naturally more robust and aggressive in flavor and some milder. It think (but don’t know for absolute certain) that the light designation just means a very mildly flavored oil.

  13. Great info about the pasturized eggs! I’ve try homemade mayo in the past but shied away from it because it’s made from raw eggs. What a great idea!

  14. Hello Mary Dan,
    The information that you posed was extremrly interesting I wanted to know your view of these pasteurized eggs mixed with a protein drink as a workout/protein shake?

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I’m all about it. We even talk about that very thing in our upcoming book, so you’re way ahead of the game!

  15. When will you release the book?

    COMMENT from MD EADES: If you mean our next book, the 6-Week Cure for the Middle Aged Middle, the publisher (Crown Publishing) has moved the release date to next September from this March, when it was originally slated to come out. It’s not up to us, but to the publisher when they release it and they’ve decided to wait until then.

  16. Hello Mary, Dan,

    I’m not sure if this this thread is still active but I was wondering about the risks of salmonella using raw eggs. Unfortunately I was not able to find pasteurized eggs at my local grocery store and so I am left with either buying mayonnaise or using raw unpasteurized eggs. The best mayonnaise I could find was made with canola oil which obviously is high in O6’s. What would you recommend I use?

    COMMENT from MD EADES: If you can’t find eggs pasturized in the shell, you can make them a bit safer by giving them a dunk for about 30 seconds in just off the boil water. Or, if you happen to have a home sous vide machine, you can pasteurize them that way.

  17. Thanks so much for the reply! Also, do you know if storing the mayo for a few days is an issue in terms of oxidized cholesterol? It would certainly be convenient to make a huge batch but I guess the maximum storage life of mayo is only a few days regardless of the cholesterol? Thanks!

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I usually make mine in small batches — about a cup or so of mayo — unless I am making it to use for some recipe that calls for at least that much and then I might make a double batch to have some on hand. If the eggs I use to make it are pasteurized, I will keep it in the refrigerator in a glass jar with a screw-type lid for up to a week. If the eggs aren’t pasteurized, then I would probably shorten that storage time to a couple of days. Because plastic is permeable to oxygen, keeping the mayo in a glass jar is a better option.

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