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.