Make or Buy? Mayonnaise

A jar of Hellman's, or similar squat blue-topped jar, is requisite for all summer picnic tables. Mayonnaise gets slathered on hamburger buns, stirred into potato salad, or made into a quick dip right there on the spot. Do you ever think about setting the jar aside and making mayo yourself?

For purposes of comparison, we'll use a 30 oz jar of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise. And for the homemade recipe, we'll use The Kitchn's own method. All costs were taken from Peapod Online Grocery unless otherwise noted.

Peapod Online Grocery
Homemade Mayonnaise

COST BREAKDOWN

Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
TOTAL: $4.79
PER SERVING (1 Tablespoon): $0.08

Homemade Mayonnaise
Makes about 1/2 cup

1 egg yolk: $0.19
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice: $0.34
1/4 teaspoon salt: $0.01
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard: $0.13*
1/2 cup canola oil: $0.59

TOTAL: $1.26*
PER SERVING (1 Tablespoon): $0.16

* Updated 7/15/11 after a miscalculation of the cost of the mustard

TIME BREAKDOWN

Hellman's Real Mayonnaise: 0 Minutes
Homemade Mayonnaise: About 5 minutes

CONVENIENCE

Mayo has an undeserved reputation for being finicky, for separating on a whim, and for being generally hard to get right. It's just one of those things that requires a few trial efforts. Once you get a feel for it, making a batch of mayonnaise is really no harder than whipping up a salad dressing

Making a batch also requires very little forethought and the mayo will keep refrigerated for two weeks. Depending on how much mayo you go through in your house, whipping up a 1/2 cup of mayo could be a daily event or it could last you its entire 2-week shelf life.

I'm going to go ahead and say that mayo is a surprisingly easy and "convenient" condiment to make yourself.

TASTINESS AND HEALTHFULNESS

I love that homemade mayo is just five ingredients. Store-bought mayo is surprisingly un-processed, but it still contains some preservatives and more other ingredients than are necessary (I'm glad it contains real eggs, but sugar?!). With homemade, we know that the eggs are top-quality, we can choose the type of oil being used, and we know it's fresh.

Homemade mayo wins in taste, as well. The real stuff is creamy and rich, with a natural tanginess. By comparison, store-bought often tastes like a watery imitation.

MAKE OR BUY?

This one is going to depend on how much you use mayo, I think. In our house, we don't go through mayo very quickly at all and a homemade batch would inevitably go bad before we use it all. It makes more sense for us to keep a jar of store-bought in the fridge for sandwiches and quick batches of tunafish, and then make homemade for special occasions or mayo-intensive recipes like potato salad.

The cost was a big surprise to me. This is one of the few foods in this series where the homemade cost was actually more expensive than the store-bought. Those of you who make your own mayo, is the cost an issue for you?

VERDICT? Make it if your household goes through a lot of mayo; otherwise, save the homemade for special occasions.

What do you think?

Related: Make or Buy? Yogurt

(Images: Peapod and Faith Durand)