Brown Bag Lunch Recipe: Better Than Hellman’s Mayonnaise

published Nov 16, 2006
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Mayonnaise is a main part of many lunches: tuna salad, salad dressings, turkey sandwiches and more. British food writer Elizabeth David called mayonnaise “the beautiful shining golden ointment.”

While I’ve made mayonnaise a few times, I’ll admit that for a potato salad or a smear on a sandwich, I’ve relied on Hellmann’s mayonnaise, known as Best Foods in the West.

A few months ago, though, I opened a new jar of Hellmann’s, stuck my finger into the bit of mayo clinging to the lid and took a taste. Yuck, the familiar flavor was gone. This Hellmann’s tasted sweeter with a chemically tangy aftertaste just like dreaded Miracle Whip.

I found many recent complaints about Hellmann’s, but they were about a recent price increase coupled with a product size decrease, not a change in flavor. Isn’t it frustrating that more people comment on the change in price than the change in flavor?

I emailed Hellmann’s, owned by Unilever, to find out more. “Yes, we have changed the formula of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise,” they said.

That sent me right into the kitchen. Without my reliable Hellmann’s, I’m working on mastering my own mayonnaise. Sara Kate suggested I start with this basic mayonnaise recipe from The French Culinary Institute.

Homemade Mayonnaise

From the French Culinary Institute

2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
pinch salt
pinch freshly ground white pepper
2 cups olive oil

All ingredients need to be at room temperature, or else the sauce will break down. Combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl and stir with a whisk. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking. Whisk increasingly faster until it takes the thick consistency of mayonnaise.

I’ve been practicing making mayonnaise, a lesson in whisking and patience. I cheated a few times and used the food processor, even though Elizabeth David warns against that.

→ The immersion blender method: How To Make Mayonnaise with an Immersion Blender

So far my mayonnaise isn’t quite right, not as thick as what eGullet has made. I’m also shopping for better quality vinegar and experimenting with blends of olive and canola oil to improve the flavor.

Any advice for a guy recovering from Hellmann’s?