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Standard ingredients and tools to make mayonnaise.

Mayonnaise (sometimes abbreviated to mayo) is a stable emulsion of oil, and vinegar or lemon juice, with many options for embellishment with other herbs and spices. Egg yolk is the traditional emulsifier. It is often cream in color, and may be anything in texture from that of light running cream to thick. In countries influenced by France, mustard is also a common ingredient[1], whereas in Spain it is made using the same ingredients, but specifically olive oil as the oil, and never with mustard. Numerous other sauces can be created from it with addition of various herbs, spices, and finely chopped pickles. Where mustard is used it is also an emulsifier[2][3].



The most probable origin of mayonnaise is that the recipe was brought back to France from the town of Mahon in Menorca, after Louis-François-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu's victory over the British at the city's port in 1756. According to this version, the sauce was originally known as salsa mahonesa (as it is still known on Menorca), later becoming mayonnaise as it was popularized by the French.[4]

The French Larousse Gastronomique 1961 suggests: "Mayonnaise, in our view, is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg."[5] The sauce may have been christened mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, because he took the time to finish his meal of chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques[citation needed].

Nineteenth-century culinary writer Pierre Lacam suggested that in 1459, a London woman named Annamarie Turcauht stumbled upon this condiment after trying to create a custard of some sort.[6]

According to Trutter et al.: "It is highly probable that wherever olive oil existed, a simple preparation of oil and egg came about – particularly in the Mediterranean region, where aioli (oil and garlic) is made."[4]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mayonnaise made its English language debut in a cookbook of 1841.

Making mayonnaise

Mayonnaise can be made by hand with a mortar and pestle, whisk or fork, or with the aid of an electric mixer, an electric blender, or a food processor. Mayonnaise is made by slowly adding oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in yolks form a base of the emulsion, while the lecithin from the yolks is the emulsifier that stabilizes it. Additionally, a bit of a mustard may also be added to sharpen its taste, and further stabilize the emulsion. Mustard contains small amounts of lecithin.[7] It is a process that requires watching; if the liquid starts to separate and look like pack-ice, or curd, it simply requires starting again with an egg yolk, whisk it, slowly add the curd while whisking, and it will emulsify to be mayonnaise.


Traditional recipe

A classic European recipe is essentially the same as the basic one described above, but it uses top-quality olive oil with vinegar or lemon juice. It is essential to beat the mayonnaise using a whisk while adding the olive oil a little, eg a teaspoon at a time, then it is possile to add the oil more quickly briskly whisking to incorporate the oil into the emulsion. If there are two people in the kitchen, one person can slowly pour the oil while the other does the whisking. Experienced cooks can judge when the mayonnaise is done by the emulsion's resistance to the beating action. Herbs and spices can be added at any stage and the vinegar may have already been infused with sprigs of French tarragon, or the oil may have been infused with garlic to make the variation on mayonnaise called aioli.


Homemade mayonnaise can approach 85% fat before the emulsion breaks down; commercial mayonnaises are more typically 70-80% fat. "Low fat" mayonnaise products contain starches, cellulose gel, or other ingredients to simulate the texture of real mayonnaise.

Some homemade recipes use the whole egg, including the white. It can also be made using solely egg whites, with no yolks at all, if it is done at high speed in a food processor. The resulting texture appears to be the same, and—if seasoned, for example, with salt, pepper, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and a little paprika—the taste is similar to traditional mayonnaise made with egg yolks.[citation needed].

Commercial producers either pasteurize the yolks, freeze them and substitute water for most of their liquid, or use other emulsifiers.

For homemade mayonnaise it is best to use the freshest eggs possible. Fresh eggs retain the qualities of a living organism including having, or recently have had, an active immune system. Mayonnaise made only from egg yolk and oil will generally only keep under refrigeration for three to four days. Mayonnnaise made at home to have the rich complexity of extra virgin olive oil, yolks from fresh eggs, fresh garden herbs, and vinegar and/or lemon juice is essentially a liquid pickle and can be kept for much longer, especially with refrigeration.

Mayonnaise, due to the addition of acids like vinegar or lemon juice, has a pH between 3.8 and 4.6, making it an acidic food. There is a misconception that foods like potato salad can make a person sick if left out in the sun, due to the mayonnaise spoiling. This is false; the pH of mayonnaise prevents harmful bacteria from growing in it. Left out of refrigeration, mayonnaise will develop an unappetizing taste and smell, due to other types of bacteria and molds that can spoil it, but will not make one sick.[8][9][10]

Use of Mayonnaise

Worldwide, mayonnaise is commonly served in a sandwich, or with salad such as potato salad or canned tuna ("tuna mayo" or tuna salad). Regional uses are listed below:


In Western Europe, mayonnaise is often served with pommes frites (French fries or chips), especially in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It is also served with cold chicken or hard-boiled eggs in France, the UK, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

Guidelines issued in September 1991 by Europe's Federation of the Condiment Sauce Industries recommend that oil and liquid egg yolk levels in mayonnaise should be at least 70% and 5% respectively, although this is not legislated. Most available brands easily exceed this target.[11]

North America

Commercial mayonnaise sold in jars originated in New York City, in Manhattan's Upper West Side. In 1905, the first ready-made mayonnaise was sold by a family from Vetschau, Germany, at Richard Hellmann's delicatessen on Columbus Avenue, between 83rd and 84th Streets. In 1912, Mrs. Hellmann's mayonnaise was mass marketed and called Hellmann's Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise.

At about the same time that Hellmann's Mayonnaise was thriving on the East Coast of the United States, a California company, Best Foods, introduced their own mayonnaise, which turned out to be very popular in the western United States. In 1932, Best Foods bought the Hellmann's brand. By then, both mayonnaises had such commanding market shares in their own half of the country that it was decided that both brands be preserved. The company is now owned by Unilever.

In the Southeastern part of the United States, Mrs. Eugenia Duke of Greenville, South Carolina, founded the Duke Sandwich Company in 1917 to sell sandwiches to soldiers training at nearby Fort Sevier. Her homemade mayonnaise became so popular that her company began to focus exclusively on producing and selling the mayonnaise, eventually selling out to the C.F. Sauer Company of Richmond, Virginia, in 1929. Duke's Mayonnaise, still made to the original recipe, remains a popular brand of mayonnaise in the Southeast, although it is not generally available in other markets.

In Canada, Kraft Foods is the largest purveyor of mayonnaise. In its television advertising it attempts to spread the French pronunciation "my-o-nezz" but this has not caught on with consumers.[citation needed]


Kewpie, a Japanese mayonnaise.

Japanese mayonnaise is typically made with apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar and a small amount of MSG, which gives it a different flavor from mayonnaise made from distilled vinegar. It is most often sold in soft plastic squeeze bottles. Its texture is thinner than most Western commercial mayonnaise. A variety containing karashi (Japanese mustard) is also common.

Apart from salads, it is popular with dishes such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki and yakisoba and may also accompany katsu and karaage. It is sometimes served with cooked vegetables, or mixed with soy sauce or wasabi and used as dips. In the Tōkai region, it is a frequent condiment on hiyashi chuka (cold noodle salad). Many fried seafood dishes are served with a side of mayonnaise for dipping. It is also common in Japan to use mayonnaise on pizza.

Kewpie (Q.P.) is the most popular brand of Japanese mayonnaise, advertised with a Kewpie doll logo.


Mayonnaise is very popular in Russia where it is made with sunflower seed oil which gives it a very distinctive flavor. A 2004 study[citation needed] showed that Russia is the only market in Europe where more mayonnaise is sold than ketchup by volume. It's used as a sauce in the most popular salads in Russia such as Russian Salad [oliv'e] and Dressed Herring and also many others. Leading brands are Calve (marketed by Unilever) and Sloboda (marketed by Efko).

Furthermore, in many Russian speaking countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.), one can find different commercial flavors of mayonnaise, such as olive, quail-egg, and lemon.


Chile is the world's third major per capita consumer of mayonnaise and first in Latin America. Since mayonnaise became widely accessible in the 1980s[citation needed] Chileans have used it on locos, hot dogs, French fries, and on boiled chopped potatoes, a salad commonly known as papas mayo.


The climate and availability of fresh produce in Australia makes it common for mayonnaise to be made at home from fresh ingredients.[citation needed] When purchased premade it often contains sucrose and corn sugar balanced against E330 (citric acid), with various use of thickeners, emulsifiers, EDTA, flavor enhancers, and water. Such cocktails allow for the production of products which are low in fats and/or sugars.

Premade good quality mayonnaise is also readily available with labels like "real mayonnaise" and "whole egg mayonnaise". A quick check of the ingredients will indicate any use of additives not available to the average cook.

Mayonnaise is a common accompaniment to french fries and potato wedges, as is tomato sauce, and tartare sauce.

A variation on mayonnaise is aioli where one of the key flavours is fresh garlic.

Tartare sauce is available in most places selling fresh fish, and is mayonnaise with finely chopped pickled capers.

One old recipe, common in the 1950s, was something going under the name of "mayonnaise", and was made from sweetened condensed milk with vinegar, mustard, and salt.

As a base for other sauces

Mayonnaise is the base for many other chilled sauces and salad dressings. For example:

  • Fry sauce is a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup or another red sauce (e.g., Tabasco sauce, Buffalo wing sauce, or one of many smokey barbecue sauces popular in the Northwestern United States), spices, and sometimes a strong tasting salty liquid (such as worcestershire or soy sauce) is added to balance out the sweeter red sauces. Commonly eaten on french fries in Utah, Idaho, eastern Washington and rural Oregon.
  • Marie Rose sauce combines mayonnaise with tomato sauce or ketchup, cream, flavorings and brandy. In North America, a processed version of Marie-Rose, called "Russian Dressing" sometimes uses mayonnaise as a base. However, most homemade varieties and nearly all commercial brands of "Russian dressing" use little or no mayonnaise as a base. They are very dark red and sweet dressings made with vegetable oil, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and a variety of herbs and spices (often including mustard).
  • Ranch dressing is made of buttermilk or sour cream, mayonnaise, and minced green onion, along with other seasonings.
  • Rouille is aïoli with added saffron, red pepper or paprika.
  • Salsa golf created in Argentina is Mayonnaise with ketchup as well as spices such as red pepper or oregano.
  • Sauce rémoulade, in classic French cuisine is mayonnaise to which has been added mustard, gherkins, capers, parsley, chervil, tarragon, and possibly anchovy essence.[12] An industrially made variety is popular in Denmark with french fries and fried fish. It is quite different from most of the remoulade sauces that are frequently found in Louisiana and generally do not have a mayonnaise base.
  • Tartar sauce is mayonnaise spiced with pickled cucumbers and onion. Capers, olives, and crushed hardboiled eggs are sometimes included. A simpler recipe calls for only pickle relish to be added to the mayonnaise.
  • Thousand Island dressing is a salmon-pink dressing that combines tomato sauce and/or tomato ketchup or ketchup-based chili sauce, minced sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish, assorted herbs and spices (usually including mustard), and sometimes including chopped hard-boiled egg—all thoroughly blended into a mayonnaise base.
  • Certain variations of honey mustard are based on mayonnaise and are made by combining mayonnaise with plain mustard, brown sugar, and lemon juice.

See also


  1. ^ "Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil droplets suspended in a base composed of egg whites (no egg yolks), lemon juice or vinegar, water, and often mustard and milk, which provide both flavor and stabilizing particles and carbohydrates." On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee, Scribner, New York, 2004.
  2. ^,125,EX.html
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b M. Trutter et al., Culinaria Spain p. 68 (H.F. Ullmann 2008)
  5. ^ Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, neuvième édition, "3. Anciennt. Le jaune de l'œuf."
  6. ^ The page reference has not been identified; the passage appeared either in Lacam's Mémorial historique et géographie de la pâtisserie (privately printed, Paris 1908), in his Nouveau pâtissier glacier français et étranger (1865) or his Glacier classique et artistique en France et en Italie, (1893)
  7. ^ Good Eats; Season four; Mayo Clinic
  8. ^ Elliott, Debbie. "Happy Birthday, Dear Mayo - We Hold You Dear : NPR". NPR. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Mayonnaise sales in Europe". 2004-04-29. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  12. ^ See, for example, Larousse Gastronomique, 2003, ISBN 0 600 60863 8, page 1054.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also mayonnaise



Mayonnaise f

  1. Alternative spelling of Majonäse; mayonnaise

Simple English

Mayonnaise or Mayo is a thick sauce made with vegetable oil and egg yolk. Some people call it "mayo" as a shortened name.


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