A simple emulsion of oil, egg yolks, and lemon juice or vinegar, mayonnaise is one of the classic French sauces. To make mayonnaise, for each egg yolk, use 1 tablespoon lemon juice, half teaspoon salt, and half cup oil. Using a whisk or food processor, beat together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and salt. While whisking constantly, or with the food processor running, blend in the oil drop by drop at first, then in a thin steady stream until blended and thick.
To make very thick mayonnaise, whisk lemon juice into the egg yolks and freeze for at least 8 hours before making the mayonnaise. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before using. Freezing thickens the yolks, helping to make a thicker mayonnaise. You can also add salt to the egg yolks.
To ensure that mayonnaise forms an emulsion, have all the ingredients at room temperature, and include a powdered ingredient, such as ground red pepper or powdered mustard. Also, be sure to begin by adding the oil one drop at a time, then in a thin, steady stream.
To make mayonnaise that won't separate, use refined vegetable oil, such as corn, canola, olive, or peanut oil. Unrefined oils, such as extra-virgin olive oil, tend to separate after a day or two.
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