Broken emulsion? Brokenhearted.
September 7, 2010 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Help! My mayonnaise broke!

I tried making mayonnaise for the first time two nights ago. Maybe not pure mayo, but close enough. I followed the recipe from Charcuterie, and it seemed to work just fine. It was a little thin, but definitely recognizable as mayo. Also, tasty (I added some roasted garlic and oregano during the mixing).

I put it in a glass jar with a metal lid (which I'd boiled to sterilize, then let cool to room temp), then put it in the fridge. Then, last night, I took it out to prepare sandwiches for today, but the emulsion seemed to have broken. It was just liquid, no cohesion whatsoever.

Any ideas on what I did wrong? I felt pretty snazzy being able to make it on my own, and would like to try again. On the other hand, I don't want to have another mistake like that, and have to toss the results again.

Bonus question: store bought mayo lasts for months, but most likely has a ton of preservatives. How long would homemade mayo last for? Should it be used by the expiration date of the egg?
posted by Ghidorah to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Whisk together another egg yolk, and a little vinegar or lemon juice. Pour your broken mayo in slowly, and keep whisking away. That should bring it back together.
I generally only make mayonnaise or aioli for a single use, but you can probably keep it for a week or so in the fridge. [Standard legal liability mumbo-jumbo about uncooked eggs, etc.]
posted by Gilbert at 8:52 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

"How long would homemade mayo last for?"

I wouldn't trust it for more than 24 hours. The nice thing about making it home-made is that you prepare it as needed. I don't think you'd typically want to "make extra."

But, as for what you've got, you could add a little bit of luke-warm water and try whisking again.

"Should it be used by the expiration date of the egg?"

Absolutely. That's all mayo is -- egg and oil. Like you said, you aren't adding any preservatives. That's why it's so yummy!
posted by bardic at 8:52 PM on September 7, 2010

I'm pretty sure the expiry date on the egg is only for an egg in shell. All bets are off after its cracked. I would think anything after a day or so would be sketchy.
posted by saradarlin at 9:03 PM on September 7, 2010

Best answer: I make mayonnaise all the time -- Gilbert's method will fix yours. A little mustard can help hold the emulsion together, and if you have a hand blender you might find that makes your life easier.

Homemade mayo's perfectly fine in the fridge for about 4 days.
posted by transient at 10:18 PM on September 7, 2010

Best answer: I had similar questions a few years ago, and did some informal research on the topic. I also started this thread on the foodie website eGullet. A lot of people responded, so you'll find good info there.

While I encountered opinions similar to some above, that homemade mayo might be unsafe after a very short time, some authoritative-seeming sources suggested that the acid (lemon juice or vinegar) in mayo helps preserve it so that it lasts much longer than a non-acidified egg mixture would. I have consumed homemade mayo that was well over a week old, with no ill effects.

As far as your broken mayo goes, you probably added the oil a little too fast at the start, and never achieved a stable emulsion. Gilbert has already covered the repair technique. Take it really, really slow at first when you're adding the oil (or broken mayo).
posted by jon1270 at 11:29 PM on September 7, 2010

Agreeing that in future you should add a little mustard and start with tiny, wee drops before moving to a thin stream of oil. I like Alton Brown's mayo recipe for acid and seasoning, but I tend to use 50/50 olive oil to neutral oil like canola. Gilbert's repair technique sound right on for your current batch.

Also, like jon1270, I've eaten week old homemade mayo many, many times and it's always been fine. I have also heard that the acid acts to preserve the mayo for longer than you'd think. I'm quite food safety minded generally, but I'd never throw it out after 24 hours.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:20 AM on September 8, 2010

The roasted garlic in your mayo might have contributed to the breakdown of the emulsion too. You could try making and storing plain mayonnaise and mixing in flavours later on. But, echoing bardic, once you get used to making mayo, it's more of a pleasure than a chore to make it fresh when you need it.
posted by howfar at 4:34 AM on September 10, 2010

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