Mayonnaise mania

how to make mayonnaise

Almost no food inspires brand loyalty as much as the simple condiment mayonnaise. In the US, there is a cultural divide in fans of the two major brands of mayo: Duke’s, which reigns supreme in the southern part of the country, and Hellman’s (known as Best Foods west of the Rocky Mountains) which holds court in the north and west. The New York Times  identifies the factors that go into the strong preferences of each brand’s fans.

Athough mayonnaise wasn’t commercialized until the early 20th century, it was “codified as a sauce by the father of haute cuisine, Marie-Antoine Carême, and popularized in the formal kitchens of 19th-century France.” The exact origin of mayonnaise is a bit more murky, as no one has pinned down whether garlicky aioli, the “lemon-touched” French version, or a different emulsion came first, nor where the epicenter of mayo creation lies.

Americans likely agree with British food writer Elizabeth David’s description of mayonnaise as a “beautiful shining golden ointment,” since they spend roughly $1.86 billion USD each year on mayonnaise. But as much as Americans love the stuff, they pale in comparison to the Russians, who eat nearly twice as much, around 11 pounds per capita each year. People in other countries also enjoy the condiment, pairing it with fries (in Germany and Belgium) and even pizza (in Japan, where the Kewpie brand rules).

At one point, there were over 600 brands of mayo available in the US, although that number has dropped to a handful of national brands, many of which have a devoted following. Fans of Duke’s praise its rich, creamy texture, no one more so than the gentleman who ordered a custom Duke’s mayonnaise jar in which to store his remains. No Hellman’s fan has yet stepped up with a similar request, but it is the brand recommended by Ina Garten. She sometimes adds white wine, lemon juice, mustard, or herbs to jazz it up, but she uses it right out of the jar on her BLTs. “Mayonnaise is one of those things people think will taste better if you make your own,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the case. If it’s perfectly good prepared, why bother?”

Do you agree with Ina that commercial brands are as good as homemade? What’s your favorite brand of mayo?

Photo of How to make mayonnaise from indexed blog Food52

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  • nicolepellegrini  on  April 14, 2015

    I'm one of those weirdos, I guess, who absolutely hates the taste and texture of mayonnaise! At least on its own or when slathered on sandwiches. I don't mind it in something like a chicken salad or potato salad, and use it in some recipes to cook with, but ugh…the only mayo I find tolerable on my own is homemade. There's just something about the mouthfeel of commercial mayo that completely nauseates me.

  • MangerTout  on  April 14, 2015

    I prefer homemade but usually buy Hellman's. My mother always used "salad dressing" and I prefer that on cole slaw but on nothing else!

  • ellabee  on  April 15, 2015

    I have to part ways with Ina on this one. My mother made mayo (in a tall cylindrical jar with a metal mesh 'beater' that was a Wesson Oil promo, so we rarely had storebought. I *hated* storebought the first time I tried it. Over the decades, I've grown accustomed to it. I'm not a huge fan or user even of the good stuff — but it's pretty essential for BLTs, so I make some at the height of tomato season, and usually find the effort worthwhile. Especially since getting the stick blender method down.

  • Schteveo  on  April 15, 2015

    I grew up in a Best Foods / Miracle Whip household. My wife, being a NC native grew up with Dukes.

    When we got married, we bought the Pt jars of MW and Dukes.

    Then, at some point in the 80's, from one jar to the next, MW changed recipes or SOMETHING, and I quit buying it.

    Now we eat Dukes, unless I take a notion to make a homemade using light olive oil and lots of garlic and dijon.

    We prefer the homemade [Alto Brown's recipe as a base recipe] but it's hard to eat enough of it and not waste the ingredients.

  • Rinshin  on  April 17, 2015

    Given time, I prefer homemade to store bought. I've not tasted Duke's. I always have Best Foods and Japanese branch Kewpie on hand though.

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