Friday, May 6, 2011

Mayonnaise, Whey and Cream Cheese

(not my photo)
I've mentioned here a lot of times before that I make my own mayonnaise, but I don't think I've ever talked about it. It's seriously about one of the easiest things to switch over to making at home. Takes less than 10 minutes. You do want room temperature eggs, so you have to remember to get them out ahead of time, but besides that it's SO fast and easy to do. I'll write out my method using my stand mixer here, but lots of people have better success using the blender or food processor to do this. If I had a decent blender, or even owned a food processor, I might give that a try. [UPDATE: I now own a good blender and use that. It works much better than the stand mixer! You just need a funnel to help with the oil, because it splatters like crazy.] Also, I use all olive oil, but this does have quite a strong flavour of olives. My mom mixes hers half sunflower oil half olive oil, for a milder taste. You can even use all sunflower oil if you want. Just please, please don't use canola oil! It's SOOO bad for you, you really might as well just keep buying the store bought stuff if you're going to use canola. And that's my little health rant of the day.

Homemade Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks, room temperature
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whey (optional)
3/4-1 cup oil (sunflower/olive)

In a blender or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, combine egg yolks, salt, lemon juice, mustard and optional whey. Give it a quick pulse or whisk to blend. Now with the blender running or the mixer on fairly high (I use 8), SLOWLY start to drip in the oil, just a few drops at a time at first. After a minute you can add it a little faster, but still just in a really thin steam. I would estimate it takes me between 5-10 minutes of standing at the mixer slowly pouring in the oil. This is the only part that takes any effort on your part. If you don't do it slowly, you will end up with a runny mayonnaise. It's still edible and tasty, but it won't be that thick creamy texture we're going for here. If you didn't add the whey, then put your mayo in a jar and refrigerate immediately. It will keep for 1-2 weeks. If you do add the whey (and I always do) then put the mayo in a jar, cover, and let it sit at room temperature for 7 hours before putting it in the fridge. The whey starts a slight fermentation process that not only increases enzymes and makes the mayonnaise even healthier for you, but also will help it keep in the fridge for at least a few months. I've never had it go bad in the fridge on me, and it takes us a while to get through a whole jar.
And that's it! Super easy and pretty much a million times better for you than store bought "mayonnaise" (I'm using that word in the loosest sense possible).

Now as for the whey, I'll admit that when I first heard about using whey I really had no idea what it was or how to get it. Whey is a bi-product from cheese making, and usually discarded, but it actually contains a lot of valuable enzymes that can be very beneficial to your digestive system. Making whey is also very easy. All you need is either some plain yogurt, some cultured buttermilk, or some regular milk. If you're using yogurt, just set a strainer lined with a cheesecloth (actually I just use a dishcloth!) over a large bowl and dump in the yogurt. Gather the corners and tie the bundle up so it can drip into the bowl. It's handy to use a cupboard knob for this and just set the bowl on the counter beneath it. Leave it overnight or longer if necessary, and you will end up with a bowl full of whey and a dishcloth full of homemade cream cheese. Scoop the cream cheese into a container in the fridge, it will keep for about a week, and pour the whey into a jar, also in the fridge. It will keep for a really long time - months at least. If you decide to use buttermilk or regular milk, let it sit on the counter until it sours and separates, between 12 and 24 hours. This will look nasty and you will question your sanity, but I've done it many times and haven't died yet! Do the same thing you would do with the yogurt, pour it into a dishcloth then tie it up and let it drip out. Ta da, cream cheese and whey. Your cream cheese will have a slightly different flavour depending on what you use to make it, but it's yummy and works well in recipes that call for the commercial stuff. Or you can mix in some herbs and spices and make a spread or dip for fresh veggies. Or stir in some honey and diced fruit and make a dip for fruit. The possibilities are endless, and you know you're doing good for your body.

The whey can also be taken just to help digestion - a lot of people swear by it. Stir a tablespoon into a small glass of water and drink it a couple times a day. I've done this - it doesn't taste good, but it's not awful. Better than pepto-bismol *shudder* and certainly a lot more natural. One must wonder what they put in that stuff to make it that colour...

I should note that the recipes and ideas I'm posting today, while slightly adapted to my own taste, come for the most part from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, which I've mentioned on my blog before. While I don't ascribe to everything she writes in this book, I really like the overall principle: sticking to wholesome foods that are as natural as possible, and using traditional methods of preparing them. I take a lot of my cooking inspiration from her.


  1. When you use plain yogurt what does the cream cheese taste like? Does it taste similar to the stuff you buy in the store? Would you spread it on your bagel (hypothetically), or just use it in recipes. Would it work in a cheesecake?

    (Sorry for all the questions!)

  2. Hmmm... it tastes... cheesy? Hard to describe I guess, it might have a slight yogurt taste but not really noticeable. Pretty similar to the store. You can always try it with a small amount and see if you like it first. I used it in a mini cheesecake recipe once and it worked fine, never tried a big cheesecake with it but lots of other internet people say it works fine. And you could totally spread it on a bagel! I never have, but that's just because I'm not a huge cream-cheese-on-bagels fan, especially plain.

  3. I must try this, I actually have a bunch of whey in the fridge from making some cheese for a dip recently! Very excited about the fact that it can last a long time with the whey... I never really wanted to make it because I thought it would just go bad before we could use it up. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I really appreciate your post. Thank you. Mayo is something that I always think of buying at the store and not making homemade. But I am heading in that direction, as I posted on homemade yogurt, which by the way, has more whey than the store brand. Now I'm going to try your homemade mayo recipe! thanks again.