HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Help me get this emulsification right

It is a blend of vegetable oil, roasted and skinned jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, and salt. The end result should be like a slightly runny homemade style mayonnaise. What is the trick to emulsifying this correctly?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For a stable emulsion it helps to add something with lecithin, such as egg yolk or mustard. Otherwise it will come together, but then separate, like basic oil/vinegar vinaigrette. A little honey may help too.

    1. I would start out by making essentially a mayo with the egg yolk, oil, lime juice, and a bit of mustard. Whiz the jalapenos, garlic, and salt separately; and then blend the two together.

      1. I would suggest a blender...

        Seriously, a practiced hand with the right kind of bowl and a balloon whip can make a semi-stable emulsion of oil and acid, but a blender will do that while also chopping up the solid components. You don't indicate whether this needs to stay emulsified permanently - most dressings need to do that only until they're mixed into the salad - but if so, then jlbwendt and Sam are correct about needing some egg or whatever.

        1. Unless you use an egg you'll never get a result like runny mayo. It may emulsify but it will be like a vinaigrette and not a mayonnaise.

          1. if you have a food processor where the add-in spout cover cup thingy has a little hole in it, that's supposed to be where you put the oil so that you get the perfect tiny stream of oil.

            1. I am assuming you use a food processor for the task and are mixing all the basic ingredients before adding the oil. While I agree that lecithin could be helpful, I don't like using raw egg yolks to obtain this ingredient. Many of the prepared margarine products contain lecithin and could be used as an emulsifier in this recipe. You might want to try measuring out the amount of oil needed, combining it with a small amount of melted margarine and, as indicated in another post already posted, set the food processor to its lowest speed and gradually, in a VERY thin stream, drizzle the oil into the mix. Then, don't over mix. When the last drop of oil is incorporated into the mixture, stop the food processor. You might also want to try soy bean oil or peanut oil to obtain the lecithin if you don't want to use margarine.
              You can also purchase lecithin commercially in gelatine capsules or powder form, perhaps at your local health food store.

              1 Reply
              1. re: todao

                If you use a whisk, the oil has to be drizzled in slowly. With a blender, just put all the mayo ingredients in, but with maybe a quarter to half of the oil you want to use. Blend and you'll get an emulsion.

              2. If you want a true emulsion -- something that you can put in the refrigerator and take out the next day and find it just the way you put it in yesterday -- then you have something missing in this recipe. As jlbwendt has said, you need something with lecithin in it to make the emulsion hold. I'm not convinced that just adding some mustard would give the desired result, but hey, I was wrong once before.... The two food sources that are highest in lecithin and it's emulsifying quality are egg yolks and beef liver. I think I would prefer the egg yolks to liver in my dressing! But then again, to each his own.

                The "trick" to emulsifying correctly is to first beat the egg yolk, and of the contents you give above, with the lime juice and salt. You can do it by hand with a whisk if you're arm is in really good shape (or if you enjoy pain later on), or you can do it in a blender. Blenders have it all over food processors and mixers, even stand mixers with planetary action. Do put the egg yolk, lime juice and salt in the blender, turn it on, let it blend then begin drizzling in the oil slow enough to allow it emulsify as you pour. If you pour too fast, it will "break." When all the oil is in and you're pretty close to the thickness you want, then drop in the skinned jalapenos and garlic. If the garlic is raw, I would use a garlic press first. But roasted garlic could be really interesting too... Good luck.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  At this point I'd recommend roasting the garlic after my experience on the aoili thread. The garlic flavor (and possibly the others in this recipe) intensified while resting to the point where it was practically inedible.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    C1, again, if you just toss the egg yolk, lemon juice, dab of mustard, salt, and oil in the blender and whiz, it will emulsify. No need to drizzle. The blender jar must be perfectly clean.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I didn't mean to say it won't emulsify. It's just that, for me at least, it takes a lot longer to get to the thickness I want if I do it that way instead of drizzling. As I recall, about twice as long. Maybe it's my blender?

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Strange, C1. I start with just a quarter of the oil, turn on blender, emulsify, add more oil--as much as you want--and you get as thick as you want. All in about a minute. Thick enough that a spoon will stand up in the stuff.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Okay. Sounds to me as if we're a LOT closer than it soulds when you read what each of us wrote. I thought you were talking about putting everything in the blender jar at once, before you turn it on. I do whirr things just a bit before adding any oil just to be sure the egg yolk has whatever acid I use -- sometimes vinegar, sometimes lemon juice -- cohesive before I start adding the oil. And even though I didn't specify, I usually pour a "good dollop" of oil -- maybe as much as four tablespoonsful -- and then drizzle the rest. If I want a thinner, more "dressing" like texture, such as an aioli for dippinng, then I drizzle fairly fast, closer to what could be called a stream, or for stand-a-spoon-up mayonnaise, I drizzle slower. The trick is always not to let it separate. I think we're using the same technique, just different words. But I have tried putting everything in the blender jar before turning it on. It eventually emulsified, but it seemed to take a lot longer, but it's also possible I'm just a control freak and felt like I didn't have any. '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Ha, ha... we're having a dance. I DO pour everything into the blender, including enough oil to make a thin mayo. Turn it on and, bingo. Just dump in more oil for for more thickness.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Okay, Smarty Pants. A Virginia reel! So... Did you hard boil eggs this morning and blow them at your daughter? Are your jaws sore?

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Maybe I can still play Bonaparte's Retreat on the Mandoline. Need a good fiddler and guitar player. Not yet, she and I went to the market and got the eggs, though.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Make sure it's the right mandoline! We don't need any sliced fingers. And boil those eggs tonight! I'm waiting to hear whether you end up with "tight jaws." '-)

                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Not sure I can top the mandolin-playing and egg-blowing, but I am an emuslifer par excellence. You can make a temporary emulsion without an egg, but it will separate. Or, you can make an permanent emulsion -- one that will not separate -- if you use an egg yolk. I do this several times a week, I've gotten it down so it's foolproof.

                        I use a food processor, but you can use a blender, or even do it by hand if your forearm is strong from lots of mandolin playing. Whip the egg yolk till pale yellow in color -- this seems to "expose" the lecithin in the egg yolk more.. I just let the food processor go for a minute to do this. Then, in a needle-sized stream, drizzle the olive oil into the egg yolk -- through the hole in the blender lid, or through the feedtube on the processor, or just drizzle it right on top of the whisk if doing this by hand.

                        When the emulsion "takes", , it will thicken up quickly. THEN add the jalapenos, acid, other ingredients. It will so much more difficult, and take so much time to create the emusion when the oil is fighting with the water in the lime juice, garlic and jalapenos. After the emulsion is established, it's stable, and the other ingredients can be added easily.

                        Mustard does help, especially powdered mustard. There's a mucilage in mustard that helps a vinaigrette "congeal" though not necessarily emulsify on a permanent basis.

                        The current aioli thread to which Jon Parker refers, is here: