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Sometimes my mayonnaise gets un-whiskably thick

<sigh> Sometimes making mayonnaise is no trouble at all and other times ... well ... the dog heard a bit of swearing last night.

Last night I started with one room temp egg yolk and 1/2 cup rice bran oil (because it's what I had). I didn't use mustard because I was making a black olive aioli and didn't want the additional flavor. It started to get very thick and when I began to add 1/2 cup of olive oil (drop by drop! I promise!) it got so thick that it was a gummy mass. I tried to go a tiny bit further with the oil and it broke. I tried rescuing it by the traditional method of starting with a clean bowl and another room-temperature egg yolk and that ultimately broke too. I pushed it further by trying a third yolk in desperation and it ended up less broken and very eggy.

I did a little reading this morning and read that I should have added water when it got too thick. That's news to me. Can you continue on adding oil after adding water? Also, if adding water is the fix could I add lemon juice instead? The lemon juice needs to go in at some point anyway.

Last week I made mayonnaise starting with the same 1 room-temp yolk, 1/2 cup rice bran oil, and 1/2 cup olive oil and had no problem whatsoever. The only differences are a different brand of egg and a different brand of olive oil.

Why does mayonnaise sometimes get to that too-thick-to-whisk stage?

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  1. Your are doing a great job to get such a tight emulsion.
    It is common to need a few drops of Water or some of the Egg White(my preference) to loosen your Mayo.
    You can add it as needed and continue to add you Oil. Be careful not to add too much at a time. A bit does a lot of loosening.

    3 Replies
      1. re: chefj

        Interesting. I will definitely try this; it sounds better than water. I've been tossing the white.

        1. re: chefj

          It works! It works! I replicated last night's mayonnaise but tonight when it got thick I added drops of egg white each time and it return to smooth.

          I have a new theory as to why this is happening: both the rice bran oil and the olive oil are very high in monounsaturated fats. This never happens to me when I use polyunsaturated (which is highly inflammatory and I'm now avoiding). When I made mayo last week with rice bran oil and olive oil -- and didn't have this problem -- I was using Newman's Organics olive oil, which may not have been real olive oil. There's lots of fraudulent olive oil out there that is really soybean oil, etc.

        2. I'm having the opposite problem I can't get mine to tighten. Are you using a bowl and whisk?

          1 Reply
          1. re: daislander

            Yes. I hate washing the appliances. A bowl and whisk just seem so easy and low tech. It's about all the exercise I get these days too. :)

          2. Yes, when you see it start to thicken too much you need to add water to thin, then you can continue to add oil. It's the same deal with making Hollandaise sauce. When that gets thick it needs to be thinned or it will break. Have you tried making mayo with a stick blender in a beaker? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
            http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

            4 Replies
            1. re: zackly

              Thanks for answering about adding more oil after the water. What I read was unclear. Can it be lemon juice instead?

              The recipe in the link you provided goes against everything I've learned previously. I'm intrigued.

              1. re: amoule

                Yes, any liquid will work just make sure you like the taste you're creating.
                As for the stick blender mayo. I'm all about easy. I'm a retired white tablecloth chef and CIA grad and I learn something new every day. I worked with and know many top chefs and they all share one trait in common....curiosity.

                1. re: amoule

                  Speed makes a big difference of whats possible. Burr Mixers go at a super high RPM.
                  When you are working by Hand, after the first half of the Oil is incorporated you can add the remainder much more aggressively.
                  If you use all Lemon juice you will yield a very tart Mayo also the Acid in the Lemon Juice keeps it from thinning as well. Acids are often added at the end to help stabilize the emulsion.

                  1. re: chefj

                    That's good to know. Thank you.