Technicolor technique needed for making mayo; Sunday Gourmet

WHAT COLOR IS my mayonnaise? That is a question I have been struggling with lately. The arrival of spring traditionally kicks off the mayonnaise-making season for me. In part, this is because of all the "dipables" that spring brings with it.

"Dipables" is my term for the fresh vegetables that taste wonderful when dipped into a mound of homemade mayo. As soon as things start sprouting, I fire up the food processor and make a batch of homemade mayonnaise.


When you make your own mayonnaise, you must be ready to make some decisions. First, do you risk using raw eggs? Mayonnaise made with raw egg yolks has terrific flavor but runs a small chance of also carrying salmonella, a bacteria that can cause troubles ranging from stomach problems to, in rare cases, death. Cooking the eggs eliminates salmonella.

In most matters involving risk, I am a chicken. Even riding on a ski lift scares me. But when it comes to raw eggs, I am a risk taker. I make my mayo, and my Christmas nog, with raw eggs.


This year, I have had to face another mayo-making issue. Namely, what color is it going to be?

For years, I have been content with the natural look, the slightly golden hue that the mixture of egg yolk, olive oil, mustard and lemon juice yields. Lately, I have grown discontented. I don't know if I am ready to lead a more colorful life, but I do want to try a more exciting look in my mayo.

I have been considering making my mayonnaise -- are you ready for this? -- bright green. And, I know some folks might consider this shocking, but I find the prospect of red mayonnaise appealing.

I have been reading up on the procedures used to add verve to mayonnaise. If I go the bright-red route, all I have to do is pour some beet juice into the finished mayo mixture. Going green is a little more complicated. It involves extracting chlorophyll from leafy greens, like spinach.

To do this, you make a "chlorophyll cocktail" by mixing spinach leaves and water in a food processor or blender. Then you strain the cocktail, cook the mixture in a pan, then strain it again.

The resulting green stuff is pure chlorophyll, which, when you toss it in your mayonnaise, supposedly makes the mixture greener than a golf course.

I am undecided about what color to make my mayo. But I am leaning toward green.

Basic Blender Mayonnaise


Makes 1 cup

1 egg yolk (see note)

1 teaspoon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 -1 cup olive oil

beet juice or chlorophyll


salt, pepper to taste

Combine egg yolk, mustard and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. With the device on the lowest speed, pour the oil in a slow but steady stream through the opening in the top until the mayonnaise stiffens. Add coloring. Season to taste.

Note: If you are concerned about using raw eggs, cook them by combining 1 tablespoon of cold water for each egg yolk in a pan and whisking until frothy, about 45 seconds. Place pan over medium heat, continue to whisk rapidly until yolks increase in volume. Remove from heat, continue whisking. Then whisk in remaining ingredients.

Mayonnaise may break -- oil will separate -- if oil is added too fast. If this happens, rework the broken mixture into another egg yolk in another bowl or pan.

-- From "Essentials of Cooking" (Artisan, 1999) by James Peterson