Mayonnaise it is not considered to be a nautical word, but it is nautical in origin. It is a sauce made with pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and other seasonings, beaten up together into a thick paste.
When the Duc de Richelieu captured Port Mahon, Minjora in 1756, he came ashore and demanded to be fed. There being no meal prepared ashore, he took what he could find and beat it up together. Hence, the original form of mayonnaise was born which became the modern mayonnaise recipe we know today .
My family and I grew up sailing across Cook Strait in New Zealand. One of the first recipes my mother taught me was how to make a mayonnaise which could be easily prepared aboard using a hand whisk or food processor.
Seafarers Mayonnaise Recipe
Made in: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Not too tricky, but best prepared at anchor.
The best thing about mayonnaise is that you can take in any direction you like by adding herbs (fresh or dried) spices, chutneys, pickles and garlic. It is great for dressing coleslaw and potatoe salad or just dolloped on a beautiful piece of freshly caught fish.
2 fresh free-range egg yolks
1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
500 ml Oil
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add the mustard and whisk together. Gradually add about half the oil, very slowly at first, whisking continuously for around 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Once you’ve added about half the oil, whisk in 1 tablespoon of vinegar – this will loosen the mixture slightly and give it a paler colour. Continue to gradually add the remaining oil, whisking continuously. Season with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little more vinegar, if needed. Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to one week.
- The key to making a mayonnaise successfully is whisking the oil into the egg mixture. If you add too much too quickly, it won’t be incorporated into the emulsion of eggs and oil that you are trying to create by whisking or mixing in the processor. That’s why its important use a slow, steady drizzle of oil.
- Another important consideration is the kind of oil used. Extra-virgin oil can contribute to a harsh flavour to the mayonnaise. Personally, I like Grapeseed or Sunflower oil. Canola oil is also good for making a more lemony mayonnaise. Also crucial to flavour is the use of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Note: Mayonnaise made from reconstituted lemon or lime juice dosin’t have the same bright flavour.
- If you’ve brought fresh eggs aboard remember to turn them over in their cartons three times a week. This helps to preserve them. If left sitting for a week without turning they will start go bad after 25 days. The reason this method works is that it helps to keep air from entering the semiporous eggshell. When an egg is absolutely fresh, its shell is well coated inside by the clear egg fluid, and air can’t get through. As it ages, the shell dries out inside where the air space sits, and then the shell becomes more porous. Turning the eggs helps to keep the inside of the shell moist.
- Store bought mayonnaise once opened will last aboard refrigerated for two-three months, whilst hand-made mayonnaise will only last 3-5 days.
Tastiness and healthfulness
I love that homemade mayonnaise contains no preservatives, or too much salt and sugar. With homemade, you know that the eggs are top-quality, you can choose the type of oil being used, and you know it’s fresh. It wins in taste as well. The real stuff is creamy and rich, with a natural tanginess. By comparison, store-bought often tastes like a watery imitation.
What do think? Have you made mayonnaise aboard your boat?