One further experiment we’ve decided to try at some future point is to investigate whether we can make mayonnaise substituting mashed avocado for some or all of the oil.
That future point? Now a past point.
Before I report the results from our kitchen, let’s talk a little about mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is traditionally made up of oil, egg, and lemon juice (or something equivalent).
You know oil and water do not mix. Lemon juice contains citric acid, but it mostly acts like water in terms of its interactions with oil.
And, if you have experience with mayonnaise, you know it’s not supposed to look like oil floating on top of watery stuff. Rather than looking like a salad dressing that needs to be shaken, your typical mayo is white, opaque, thick, and creamy.
How it gets that way is the creation of an emulsion. Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion. Droplets of the oil are suspended in the aqueous part of the mayonnaise (the lemon juice), mediated by an emulsifier like egg yolk that has a hydrophobic part (which plays nice with the oil) and a hydrophilic part (which plays nice with the lemon juice).
However, the emulsion doesn’t just pop into existence when you put lemon juice, egg yolk, and oil in the same bowl. To coax the oil into the emulsion, you need to break the oil into tiny droplets. You can do this with a blender of food processor, or with a wire whisk and elbow grease.
We wanted to find out whether we could make mayo with avocado. But first, since I had never made the canonical homemade mayonnaise, we did that as a control.
We brought an egg to room temperature, then whisked it with 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard and 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. (These measurements are approximate.)
While whisking, we gradually drizzled in some olive oil and some canola oil. (The olive oil was on the fruity side, so we only used a little of it.) We kept whisking and drizzling in oil until the mixture thickened up and developed a creamy appearance.
It tastes … like mayonnaise (with a distinct olive oil flavor note). Quite a lot of mayonnaise. Methinks I’ll be harvesting a cabbage and making coleslaw.
Having established that we could make mayo the standard way, the next question was what we could accomplish with avocado. Avocado has a pretty high oil content for a fruit. But we also noticed in our earlier experimentation that avocado seems to behave like an emulsifier. So, we wanted to try to answer two questions:
- Can we substitute avocado for some of the oil in mayonnaise?
- Can we use avocado as the main emulsifier in mayonnaise?
Avocado for oil:
As with our canonical mayonnaise, we started by whisking together an egg at room temperature, approximately 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, and approximately 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
We added mashed avocado (approximately 1.5 avocado) to the egg mixture. Since we couldn’t really drizzle the mashed avocado, we added it all at once and then whisked vigorously. It very quickly resembled something mayo-like (although greenish instead of whitish). We then drizzled in a little canola oil while whisking and ended up with this:
It tastes like a lemony, avocado-y mayonnaise, and the texture is probably a little better than our canonical mayo.
Avocado for egg:
Here, we started with the mashed pulp of half an avocado, approximately 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard, and approximately 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. We whisked this together and kept whisking while drizzling in the canola oil. Even though we whisked really vigorously, what we ended up with looked like this:
The oil just wasn’t persuaded to go into emulsion with the lemon juice. So, while there may be some emulsifiers in the avocado, they’re not quite as good at the job as the egg yolk.