Mayonnaise Advice

Much like our recipes always call for good bourbon, they also call for good mayonnaise, and one blog reader suggested we explain what that means.

First, we have made homemade mayonnaise and while good, it isn’t worth the trouble. We also found that some mayonnaise just isn’t good in our recipes, and that leads to a favorite funny family story.

We will never forget the time we vacationed at a home near Disneyworld in Florida. We had about 20 people staying at a great vacation rental home. We decided that all the guys would take a huge grocery list shopping. Once we loaded up several carts, and spent far too much time in the grocery store, we started to check out. We knew we had well over $1,000 in grocery items already when our Kentucky son-in-law Garret made a critical discovery. We had forgotten mayonnaise! He yelled back to our Northern son-in-law Mark to run back and grab it before we finished checking out.

It took him awhile to find it but just as we were almost done checking out Mark returned with a bottle, thank goodness. Mark proudly laid it on the cashier’s checkout, as if he had just returned with two 20 pound wild turkeys he had personally shot and cleaned to provide dinner for the entire family. We all just stopped what we were doing and and looked at him. It was the dreaded Miracle Whip!

You can just imagine what Garret, an aficionado of mayonnaise from down South, said somewhat tersely. “That’s not mayonnaise!” I can’t honestly remember what happened in the next hectic moments but I think Garret ran off to get it himself. I do however know we had real mayonnaise when we got back to the vacation home, and had a lot of fun kidding Mark and Garret about that event for years to come.

(FYI, Miracle Whip was developed in 1933 as a cheaper alternative to mayonnaise. It has the same basic ingredients—eggs, oil and vinegar—but it also contains extra sugar and spices. Since Miracle Whip contains less oil, it’s not technically mayonnaise at all. The FDA classifies it as a “dressing” instead.)

After moving to Kentucky we were again introduced to Duke’s mayonnaise. It is the best in our book. I also came to learn that most Southern cooks and eaters are fiercely loyal to Duke’s mayonnaise. It’s sugar-free, and contains a higher ratio of egg yolks than most others. It is very rich and creamy, and less likely to separate when heated. There’s a slight tang from cider vinegar and a touch of paprika.

Our second choice, and what we used when we lived up North, is Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Lastly, though we grew up thinking Miracle Whip was Mayonnaise, and thinking it was good on everything, we finally learned that the sweetness and lower cost just couldn’t touch “real” good mayonnaise. Such is learning and life.

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