The Easy Way To Take The Bitterness Out Of Olive Oil In Mayonnaise

While many people are used to picking up the food items they need straight from the grocery store, most staple condiments, such as ketchup and mustard, are actually very easy to make from scratch at home. Contrary to what you might think, most of your favorite sauces and syrups require only a few cheap ingredients to come together. (As well as a little elbow grease, of course.) Take homemade mayonnaise, for example, which calls for just five common items many people have on hand. (Or six, if you want a bolder mayo with the help of some Calabrian chili paste.)

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Still, when it comes to homemade mayonnaise in particular, one of the biggest pitfalls chefs face is that the bitterness of the olive oil in this mixture can come through too strong. This is a common problem for oils in emulsions, but luckily there is a quick fix. Biologist and chef Nik Sharma shared an easy way to take the bitterness out of the olive oil in your mayonnaise with Serious Eats. Here's how to do it. Simply mix your olive oil with some boiling water before adding it to your other ingredients. To do this you can pour your olive oil in a jar with boiling water, seal it, then shake. Alternatively, you can also whisk the mixture in a mixing bowl, the choice is up to you. Now wait about 30 minutes until the mixture naturally separates, then extract the olive oil for use in your mayonnaise recipe.

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How this unusual debittering method really works

While this process might seem odd, or even unnecessary to some, Nik Sharma claims this simple action can strip all the bitterness out of your homemade mayonnaise, leaving behind a silky, cohesive, and pleasant mixture instead. So, what exactly does this step do and why should you do it? Well when hot water mixes with olive oil, the water binds to soluble compounds in the oil known as polyphenols, which are responsible for producing olive oil's bitter flavor. So, while water of any temperature has the potential to dissolve these bitter compounds, hot water has the power to dissolve them completely. So, combining boiling water with your olive oil is the key to extracting all its bitterness. 

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Since olive oil is less dense than water, the ingredient will float to the top of your jar after being shaken, so the extraction process here is super easy. (You'll only need to pour or spoon the oil out of the jar.) But hey, if you're not keen on the idea of this process, there are some other ways to make your homemade mayo taste less bitter too.

Other ways to take the bitterness out of homemade mayo

If you're not a fan of this boiling water method, you won't hurt our feelings. Luckily there are a few other things you can try to avoid a bitter-tasting mayonnaise. For starters, one easy solution is to nix the olive oil in this recipe completely. In lieu of this savory topping, some chefs swear by avocado or sunflower oil for a much more mild, less bitter-tasting end result. Additionally, other chefs choose to mix their olive oil with more neutral-tasting oils to lessen those intense flavors.

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Another way to hide the bitterness of the oil in homemade mayonnaise is to mask it with other ingredients. Adding more salt, for example, can counteract the bitter taste. And finally, you can also try switching up how you're mixing these ingredients together. Experiments done by America's Test Kitchen show that mixing mayonnaise ingredients together with some high-intensity methods like a food processor will quickly break apart its polyphenol molecules, making the mixture even more harsh. For this reason, stick to a spoon or whisk when mixing this condiment together.

Despite its tendency to become bitter, there are simple fixes to avoid unsavory flavors in homemade mayonnaise, and it's still a super simple recipe. Plus, store-bought mayo doesn't stay good for long after opening, so you may as well put in the extra time for these fresher, better flavors.

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