Mayonnaise or mayonnaise . It is a mixed sauce, made mainly from whole egg and beaten vegetable oil . Ordinarily it is seasoned with salt , lemon juice and / or vinegar .


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  • 1 Origins
    • 1 Emulsified sauces in the Middle Ages
    • 2 Landing in the port of Mahón
    • 3 Disclosure in France
    • 4 Controversy in Spain
    • 5 The Josep Pla effect
  • 2 Later studies
  • 3 Beliefs
  • 4 Features
  • 5 Industrial processing
  • 6 Failures in its elaboration
  • 7 Health Considerations
  • 8 Marketing
  • 9 Sauces derived
  • 10 uses
  • 11 Ingredients
  • 12 Preparation
  • 13 Variants
  • 14 Sources
  • 15 Bibliographic references


Emulsified sauces in the Middle Ages

If we go back to the 14th century with the medieval descriptions of the Catalan gastronomy book known as Libre de Sent Soví of what could be emulsified sauces today, there is mentioned ayada (” ajada “) as a condiment based on chopped garlic, mixed with meat or fish broth and thickened with breadcrumbs. The mentioned sauce was used in the seasoning of roast pork or eels . These recipes appear similarly in other Italian texts of the time and call it agliata or white agliata. In chapter CXXXI, CXXXII or 66 of “Libre de Sent Soví” is the almodrote (almodroch).

It is a sauce mix of raw garlic, cheese and water. The almotrote can also contain hard- boiled eggs , oil , spices , etc. This sauce survives with the name of ajoqueso and in the cuisine of the Canary Islands as almogrote . The recipes after the CLXVI chapter talk about the way to make juvert (sauce based on parsley and vinegar ), popular in the Middle Ages and that in Sent Soví the addition of toasted bread , hazelnuts , walnuts is originally described.and egg yolks. Another sauce described and known in the Middle Ages was the alidem made from whole eggs or beaten yolks, to which was added corn , broths or other liquids. Ruperto de Nola describes this sauce as an accompaniment to eggs.

Other post-Libre authors show variations of this type of sauce in their recipes, in this way it can be seen in Spanish authors such as Juan de Altamiras the elaboration of this sauce in dishes such as snails (making a garlic, as mentioned). From this situation certain authors affirm that the original sauce was habitual in the Balearic Islands as well as in the rest of the Crown of Aragon . When on April 18, 1756 , Marshal Richelieu and his associates attacked the Fort of San Felipe de Mahón and invaded the island, they encountered the variant of the primitive all-i-oli .

Landing in the port of Mahón

It is known by various authors that prior to the year 1756 this sauce was not known, nor is it mentioned in any European cookbook. In this year the French invasion of the island of Menorca occurs . The most similar recipe comes from the mentioned Spanish cookbook dating from the fourteenth century entitled: Libre de Sent Soví by an unknown author and describes it in Catalan, calling it all-y-oli. This traditional Balearic sauce that was also used in the rest of the Crown of Aragon .

When Marshal Richelieu and his friends attacked the Fort of San Felipe de Mahón and invaded the island on April 18, 1756, they had the opportunity to taste the sauce all-y-oli with great surprise. They copied the recipe of its elaboration and took it to France , there it became known. In France , as a matter of taste, they took away the garlic and called the result mahonnaise (from Mahón). The cook of Louis François Armand du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu, says that he created it to celebrate the Duke’s victory over the British in the port of Mahón in Menorca and that it was named after him. The historian Lorenzo Lafuente mentions the following dialogue:

The Duke of Richelieu, preoccupied with the general plan of attack, wandered one night through the streets of Mahón, not remembering to take food, and urging his hunger, entered a inn very late to ask for food. When the long-distance runner told him that there was nothing left, he asked him to take a good look at him, and while he was searching the kitchen, he found some unpleasant-looking stews of meat, saying:

Sir, it is the only thing there is, and it is not decent for your Excellency.
Arrange it as you can, that in time of hunger there is no hard bread.

So did the long-distance runner, and presented him with a sauce that was so pleasing to the duke, that he had to ask what sauce was that so tasty.

Sir, it’s just an egg sauce.
Well, tell me how it’s going to be written down.

This done, he told the long distance runner that in the future it would be called mayonnaise sauce. With that name he made it known when he returned to France.

The Menorcan origin of salsa is based on the invasion of the city of Mahón, and seems justified by various authors. The dispute between historians is centered on knowing if the origin of the precursor sauce was previous or if it is a simple improvisation of a cook. The concept of sauce they had in the Middle Ages is not the same as the one we have today. The procedures to thicken the sauces consisted of adding breadcrumbs (what was called a porra), nuts (almonds, for example), or egg yolks. Everything was something that became known little by little. What is very true is that the medieval texts, as well as the Libre de Sent Soví do not speak of emulsified sauces. Some authors on the contrary affirm that the sauce was invented in Mahon’s own French occupation, by mixing oil with eggs.

Disclosure in France

After Mahon’s conquest, salsa appears in France. Cooking with oil is foreign to French gastronomy (with the exception of Provence ) and a sauce that uses oil in a large proportion is unpleasant to unaccustomed palates. No wonder such sauce does not appear in 18th century French culinary texts . The first reference from 1804 mentions the word mayonnaise.

Already in 1806 the references to sauce are abundant. Marie-Antoine Carème ( 1783 – 1833 ), a great compiler of recipes, mentions in its chapter X the “Sauce Magnonaise” (from the verb magner or manier which means to manipulate), of which it represents five different variations. Prosper Montagné uses the name moyennaise (or moyeunaise), or moyen (or moyeu) which meant ” bud ” in Old French.

The anonymous book ” La Cuisinière Bourgeoise ” of 1786 published, therefore, thirty years after the fall of Mahón in the hands of Richelieu, does not yet speak of sauce, which suggests that it was not yet well known. There are other theories on etymology, some more picturesque than others. Bayonnaise, from Bayonne in France ; magnonnaise, of magnier, manier, handle; mayennaise, in honor of Duke Mayenne or the French region of the same name; moyeunnaise, de moyeu, egg yolk in old French, and perhaps some more.

Alioli, a precursor to mayonnaise, was stripped of garlic for its unsuitable flavor in French cuisine

Controversy in Spain

This denomination returns to the Spanish chefs from France, it is possible to think that at that time the Frenchification of the kitchen was evident, and the word “mayonnaise” is gradually prevailing in the culinary treatises of the time, and later. There were, however, other names such as mayonnaise sauce, or bayonese sauce, as Antonio Valbuena affirmed from Bayonne, and that Teodoro Bardají more documented answering, ending the discussion. There were prestigious culinary authors who named the sauce as: “mayonnaise”. Some like Pedro Ballester dedicated a poem to him.

But the debate was closed as early as 1928 when Teodoro Bardají published a pamphlet entitled ” La Salsa Mahonesa ” in defense of the Mayan denomination against other denominations. Many culinary authors accept Bardají’s theses, such as the journalist and writer Dionisio Pérez (Post-Thebussem), the great educator and writer Matilde García del Real ( 1856 – 1932 ), the cook, Bardají’s friend, author of numerous cookbooks and editor of the culinary magazine ” El Gorro Blanco ” Ignasi Domènech or the writer and scholar Julio Camba .

The Josep Pla effect

After a calm period of several decades in the original definition of salsa. Calm caused by an inter-war period in Europe, when there was already consensus on its origin. The Catalan writer Josep Pla delves into the Mallorcan origin of salsa in several articles published in the magazine ” Destino “. In these articles he defends the use of the word “mayonnaise”. It is based on the writings of Pedro Ballester. This “Pla effect” (as José-María Pisa Villarroya defines in his speech) caused certain popular authors to continue creating descriptions of salsa with the word “mayonnaise”, as is the case of Simone Ortega, a cook of French origin. In the mouth of some authors Josep Pla does not seem to have read in detail the explanations that Teodoro Bardají made at the time, and it is for this reason that in his articles he misquotes. This confusion caused some authors to resume the debate again.

Faced with the confusion created in the Spanish culinary world at the beginning of the century, the culinary writer Ángel Muro increases the confusion by mentioning a French author named ” Lancelot ” who has made a recipe poem about mayonnaise, and the surprise is dating from 1625, he describes the poem in other works of his as the cooking dictionary. The poem is as follows:

Willow Mayonnaise

Dans votre bowl in porcelaine,

A jaune d´oeuf étant placé,

Sel, poivre, du vinaigre à peine,

Et le travail est commencé.

L´huile will look goutte a goutte,

The mayonnaise prend du corps,

Épaissisant sans qu´on s´en doute

In flots luisants jusques aux bords.

Quand vous jugez que l´abondance

Peut suffire à votre repas,

Au frais mettez-là par prudence

Tout est fini N´y touchez pas!

Translation to Spanish:

Mayonnaise sauce

In your porcelain bowl,

Having laid an egg yolk,

Salt, pepper and a pinch of vinegar,

The work has already begun.

The oil is added drop by drop,

The mayonnaise takes shape,

Thickening without realizing it

In bright waves to the edges.

When you judge the amount

It may be enough for your stew,

Put it in the fresh air, for prudence,

And it’s over, don’t touch it anymore!

The responses of the authors of the time branded him as provocative. This author named “Lancelot” was unknown to everyone. If this were how A. Muro describes the origin of the mayonnaise, it would not be linked to Richelieu’s conquest of the Port of Mahón. And all the claims made were meaningless. Camilo José Cela publicly appealed to Ángel Muro and Josep Pla for an explanation of their references. The sequence of events is described in a monograph by José-María Pons Muñoz titled: « The mayonnaise sauce and its true origin ».

Finally, Camilo José Cela, demonstrating a deep knowledge of the subject, wrote an article in which he demonstrated that said poem did not belong to this Lancelot, but to Achille Ozanne , a French cook and poet, born in Paris on September 19, 1846.. The poem was written around 1890, which places it more than a century after the Battle of Mahón and more in line with French etymological studies. This article left the community in doubt that Ángel Muro had made a wrong or malicious interpretation. Camilo José Cela recommends the use of the word mayonnaise in Spanish (and mayonnaise in Catalan). Subsequently, some Spanish linguists have been supporting Cela’s theses with the provision of evidence about their origin in Mahón..


In the Anglo-Saxon world the sauce is believed to be of French origin, some authors claim that it is so named because of the name of its inventor, a certain General MacMahon , this belief is deeply rooted especially in Ireland. Others argue that the word of English origin: “mayonnaise” is a corruption of “mahonnaise”. The first mention in Anglo-Saxon literature is made in 1840 by William Makepeace Thackeray . In some Latin American countries it is a sauce introduced from the United States and that is where it is popularly considered to be. However in others (particularly in Argentina) due to the great wave of Italian and Spanish immigrants its origin is known and even in past decades it used to be made in a homemade way, a custom that continues, albeit to a limited extent.

Today we know that it is ancient and has coexisted for centuries with aioli, which in the Mediterranean was considered the sauce of the rich, since it had an egg, and that the poor were content with aioli that does not have an egg.


Ingredients of a North American “mayo” (you can see the little proportion they use of olive oil)

There are many great culinary writers who prescribe how mayonnaise is made. Be that as it may, the foundation involves using egg yolks that are beaten, when they are well locked, continue to beat while gradually adding vegetable oil with a cruet. During the process of whipping the yolks (before pouring the oil), add a little lemon juice or vinegar. Vinegars sometimes have chemicals that distort the making of mayonnaise and that may make it preferable to use lemon juice or a cup. Some authors mention a small portion of milk to “lighten” the final sauce.

In the traditional style preparation, olive oil is preferred and there are health reasons that also support its use; in the case of using monovarietal olive oils, it is recommended to do it with arbequina, empeltre, cornicabra or others. The picual variety is not recommended since it can be excessively bitter, as well as other strong varieties. Outside the Mediterranean area this oil is scarce and other vegetable oils are used, such as sunflower oil , the same happens at the industrial level, where a mixture of vegetable oils of different species is usually used to lighten costs. Still, there are brands in Spain that sell it made from olive oil only and some more that combine it with other oil.

In some treaties the use of corn oil is advised in countries where olive oil is practically unknown. The important thing is that the ingredients are at the same temperature and this should be close to 20 ° C. Some Anglo-Saxon authors prefer that there be no trace of the egg white in the yolks. Their recipes usually indicate the number of egg yolks, for this reason there are recipes for “two yolks”, “three” and “four”. Some Catalan specialists claim the use of whole egg (yolk and white) in addition to olive oil.

Traditionally, these homemade mayonnaises are made with one egg, since the resulting quantity with two is already too large to be emulsified with an arm mixer and even more with a mortar. If more needs to be done, repeat the operation more times. The amount of oil is usually intuitive, depending on the particular taste and the amount you want to obtain. The color of mayonnaise can vary slightly, it will always be light, yellowish or greenish, depending on the type of oil used.

Technically it is an emulsion of fatty substances with proteins, in which 80% of its composition by volume is oil. The family of this type of sauces is called emulsified sauces . When beating the egg yolks, the oil drops are broken into smaller drops and are suspended in the protein. Emulsifiers (also called surfactants ) are added in industrial processes . During its elaboration, the initial phase should be done slowly, and progressively beat more vigorously as oil is added. The oil should be added little by little during the shake.

If complementary ingredients are added to a mayonnaise, a high range of various derived sauces can be obtained: Andalusian, Italian, Tartar, green, Cambridge, Indian, etc. On some occasions, whipped cream is added to modify the final texture. In other cases, sweeteners are used in order to modify their flavor, generally sugar. Monosodium glutamate is often used as a flavoring in the food industry.

In places where this sauce is not part of traditional cuisine like the United States, mayonnaise is seldom made by hand, and industrial sauces never contain olive oil (or very rarely). Often not even egg, but eggfish or yolks, or they add other milk proteins . In French cuisine, which sometimes uses more tasteless oils than olive oil, such as rapeseed oil, they are forced to flavor it with mustard. It is also made to facilitate emulsion (mustard acts as a surfactant due to its isothiocyanate content).

However, in the extension and polarization of mayonnaise via France, at the time when its cuisine was in vogue, the addition of mustard never came up, so it is not included in mayonnaises in any other country. On the other hand, although the use of mustard in mayonnaise has become popular in France , French gastronomy considers it as a variant called rémoulade sauce .

Industrial processing

The industrial elaboration of mayonnaises is a technique that began to be successful as early as the 20th century. From the beginning, the challenge was the stability of the emulsion in its packaging when it had to be stored for long periods of time. At that time the important role that salt played in the formation and final stability of the emulsion was known. Nowadays a greater quantity of emulsifiers is needed in the “light” versions (of low fat content). A dietary problem facing the industry is the progressive reduction of food products with a potential contribution of cholesterol, this forces us to think of cholesterol-free mayonnaises from plant-based proteins (or even mixtures). The processing industry avoids “contamination” at all times

With the intention of increasing the life of the sauce, preservatives such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (abbreviated EDTA) are sometimes added . EDTA is added as a stabilizer that prevents discoloration caused by metal ions. The packaging in sterile gases ( carbon dioxide ) also allows a greater durability of the product. An antioxidant called BHA was used in the mid- 20th century , but was eventually withdrawn from the industry, or its use minimized.

Faults in its elaboration

If it emulsifies correctly, it achieves a creamy texture and a homogeneous appearance, but if it does not emulsify, it is said to “cut” and have a more liquid texture and an oily appearance. The use of emulsifiers in the food industry avoids this possibility. One of the factors that makes it more likely that a mayonnaise is cut is the use of egg yolks just taken from the refrigerator. It should be remembered that the yolks have the same ambient temperature as the oil. This requires waiting for the eggs to reach room temperature.

In cases where a sauce has been “cut” there are possibilities of rescuing it. Technically you need to re-emulsify the mix again. One of the best ways is to whip it again so that the oil particles regain their position and size. For this, a new yolk is used and it is beaten strongly while pouring, little by little, the “cut” mixture. During this process the mixture must be linked. This operation makes the new protein help emulsify the old mixture.

Health Considerations

The mayonnaise uses raw egg yolks in its preparation and it is for this reason that there is a certain risk of contracting salmonellosis if proper precautions are not taken. The sauce should not be stored in very hot places because it would lose its consistency, but it should not be stored in too cold places either.

It should not be stored in the refrigerator, but in a cool place. Proper storage in cool places with temperatures of 18-22 ° C 24 hours before being placed in the refrigerator protects against the proliferation of Salmonella spp. and it must be consumed in hours, or a few days later. Food poisoning caused by homemade mayonnaise usually comes from the use of contaminated eggs and the use of a small amount of organic acids in its production, either vinegar (acetic acid) or lemon juice (citric acid), in order to reduce the pH of the mixture below 3.3 and that the Salmonella enteritidis bacteria does not thrive.

Regarding the role of organic acids , the use of olive oil has been shown to better prevent the proliferation of salmonella compared to other oils such as sunflower oil, due to the greater presence of acids in its composition. Acidity is a critical point in the microbiology of mayonnaise and is one of the measurement points regarding its sanitary quality and survival as a consumable food. The acetic acid (vinegar) is a more potent germicide than citric acid (lemon juice). Most cases of salmonellosis are produced by homemade mayonnaise, in rare cases an elaborated product has shown contamination.

The two microorganisms responsible for the destruction of the properties of the mayonnaise are the yeast Zygosaccharomyces bailii (it causes the mayonnaise to cut and it has an odor of yeasts) and the bacterium Lactobacillus fructiverans . Bacteria and yeasts that thrive in mayonnaise must withstand pH 4 (acidic environment). An improvement in mayonnaise half-life has even been shown if bifidobacteria were inoculated during processing. The mold attack on mayonnaise is superficial and occurs only in the presence of sufficient oxygen.

The acidity conditions of the product below a pH of 4.4 mean that most types of bacteria cannot survive. It is for this reason that commercial mayonnaise sauces often have an “acid point”. However there are studies where Escherichia coli 0157: H7 has been shown to be resistant to these conditions. There are cases of shigellosis due to the proliferation of the Shigella bacteria.

Mayonnaise is a mixture of fats (oil and egg) with proteins of animal origin (egg) and this can affect those who have problems with cholesterol. The industrial production of low cholesterol mayonnaise is currently being investigated. In some cases, people with food allergies may have allergic problems with egg proteins.


This sauce can be found in most supermarkets in the world, it is usually presented in glass jars (as a rule with a wide mouth), or in tubes. It is frequent to see it in plastic containers with the inverted cap. They are marketed at room temperature but once the container is opened, it should be stored in the fridge. The commercial preparation of the sauce usually has various emulsifiers and thickeners, such as xanthan gum, with the intention of presenting the consumer with a viscous appearance. The commercial mayonnaise was first sold in New York in Manhattan ‘s Upper West Side. In 1905, the first mayonnaise jars were sold by a family from Vetschau ( Germany)) in what would be the Richard Hellmann ‘s Columbus Avenue Deli, between 83rd and 84th Streets. In 1912, Mrs. Hellmann’s mayonnaise was marketed under the name Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise .

Sauces derived

Mayonnaise sauce is the “base” of many other sauces:

  • German sauce
  • Bearnaise sauce
  • Golf sauce
  • Hollandese sauce
  • Pink sauce
  • Tartar sauce


It is used as an accompaniment to meat, fish, seafood and vegetables, as well as various prepared foods, for example: salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, pasta, french fries, etc.

It is used in the preparation of salads such as Russian salad, chicken salad, potatoes or tuna, fish and seafood cocktails. Due to its consistency, it is frequently used as decoration. It is mainly associated with fast food


  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 liter of oil
  • 1/2 lemonjuice
  • A pinch of mustard
  • Salt


  • Begin to beat the egg with the mixer, with a jet of oil, lemon, salt and a pinch of mustard. Ingredients should not cover mixer blades (20 seconds).
  • Stop and add the rest of the oil. The mixer is turned on for about 3 seconds.


Some recipes are proposed, adjusted to the amounts that are usually used at home, they are very easy to prepare.

With just a good mayonnaise as a base and simple and inexpensive ingredients and spices, you can make the most varied and exquisite sauces. If you add ketchup, ground garlic, etc. to this base sauce, the variations can be endless. An example is the green mayonnaise sauce with parsley and pickles, and with tomato.


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