Friday, May 31, 2013

Canning Mayonnaise

I've been asked the question "Can you can mayonnaise" many times... I've asked that question many times myself...

The answer, in a word, is "No!"

Where I come from, there's only one commercial brand of mayo worthy of use... and the best lunch you can ask for on a summer day is a 'mater sammich using a tomato fresh out of the garden with salt, pepper, and Duke's Mayonnaise! When my sister lived "up north" in New Jersey for several years, my mom bought Duke's by the gallon and any time they went up to visit, she took my sister a few gallons... we're THAT dedicated!

But, back to canning mayonnaise... "Why can't you can it?"

First, we need to talk about exactly what mayonnaise is... (trust me, I've researched this... I was DETERMINED there HAD to be a way to can mayonnaise!)

"Mayonnaise is an emulsion of vegetable oil in lemon juice stabilized by the molecule lecithin, found in egg yolks. Mayonnaise does not taste all that oily even though most of it is oil. This is because every molecule of oil is surrounded by a microscopic amount of lemon juice. Thus, it is important to remember that mayonnaise is not a small amount of lemon juice blended into oil, but is instead, a large amount of oil blended into a tiny amount of lemon juice.

The key to making mayonnaise is to avoid having the components of the emulsion separate back into the components. In cooking, this is called breaking. No matter how much you mix the oil and lemon juice together, it will always separate (break) into a gooey mess unless you include the egg yolk as a stabilizer. The lecithin in the egg yolk acts like detergent in dissolving both the oil and the lemon juice components. This is what keeps mayonnaise fluffy."

But... but... but...
How do commercial mayonnaise-makers can their mayonnaise?

They don't... 

Commercial Mayo isn't "canned," it is put in a jar and capped. Even the health seals are not from canning but an added assurance against tampering.

But... but... but...

Can't mayonnaise that's been left out of refrigeration cause food poisoning?

Ummm... No!

Commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise dressings are prepared using pasteurized eggs that are free of Salmonella and other types of bacteria. Ingredients in the product such as vinegar and lemon juice provide a high acid environment, which slows or prohibits entirely the growth of these types of bacteria. Salt, another ingredient in commercial mayonnaise also acts to quell the growth of bacteria. Many of the foods used with mayonnaise such as tuna, ham, chicken, and potatoes are more prone to bacterial contamination than mayonnaise itself.

Commercial mayonnaise is actually shelf stable. Commercially made mayo has an additional ingredient which "binds" the mayo even if it is left out on the counter for quite a while; that component is known as EDTA. It is present in most if not all commercial mayos.

Just what is EDTA? It stands for ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (for more information on EDTA, check here...


If you make your own mayonnaise, what will happen if you try canning it?

Well, I'll tell you...

The emulsifying job that the egg does in binding the oil and lemon juice (or vinegar) together will be compromised... the egg will cook and the oil and lemon juice (or vinegar) will separate and you'll have an ugly, globby mess!

Separated (attempted water bath canning) mayonnaise

My suggestion is this... make your own mayonnaise a small batch at a time... keep the ingredients (separately) on hand and whip up a bowl full once a week or so... it'll keep for a week or two in the fridge... and it doesn't contain EDTA or any other preservatives. This has worked great for me since I've been on this Candida Diet and most commercial mayonnaises contain sugar and/or soy oil (both big no-no's on the diet)... I can make my own and leave out the sugar... use olive oil and it tastes SO yummy I could eat it with a spoon! And I'm not a big mayo lover unless it's mixed in something or on a tomato sandwich!

My friend over at Joybilee Farms posted a great "fail-proof" mayonnaise recipe that is simple and yummy...


(Makes 1 cup, 250ml)
Time: 5 minutes with a stand mixer
Let’s start with a bowl, and a mixer or a whisk and one large farm fresh egg.
1 egg yolk, reserve the egg white for another recipe
1 tbsp. lemon juice or cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil plus ½ cup olive oil (total ¾ c.)
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

Mayonnaise is an emulsified mixture of oil and water.  You need the acid of the lemon juice or vinegar mixed with the egg yolk to act as the emulsifier.  Don’t try to use a whole egg with this recipe.  You’ll have a mess on your hands.  You just want the yolk.
Use the best quality of virgin olive oil that you can find.  You don’t need much and good quality olive oil has many health benefits.  Use farm fresh, organic, free range eggs.  The eggs remain raw in mayonnaise, so your best bet is to raise your own, or to get your eggs from a local farmer that you know well.   Factory farmed store eggs are likely to have salmonella contamination.
Take the egg yolk and the lemon juice and beat them together well.  Then while beating with the whisk by hand or mixing with your mixer, drizzle in the first ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 tbsp at a time into the egg-lemon juice mixture.  The mixture will begin to thicken.  Add the oil very slowly while you whisk, making sure that you whisk the oil in completely before adding additional oil.
Your mixture will begin to come together and lighten in colour.  Add the mustard and salt and continue beating.  Once the mixture begins to thicken, slowly drizzle the final ½ cup of oil into the centre of the mixture, beating to incorporated all the oil as you pour.  Stop the beaters and scrape the side of the bowl if necessary to incorporate all the oil, before drizzling more in.
If you are using farm fresh eggs, your mayonnaise will be a golden yellow colour.  It will be very thick and ready to use as soon as it thickens.  Refrigeration will thicken it further.  It will stay fresh for a week if kept refrigerated.  Recipe may be doubled, but don’t make more than you can eat in a week.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ask Granny... Can you stack home canned foods?

Q. Can you stack home canned foods for storage?

A. Yes, but you need to do it safely...

Photo from

Jars should never be stacked just one on top of the other, this can cause seal breakage.

They can be stacked as long as there is something like cardboard or thin plywood between the stacks. Like this...

Photo from Wikipedia
... or 

Photo from
Simply put the jars back into the jar boxes after filling them and it's safe to stack the jars... but I wouldn't stack them too high, not over 2 or 3.


Found this handy dandy tote at

They do sell jar storage boxes like the one picture above for extra safety. In my opinion, they're a little pricey, but if you live in an earthquake zone, it might be worth the investment.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Canning Kale and Other Greens

We've had kale growing all winter in our garden. I've made kale chips, eaten steamed kale, fed kale to the chickens regularly... and it just keeps growing...

Now that spring has arrived, we needed to make room in our garden for our summer crops, so I chopped down all the kale and ended up with a wheelbarrow full and overflowing... so I decided to can some of it... whatever didn't get canned could go to the chickens... they love the stuff... it's like chicken candy to them!

The following method of canning works for kale and any other greens (spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, collards, etc.)

I chopped the kale into  bite-sized pieces and removed all the tough stems and yellow pieces. Then I rinsed it several times to remove any dirt and sand and bugs... sand seems to cling to greens so it takes several rinses!

Then I filled my two biggest stockpots to the brim with kale and covered it with water to blanch... over medium heat I brought it to a boil until the greens were wilted down nicely... you don't want to raw pack greens, they cook down too much, you'd end up with  two bites of greens and a whole lot of water!

Meanwhile I boiled my pint jars and lids and kept them hot until I was ready for them.

Once the kale had wilted down, I began filling my jars with the greens using a slotted spoon.

I added liquid from the cooking pot whenever necessary to cover the greens, leaving a one inch headspace. I removed any air bubbles and adjusted the liquid as needed. I added a half teaspoon of canning salt to each pint (this is optional).

I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth and tightened on my hot lids and rings to fingertip tightness.

I processed my jars of kale in my pressure canner at 10-11 pounds pressure for 70 minutes (quarts would be 90 minutes). After processing, I turned off the heat and let the canner cool down naturally (don't rush it or you might get broken jars!) Once the pressure in the canner reached zero, I took off the lid and removed the jars using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool... and to listen for the PING! of each successfully sealed jar!

I ended up canning 16 pints of kale... still had quite a mountain of greens left in my wheelbarrow... the chickens enjoyed some as a treat... and the rest went into the compost bin... I still have one more row of kale to harvest... I think I'll dehydrate the rest... Love me some kale chips as a snack!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lightning Bugs in a Jar

I found the above photo in "wallpapers" and downloaded it on my smartphone... I love looking at it and all the fond memories it brings back of childhood and summer.

We've just begun seeing a few lightning bugs (for you folks who prefer... fireflies) in our yard... and they always say "Summer" to me... warm evenings and staying out on the porch until after dark.

My brothers and I, like many children, were eager to capture the tiny lights... in jars... and did so every chance we got... catching lightning bugs in the dark, our bare feet cool in the summer grass... I can close my eyes and still feel and smell and see those summer evenings.

Mama and Daddy would sit out on the porch on summer evenings, talking about their day and enjoying a glass of sweet tea before it was time for the chaos of bathing dirty children and getting everyone ready for bed... we, of course, ran around in the yard as long as we possibly could, playing hide-n-seek in the dark and catching lightning bugs.

We'd run past Mama and Daddy into the house... Mama would call out, "What are ya'll doing?"

"Gotta get a jar!!! We're catching lightning bugs!"

"Make sure you get a mayonnaise jar! Don't use my good jars!"

We would fish out a jar, find an old mayonnaise lid, grab a knife and punch holes in the top so the bugs could breathe... and off we'd go, stalking the flickering insects til they landed in the cool damp grass and we could catch 'em... fun times!

Looking back on this simple summer fun, I've thought about those children that we were... and what we just automatically knew... about canning jars...

We knew the difference between a mayonnaise jar and Mama's "good" jars... the Mason Jars... we knew those jars were important to "putting up food" for winter...

Mama knew we could be trusted to "find" a jar... use a sharp tool (knife) to poke holes in the lid... she didn't rush in to find our "equipment" for us... my Mama was no "helicopter Mom"... she raised us to do some things ourselves... as I see so many "hovering mothers" these days, ever afraid their little darlings will get hurt and doing so much for them that they don't learn to do for themselves... I am thankful for my Mama and her sensible approach to our upbringing!

Hunting lightning bugs wouldn't have been as much fun if Mama had done all the work for us!

Here's to summer evenings and lightning bugs in jars! And Mamas who let kids be kids! I miss you Mama!
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