Make Your Own Mayo! Chemistry Meets Condiment

Mayonnaise is one of those foods you either loathe or simply can’t live without. For folks in the fan club, it’s a key ingredient for turning the mundane into something magical: tuna or chicken salad, deviled eggs, hot corn, a ham sandwich—pretty much any one-note dish that could use some creamy tang. Next time you open the jar only to discover that you’re plum out, first grumble about people who put empty jars back in fridges—then ask your kid to help you make it fresh and turn it into a teaching moment.

The lesson: Emulsion! It only requires five ingredients, takes one minute, and the end result is way more delicious than store-bought. Y’all ready for this? Because we’re about to get technical with homemade mayonnaise.

An emulsion is a stable mixture of two or more liquids that wouldn’t normally mix together, like oil and lemon juice. These un-blendable ingredients are called immiscible liquids, which need a third ingredient (an emulsifier) that’s down to party with both. These peace-making emulsifiers are made up of molecules that have two different ends—one that loves to create bonds with water (hydrophilic), and one that doesn’t (hydrophobic), but digs bonding with oil. It just goes to show you, sometimes three isn’t a crowd.

Before whipping up your homemade mayonnaise, have your child mix a little oil and lemon juice in a bowl with a spoon to observe how they won’t mix. But if she whips in an emulsifier—like egg yolks—those unfriendly liquids will join forces to produce a smooth, creamy mayo right before her eyes! Find the full recipe below.

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!

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