For healthful eating, mayonnaise made with olive oil is being touted as the next big thing. But olive oil mayonnaise has been around a very long time. Olive oil has been used as a food for at least 6,000 years, according to olive oil purveyors Filippo Berio. Not surprisingly, the Romans used a sauce made of eggs and olive oil—the classic ingredients in mayonnaise. Some claim Spain invented mayonnaise in their Balearic Islands. Generally, however, the credit for developing true mayonnaise goes to the French—specifically, the Duke of Richelieu in 1756—and their traditional talent for all things having to do with sauces.
Homemade Olive Oil Mayonnaise
Many recipes for homemade mayonnaise use olive oil, such as these recipes from Michael Chu (everyone’s favorite Cooking Engineer), “Homemade Olive Oil;” the Healthy Hillbilly Housewife , “Homemade Low-Calorie Olive Oil Mayonnaise;” and Maki at the wonderful Just Hungry blog, “Homemade Mayonnaise Without Tears – Basics.”
At Just Hungry, Maki posts a very helpful, step-by-step guide to the initially tedious, but ultimately rewarding process of making homemade mayonnaise. (The tedium comes from the fact that mayonnaise is an emulsion. That is, it combines two liquids that don’t usually mix. As explained at How Stuff Works, an emulsion is created “by slowly [sloooowly] adding one ingredient to another while simultaneously mixing rapidly. ” )
Commercially-made Olive Oil Mayonnaise
The most popular American brands of mayonnaise are Hellmann’s (sold as the Best Foods brand in areas west of the Rocky Mountains) and Kraft. Hellmann’s and Kraft’s regular mayonnaise are made with soybean oil. Mayonnaises made with at least part of the fat coming from olive oil were introduced in 2008. Kraft’s Mayonnaise with Olive Oil contains olive oil as the first ingredient, then soybean oil and canola oil. Hellman’s version features Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the label, but actually contains more soybean oil than olive oil.
As a commercially available product, olive oil mayonnaise has been a long time coming. Almost 18 years before the introduction of mayonnaise with olive oil by the major brands, Florence Fabricant, writing for the New York Times, wrote a piece called, “It’s Summertime, Pass the Mayo.” One interesting mayo fact Fabricant brought to light was that sales of mayonnaise peak right around the Fourth of July. All that potato salad, tuna salad, macaroni salad, Waldorf salad , obviously, takes massive amounts of mayonnaise. And that is even before counting the millions of hamburger buns that need a creamy condiment.
More than sales figures, though, Fabricant’s 1990 perspective on Americans’ taste in mayonnaise shows just how much things have changed—and how long that change took. Fabricant played off the observations of Elizabeth David, whom Fabricant described as a “venerable English food writer.” Fabricant commented that Americans “seem to think of the flavor and texture of mayonnaise as that of the commercial kind, not homemade. And especially not homemade with olive oil, which Ms. David contended was the best kind.”
Fast forward to 2008 and mayonnaise with olive oil—finally—has hit the grocery shelves, the kitchen (and dining room) table, and the picnic basket.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil and the Mediterranean Diet
Much of the recent interest in olive oil, and products, such as mayonnaise, incorporating olive oil, has been piqued by recent nutritional and medical research and the appeal of the Mediterranean Diet. According to The Olive Oil Source, the Mediterranean Diet is not only about eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, fish and lean meats, and olive oil; it is about “sensible, tasty portions and slower, more enjoyable eating.”
Until recently, most of the health benefits of olive oil were attributed to its fatty acid profile, including the fact that it is rich in monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid. In “Olive Oil: More Potential Health Benefits Revealed,” Science-Based Health points to new discoveries on olive polyphenols and their role in heart and artery health. Research, such as that cited at The Olive Oil Source, also increasingly supports olive oil’s helpful role in regulating blood pressure.
My own accidental science experiment today at lunch got me thinking about the anti-artery clogging properties of olive oil. While making the traditional Sunday afternoon sandwiches, by chance I was using both Kraft Real Mayonnaise and Kraft Mayonnaise with Olive Oil. The containers told a story. The real mayo, which I love, was sticking to the sides of the box, as it’s been doing forever. (Have you noticed Kraft has repackaged its larger sizes of mayonnaise in rounded boxes?) But, in the container with the Kraft Mayonnaise with Olive Oil, none of the mayonnaise stuck to the sides of the bottle.
Somehow that seemed to me to be a graphic object lesson about olive oil compared to other oils when it comes to hardening of the arteries. Or, at the least, it was fascinating.
Mayonnaise with olive oil is a healthy choice; it’s also very tasty
Whether you make your own or buy it prepared, mayonnaise with olive oil can be a healthy and delicious addition to your condiment repertoire. You can even go beyond the usual and check out choices such as Ybarra Mayonesa Oliva, which uses Spanish olive oil, and Spectrum’s Artisan Olive Oil Mayonnaise (Organic). If you need further inspiration, or just enjoy browsing pictures of beautiful food, check out these photos and recipes using olive oil mayonnaise:
“Garden tomatoes, olive oil mayonnaise, toasted cheese bread, & pepper,” by Mrs. Reed.
“Chipotle BLT&A,” by Phwadsworth.
“Pomegranate Chicken Salad,” by Arsheffield.
“The 6,000 Year History of Olive Oil,” Filippo Berrio.
“Mayo Connections,” Mayo Net.
“Olive Oil Mayonnaise,” La Tienda.
Michael Chu, “Recipe for Homemade Mayonnaise,” Cooking for Engineers.
Susanne, “Homemade Low-Calorie Olive Oil Mayonnaise,” Healthy Hillbilly Housewife.
Maki, “Homemade Mayonnaise Without Tears (Basics),” Just Hungry.
“What is Mayonnaise?,” How Stuff Works.
Florence Fabricant, “It’s Summertime, So Pass the Mayo,” New York Times.
“Heart Disease and Olive Oil,” The Olive Oil Source.
“Olive Oil: More Potential Health Benefits Revealed,” Science Based Health.
Spectrum Organics: Artisan Olive Oil Mayonnaise (Organic), World Pantry.
Mrs. Reed, “Garden tomatoes, olive oil mayonnaise, toasted cheese bread, & pepper,” Flickr.
Phwadsworth, “Chipotle BLT&A,” Flickr.
Arsheffield, “Pomegranate Chicken Salad,” Flickr.