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Friday 15 December 2017

Pricepoints: Mayonnaise

It's easy to make, so what can go wrong?

Mayonnaise is claimed as a French invention, but most Mediterranean countries have a mayonnaise-like sauce.

It seems that wherever there were eggs and olive oil, the two were beaten together to make a sauce, and were flavoured with a little acidity, such as garlic, lemons, mustard or vinegar.

All the brands in the test mentioned mustard in the ingredients, so it seems likely they were attempting to make a French-style mayonnaise (Spanish mayonnaise does not contain mustard).

Some of the mayonnaise brands contained strange thickening and preservative ingredients, such as xanthan gum and potassium sorbate.

Given that the winning mayonnaise had no preservatives and yet had comparable sell-by and use-by information, it begs the question, are preservatives really needed?

Only the French mayonnaise (Delouis) looked like a natural product, as all the others were pristine white with no trace of the natural light-yellow colour of a homemade version.

Some readers may feel it is unfair to compare these brands to homemade mayonnaise, but this really is the benchmark by which they must be judged.

To make homemade mayonnaise by hand only takes a few minutes but requires some practice. However, anyone can make a very acceptable quick version using a mixer or food processor.

Break an egg into a processor, add a teaspoon of French mustard, turn on the machine and gradually add a mix of sunflower and olive oil in a stream until you have the correct texture.

Finish with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar, and a little salt and pepper, to taste. This takes approximately three minutes.

The brands were tasted blind by a panel of home cooks.

Delouis Mayonnaise -- €3.49 per 250ml (Mortons, Ranelagh)

This is a rich, yellow-coloured, creamy mayonnaise that tastes homemade with flavours of lemon, vinegar and mustard. The ingredients are egg yolk, mustard, sunflower oil, vinegar and salt -- the same ingredients I use myself when making it. Expensive, but worth it. 8.5/10

Superquinn Real Mayonnaise -- €1.99 per 250ml

This only contains standard ingredients, as above, plus an antioxidant. Creamy, fairly rich taste of vinegar and salt with a hint of egg. Good balance of flavours and a pleasant creamy finish. Pretty good. 7/10

Aldi Bramwells Irish Mayonnaise -- €1.19 per 500ml

This contained thickeners and preservatives, but also had the lowest number of calories of all the samples, at 452kcal per 100g (the others averaged around 700). This had a salty, vinegary taste but a good balance between the two. Not bad at all and a fantastic price. Best Value. 6.5/10

Dunnes Real Mayonnaise -- €1.95 per 450ml

Made with free-range eggs and with no added ingredients except an antioxidant. Light, creamy and salty taste, some strong vinegar flavours, but overall a fairly clean, fresh- tasting mayonnaise. 6/10

Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise -- €2.59 per 400ml

Strong, salty taste, some creamy elements and hint of egg, but overall the salt flavour was what stood out. When it was revealed that this was the Hellmann's, there was general surprise that it did not perform better. 5.5/10

SuperValu Mayonnaise -- €2.15 per 450ml

The ingredients list contained only an antioxidant along with eggs and vinegar, etc. Odd sweet-and-sour flavour followed by a lingering taste of strong salt and vinegar. 4/10

Lidl Vitakrone Mayonnaise -- €1.19 per 500ml

Salty with a clear spirit-vinegar taste that bears a closer resemblance to salad cream. A good price, but sadly not a good taste. 3.5/10

Lakeshore Marvellous Mayonnaise -- €1.99 per 280ml

This contains various thickening gums and preservatives, and only comes in a squeezy bottle. Light texture with an initial salty flavour followed by a very obvious and harsh vinegar taste. No, thank you very much. 3/10

Tesco Mayonnaise -- €1. 95 per 450ml

The ingredients list is simple but uninspiring (e.g. reconstituted lemon juice -- why not actual lemon juice?). Harsh vinegar taste with a strange milky flavour. Yuck. 2/10

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