Posted 09 April 2007 - 06:35 PM
First of all, I am not an expert, I just have practical experience, quite a few years of it, but my methods are not the be-all and end-all of mayonnaise production. :)
I learned to make mayonnaise (back in the dark ages) with a pinch of sugar - that was just the way it was done because it seemed to work better - and we used whole eggs.
We also used chilled ingredients - I have to admit that it was not chilled as in a refrigerator, because eggs were not kept in the fridge, they were kept in a room that held a spring-fed cistern that was pretty chilly, even in the middle of summer.
And then there is the question of room temperature...
"Room temperature" can vary considerably - my kitchen, without air conditioning, can easily reach triple digits in summer. A friend who lived in a house in Yorkshire, England for a year, said she often wore her longies and a sweater, even in summer. She sent me an email during August, requesting I not complain about the 100-degree temps here, because she was sitting in her kitchen at two in the afternoon and it had yet to get to 15 degrees Celsius = 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
I will continue to make mine the way I have been doing successfully for close to 60 years. If room temp works for you, by all means do it that way. Your kitchen - your choice.
It is possible that the sugar adds a bit of friction - I don't think there is any argument that sugar does have an effect on casein - it has been proved in laboratory studies that sugar has an enzymatic action on the casein in egg yolks, as well as in milk, that makes the casein more "gluey" so to speak.
Painters using egg tempera paint on resistant surfaces, learned that a tiny pinch of sugar increased its adhesivness.
Anyway, who cares what works, as long as it works for you.
I don't think in most cases there is enough sugar to actually affect the taste all that much.
You also have to also think about the times that these old recipes were formulated.
In the 1930s and during WWII, eggs were expensive. They were used sparingly unless one lived on a farm or had a few chickens.
It would have been considered incredibly wasteful to use just the yolk of an egg and there wasn't much one could do with the white of just one egg. (who knew from egg white omelets back then?)
So that is one social reason.
In the UK they did without mayonnaise for years during and after WWII because eggs were scarce, non-existant or rationed. They had lots of recipes for mayonnaise substitutes, most of which would have horrified any ordinary French homemaker.
Regarding the bit about blender mayonnaise.
First of all, the volume of a single egg yolk is not great enough to actually blend easily before adding the oil, and egg yolks can be tricky - too much heat - produced by the rapid speed of the blender blades, can actually "cook" the yolks before they begin to emulsify.
Having had this experience first hand, when making a batch of lemon curd, I know whereof I speak. I had lumps, suspiciously similar to scrambled eggs, which I fortunately noticed prior to using the beaten yolks. Straining them revealed some congealed stuff. Never made that mistake again. (That Vita-Mix is a very powerful blender!)
In any event, there are probably thousands of ways to produce mayonnaise. I like these old hand mixers, the little electric "mixettes" as well as the big mixers.
I've even seen a batch whipped up with a whisk made of strips of bamboo, during a visit to Hawaii many years ago.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
" Terry PratchettMy blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening