The Raw Egg Manifesto
Almost every time I tell people I make my own mayo, I get a little side eye. Inevitably I’ll get a question asking, “You really eat raw eggs?!” And the answer is yes, I do, and I feed it to my family, too! This is a personal choice I made after doing my research and deciding where my priorities are in terms of the food we consume. If the raw egg is just NOT gonna happen for you because it gives you the willies and the perceived risk is too much, then you do you, boo! I can completely understand that. There are plenty of other healthy fat sources and even a few items on the grocery store shelves you can buy.
I’ve found that this works for us, so I’m sharing why I continue to feed myself and my family this recipe even with the raw egg in it. Some of these points are personal decisions based on our unique family and some have come from the research I have done.
Why I’m Not Worried About the Raw Egg in Homemade Mayo
- Pasteurization is the law. All U.S. commercially sold eggs must be pasteurized, per the FDA’s Egg Products Inspection Act. The pasteurization process heats the egg in the shell to a temperature that kills bacteria but doesn’t quite cook the egg. While I get most of our eggs from a friend’s backyard chickens, I occasionally buy 1 dozen from the grocery store and I prioritize using store-bought for any egg-based condiments or sauces, like mayo. If needed I will use the backyard chicken eggs for mayo, though, but that’s my own personal decision! If you’re wanting to make your own mayo but the risk of bacteria like salmonella (YUCK) is your main hesitation, try sticking to conventional eggs from the store, because the law says those must be pasteurized.
- The acid in the recipe helps to kill bacteria too. This article recommends using vinegar instead of lemon juice, as it’s more effective at killing the bacteria. It also recommends, as does Alton Brown of the show Good Eats (Any other AB fans out there? anyone?), leaving the mayo at room temperature for over 24 hours to allow the acid to do it’s bacteria-killing magic. I never do this, mainly because when I make mayo, I’m using it the same day. But the science seems to be there! If you have the forethought to prepare that far in advance, I salute you.
- Real talk- expat life ruined me for this topic. Many countries in the world don’t pasteurize their eggs, keep them at various temperatures (there’s a reason for all of this, by the way), and so forth. I know that our immune systems have adapted to the country we grew up in, but when we lived in Asia for a year, once our guts got over the initial shock of new foods all day every day, we had relatively no issues except with the occasional too-spicy hot pot. I was even pregnant there for 18 weeks without any food borne illness scares. (NOTE: When preparing food for others, such as in my meal prep business and at my family’s restaurant, I am ruthless with food safety standards. I’m a rule follower, after all, and I want to uphold the integrity of the business, first and foremost.)
- Our family are relatively healthy and don’t meet any of the low-immune system descriptions: elderly, infants, immune-compromised, pregnant, etc. That said, I’m not sure I’ll continue my current trend of raw egg consumption if I’m ever pregnant again. I’ll have the wisdom to make that decision when it’s time. Also, I don’t use homemade mayo in Rosie’s tube blends because when food is blended and broken down like that, you must be extra cautious of food borne illnesses. One day I might consider it, but for now we avoid it for her. Honestly, it hasn’t come up much because I we give her healthy fats from sources other than mayo, like avocado and coconut oil.
- The odds of contamination are low with any pasteurized raw egg, 1/10,000- 1/20,000 to be not exact at all. When I consider all the smart switches we’ve made to avoid long-term health issues, I’m unconcerned with the issue of raw eggs in my homemade mayonnaise. Look, I know salmonella can be deadly! I cook my meat carefully and try to only use pasteurized eggs when consuming raw. I think the raw eggs we do consume have a very low chance of making us ill. The result of coming to this conclusion for myself and our family is that I have the option of making a healthy fat source without added sugar, MSG, or rotten oils and using it for my cooking. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either. That’s completely worth it for me!
As always, please remember-
I am neither scientist, nor doctor, nor dietician, nor food safety expert. I am only a mom considering all factors and making the decision that is best and wisest for her family right now.
Do you make homemade mayo? Does the raw egg component freak you out?