Mayonnaise, often shortened to mayo in casual use, is a creamy emulsion of egg yolks, oil, salt, lemon juice and mustard. There are any number of uses for mayonnaise, many of which have little to do with its appeal as a food. It can be used on sandwiches, as a base for dressings, as a dip, or even for various beauty treatments.
Some mayonnaise recipes call for vinegar in place of lemon juice, or various gourmet oils such as olive or safflower oil. The ingredients are blended until the egg yolk and oil form a stable suspension of fat globules. This sauce has been a staple of French cooking for centuries, but only became commercially available in the United States in 1905.
Perhaps one of its most common uses is as a condiment for sandwiches, along with ketchup, mustard, and relish. Many sandwich meats are very lean, which may improve their flavor but do little for the overall "mouth feel" of the sandwich. A thin layer of mayonnaise spread across the bread provides moisture and the satisfying feeling of fats. Used as a condiment, it works well on hamburgers, cold cuts and deli sandwiches.
One of the other uses for mayonnaise is as a base for salad dressings or sauces. Adding pickle relish, chopped onions, or cabbage to it can create a good tartar sauce for fish dishes. Blending it with ketchup and relish yields a decent Russian dressing for Reuben sandwiches. Mayonnaise can also be used as a binder for cold salads such as chicken, tuna or seafood salads. More elaborate sauces may call its use base with additional herbs and spices heated in a saucepan.
Over the years, consumers have developed other uses for mayonnaise. Some prefer it to ketchup as a dipping sauce for french fries, known as chips outside of the United States. It is also used in certain fruit dips, after a bit of sweetening has been added. It is not unusual to find containers of mayonnaise alongside ketchup and mustard in European bistros and cafes.
Once consumers leave the confines of the culinary world, there are a surprising number of uses for mayonnaise:
- It can be used as a natural hair conditioner. Individuals can massage some into the hair, much in the same way as a normal post-shampoo conditioner. The person can then cover her head with a shower cap and allow the sauce to remain on the hair for several minutes. It should be rinsed thoroughly, and the result should be shinier and softer hair.
- Mayonnaise can also be used as a facial cleanser. A person can apply a layer as he would a deep cleansing facial soap. After 15 or 20 minutes, it can be wiped off and the face rinsed thoroughly. The oils and salt in the sauce can restore moisture and remove impurities.
- In case of a sunburn emergency, cold mayonnaise can be applied to the affected area. The coolness of the mayo will reduce the pain and the oil will provide much-needed moisture.
- Some physicians are now recommending mayonnaise to fight head lice infections. Certain strains of head lice have become very resistant to the traditional chemical treatments, but leaving mayonnaise in the hair overnight with a shower cap will cause the lice to suffocate and die. Any remaining nits can be combed out with a fine tooth comb, and the process repeated seven days later.
- It can also be used to lubricate stubborn rings. If a ring becomes too tight to remove, the wearer can try applying a generous amount of mayo to the entire finger, especially under the ring itself. Mayonnaise is very slippery, so it should reduce the friction well enough to allow removal of the ring.
- People can also remove bumper stickers and residue with mayonnaise. A layer applied to the remnants of a bumper sticker should soften the paper and dissolve the glue after several minutes.