The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
January 9, 2009

Plastic, Glass, Egg Salad, & Global Warming

My lunch today… it illustrates some of the choices (or false choices) we sometimes find ourselves making where the environment is concerned.

I wanted an egg salad sandwich, but I didn’t have any mayonnaise in the house. I could have walked down to the corner store to buy some more, but there I’d be confronted with the choice of plastic or glass jars. I could have simply opted for the glass jar and been done with it, but lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of companies about how their plastic containers are better for the environment because they weigh less and therefore require less fuel to ship.

This is true.

Plastic does weigh less than glass, and it does require less fuel to ship. Perhaps, as far as global warming is concerned, it’s the better choice. But global warming is not our only environmental concern. Plastic, as I’ve written here often, carries with it a whole host of toxicity and pollution issues. And, just as the choice to carry reusable bags makes the question of plastic vs. paper meaningless, there are options to make the question of plastic vs glass containers moot as well!

In the case of dry ingredients, we can often bring our own containers to bulk foods stores and eliminate the need for any new packaging entirely. But what about wet stuff? I have yet to see a bulk container of mayonnaise, and if I did, I think I’d be kind of scared. So, what’s the third option for mayonnaise and other wet condiments?

Make your own!

In the case of mayonnaise, this third option also happens to be really easy, as I discovered today when I whipped up a batch of homemade mayo from a recipe passed on to me by an octogenarian friend who swears she has never bought a jar of prepared mayonnaise in her life. Here are the ingredients:


1 Whole Egg
2 T. Vinegar or Lemon Juice (I used vinegar because I was out of lemons)
1/2 t. Dry Mustard
1/2 t. Salt
1 Cup Salad Oil (I used canola, but you can use any kind you want. Next time I’ll use olive oil for more flavor.)

Place egg, vinegar or lemon juice, seasonings, and 1/4 cup of the oil in the blender in the order indicated. Put on cover. Run blender until contents are thoroughly blended, about 5 seconds. Remove cover. Add remaining oil gradually and run for a few seconds after last oil is added. YIELD: About 1-1/4 cups.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT add all of the oil at once. Do not do this unless you want to waste a whole cup of oil. Remember how I said this recipe is easy? It’s super easy if you read the instructions and follow them. (Anyone have an idea for how I can use my first failed batch?) The second batch came out perfectly.

This recipe came from the instructions for my friend’s Waring blender. Next time, I’m going to try it using a wire whisk instead, as per these instructions from Epicurious.com. Less (electric) energy. Less cleanup mess.

So, here’s my mayonnaise, made from ingredients most of us already have in the house. And yes, it tastes just like the store-bought stuff. Maybe even better.

For the egg salad, I combined the mayo and eggs with Goulden’s spicy mustard from a jar we already had. But once that’s gone, I’ll try making it from scratch as well. Here’s info about making mustard from powder or seeds. Once my mustard powder in the plastic container is used up, I can replace it with bulk mustard powder or seeds from Whole Foods.

Do you have any favorite condiment recipes?

I’m grateful to the people I know were around long before this current age of convenience foods and packaging that is helping to destroy our environment. My friend makes her own mayo in the interest of frugality, not “green living.” She’s a super waste-buster. I and the polar bears thank her.

Now, a post about egg salad would not be complete without a nod to Mystery Men. Enjoy!

Note: This post was written as part of the Green Moms Carnival whose theme this month is Global Warming. It will be published on Monday, January 12, at The Not Quite Crunchy Parent blog.

47 comments
Ann Lamb
Ann Lamb

For a failed batch, start with another egg and blend in the "failure" slowly, as if it were just the oil. I grew up without experiencing store-bought mayonnaise. Mother always made her own in a Wesson Oil glass churn offered in the 1930s. Her secret ingredient? 1/4 t curry powder. Usually used Tarragon vinegar, as well. I have her churn, and the Wesson Oil churns are still sometimes available on Ebay. Someone else offered a churn back in the 70s, but there must be warehouses full of them somewhere as they were not a success. I believe the Joy of Cooking has a hand-whisked recipe.

Jayme
Jayme

Hi Beth! What a great post, and I really enjoyed reading everyone else's insight as well! The only thing that kept me from making my own homemade mayo was the salmonella risk. I'm going to try this though! Thanks for all of the inspiration and hard work! I know its not easy going plastic free, and I'm trying to purchase less! ( I have a deep love of my Tupperware, but its not just used one and thrown away) I will ban plastic zipper bags in my house once this last box is finished. There are only so many times you can wash and reuse them before they fall apart or are no longer air tight! I look forward to your posts and sharing what I've learned!

Katy Farber
Katy Farber

Beth,Wow-- I do hate mayonnaise too (like Kim above). Too white and goopy. BUT-- I often ponder the glass and plastic debate at the store. Add to it the idea that plastics leech all kinds of nasty chemicals into us that I am inclned to stick with glass. Yours is the better solution!Katy www.non-toxickids.net

Mama Lavender
Mama Lavender

First, thanks for the inspiration to give making my own mayo a try! Not sure why but this has not been something I've felt up to trying before now - but we're almost out of mayo so here goes!Second, thanks for the yummy idea for dinner! It's leftover night here at our house and yet we have only leftover rice so instead I'll save the rice and make egg salad sandwiches and watch them while enjoying our guilty pleasure - American Idol :)

ruchi aka arduous
ruchi aka arduous

I think I need to move back to the Bay Area and make you and GB feed me. That's all.

mother earth aka karen hanrahan
mother earth aka karen hanrahan

some of my glass jars have been with me through thick and thin, that is how in my mind i justify buying glass - it's such a forgiving medium and way more re-usable than plastic...i adore roasted garlic mayogreat post beth

Christine Gardner
Christine Gardner

Beth - what a great reminder that often what we really need or want can be attained without running out the door to purchase it. Life is so full of short-cuts that we know aren't usually very healthy for us or for our environment. Thank you for a great twist on avoiding an unnecessary trip to the corner deli and still enjoying a perfectly delicious meal!

Jenn
Jenn

Fantastic article Beth. I love to make my own food, sauces, and condiments whenever possible. But I never realized how easy it was to make mayo! And I love how you tied it in to the global warming theme. People always think it takes so much time to do things like this, but it probably didn't take you any longer than it would have to go to the store to buy mayo. Thanks for the reminder!! And thanks for sharing your lunch!

Lynn from organicmania.com
Lynn from organicmania.com

Wow Beth, now you inspire me on a whole other level...not just plastic reduction, but cooking! I am out of mayo and have also recently promised my DH (after 10 years of marriage) that I will finally start cooking more...or at least doing prep. I also recently got a VitaMix mixer...so this sounds like something I could easily whip up in that! Maybe it will even be my first recipe!

Steph @ Greening Families
Steph @ Greening Families

One of my favorite unexpected benefits of eating more whole, local foods is how much better it all tastes!Last summer we picked blackberries and made a simple cobbler with some of them. We used the following recipe from The Berry Bible.2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter6 cups fresh berries, rinsed and drained 2/3 cup sugar1 cup all-purpose flour1 tsp. baking powder1/3 cup milkPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the butter in an 8-inch square glass baking pan and melt it in the oven, being careful not to let the butter burn. Remove from the oven and let cool. Add the fruit to the baking pan and spread it out evenly to fill it no more than two-thirds full. Stir together the flour, remaining sugar, and the baking powder. Pour in the milk and stir until just blended. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter over the fruit. Do not mix it in. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.I still have dreams about that cobbler!

organicneedle
organicneedle

I am always shocked that people buy salad dressing. My 4 favorites to make are so simple.Mustard Vinaigrette- any mustard, olive oil, any vinegar, + herbsCarrot Tahini- Toss carrots, tahini, a touch of any oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the blender.Blue Cheese- Blue cheese, pepper and yogurt blendedCucumber Mint- Cucumber, mint, pepper and yogurt blendedHomemade mayo is tasty...but with wee ones in the house the raw eggs are still a little iffy.

Rosa
Rosa

Our coop has bulk refills for non-processed wet stuff - oils, honey, vinegars, plus non-edible stuff like dish soap. I could totally make this with 0 packaging (we refill the paper egg cartons.)I made ketchup this summer for the first time, and I'm not completely sold on it (i used the Ball blue book recipe and I think I like less warm spices and more sharpness). My kid likes it a lot, though - we've gone through 3 pints since September. Thank you for the encouragement, Beth! I've tried so many new things since I started reading your blog.

Jenny
Jenny

Tomato KetchupPreparation time less than 30 minsCooking time 30 mins to 1 hourIngredients6kg/13lb ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped8 medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced2 large red peppers, seeds and white filament removed, chopped150g/5oz soft brown sugar500ml/17fl oz cider vinegar1 tsp mustard½ tsp large piece of cinnamon stick1 tbsp whole allspice1 tbsp whole cloves1 tbsp ground mace1 tbsp celery seeds1 tbsp black peppercorns2 bay leaves1 garlic clove, peeled and bruisedsaltpaprika, to taste (optional)Method1. Combine the tomatoes, onion and peppers in a large heavy pan over a medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very soft. Push through a coarse-mesh sieve and return to the pot with the sugar, vinegar and mustard. Tie the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, mace, celery seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic in a square of muslin and drop it into the stew. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer. Continue to cook, allowing it to bubble gently, stirring often and carefully, for at least 10-20 minutes, until thoroughly blended and quite thick.2. Leave to cool, remove the muslin bag of spices, then pour the mixture through a funnel into suitable bottles. Stored in the fridge this ketchup will keep for a month. If you follow the prescribed procedure for preserves and bottle in properly sterilised jars, it should keep for a year.

John Costigane
John Costigane

Hi again Beth.Homemade is certainly a good Zero Waste effort.I apologise about the lengthy explanation earlier. The real point is that you should stick to your guns on the issue of plastic waste. This has been a great help to my own Zero Waste challenge.

will terry
will terry

Beth you're my hero sister! You saw a problem and solved it in a creative way! You practice what you preach and that is admirable!W

... It's The Journey
... It's The Journey

Home-made Mayonaise, nothing like it,... my Mom makes it, her Mom made it and OMG I gotta teach my kids!

Fake Plastic Fish
Fake Plastic Fish

Erin -- The reusable glass bottles require fuel to transport back for refilling. As I recall, there was a study done to determine if they are more environmentally-sound than plastic, and the result was that they are only if they are reused a certain minimum number of times. But I'm sorry, I don't remember that number. Maybe someone else could look it up?John -- you wrote, "Zero Waste, Sustainability and Renewable Energy are my interests and these stand as good activities independent of Global Warning, true or false." I'm with you there. And homemade egg salad is in line with those values too! :-)Anonymous -- Are you my dad?Diane -- you are right. It would be nice for someone to do a definitive study of plastic vs. glass (a studied no funded by the plastic or glass industries) but minimizing all types of packaging would be helpful regardless of the results!ckutler -- yes, like Anna's, my vinegar and oil come in glass, and I can obtain dry mustard from a bulk bin once the plastic container is used up. But if you don't have access to non-plastic containers, then simply buying fewer ingredients in larger sizes and mixing up condiments from scratch will cut down on the number of plastic containers over all, no?Anna -- I am woefully behind on reading blogs, but I just checked out your tomato sauce post. What fun. I was almost ready to order my own tomato press until you mentioned the cleanup. Feh. That's the reason I rarely use my soy milk maker.

Diane MacEachern
Diane MacEachern

What a great article. It really makes the point about the need for standards, does't it? It would be so great if some independent third party could do calculations on all the variables and pronounce which was better, the plastic or the glass (I'm with you on the toxins in plastic, but am also aware of the air toxins generated when fossil fuels are burned, and since moving glass burns more fossil fuels and then releases more air toxins...well). Standards would help!

JessTrev
JessTrev

Yum! That looks lovely and, although I share Kim's general loathing of the mayo, I do love me some egg salad, and deviled eggs, both of which require - bingo! I have been daydreaming about making vinegar lately but have not done it. Hmmmm... only condiment I make is salad dressing. My grandmother's recipe: olive oil, red wine vinegar, a few garlic cloves chopped up, a bay leaf or two, salt n pepper, and some ketchup (back to making something else, tho!). Mmmmm.

Anonymous
Anonymous

If your first batch of mayo fails, it is easy to reclaim it. Put an egg in the blender and add the first batch of mayo very gradually while the blender is running. It should incorporate and give you think mayo. YL

John Costigane
John Costigane

There is a lot of evidence against Global Warming so I remain sceptical.Zero Waste, Sustainability and Renewable Energy are my interests and these stand as good activities independent of Global Warning, true or false.

John Costigane
John Costigane

Erin,An eminent geological scientist has been measuring sea-level for 25years plus. He claims that the data used for sea-level projections was faulty because part of the measured increase was due to land sinking due to geological movement. Projections from this were therefore faulty. 31,000 scientists is a sizeable community yet to be convinced of this Global Warming. Check it on Google.As a scientist myself, I expect accuracy of data as a standard. Where this is absent questions must be raised.

Anna (Green Talk)
Anna (Green Talk)

@Ckutler, I actually only buy my vinegar, oil, and dijon mustard in glass. I keep most of my bottles for making sauce.Does anyone have a recipe for making oregano oil? or sage butter?Beth, I was hoping you saw my post on my manual tomato paste maker? I thought of you when making my sauce.

Veronique
Veronique

cultural difference :I would say in France everyone knows how to whip (usually manually) a mayonnaise and the exception would be to buy some at the store for an emergency...but my Mom is a real "cordon bleu" and she taught me a lotdo you think the way to consume being different on various continents/countries, the plastic issue is therefore different ?I would really appreciate to have feedback from Americans.

ckutler
ckutler

No if only I could get the vinegar, oil, and mustard in non-plastic containers. Do I really decrease plastic usage by buying the source of the mayo in plastic instead of the completed product? As mayo has a lot of air in it, I probably reduce my plastic usage by just a tad.

Martin
Martin

Hi Beth,We make our own mayonnaise all the time now. I hold onto the steel bowl while Catherine whisks the oil into the egg yolk. That's pretty much all that I know about it. It is tastier than anything we can buy. We use local lemons. We tried a batch or two with local bulk purchased olive oil but we found the taste to be too strong. This country also produces sunflower oil, which seems to be the best tasting and healthiest choice.

A Slice of the Pie
A Slice of the Pie

My kids have been missing ketchup. I tried making some using tomato paste and the other assorted things I taste when I eat ketchup; I didn't use a recipe. I think it turned out quite well, but the kids seem like they will need time to adjust to the different flavor. I do love mayo and yours looks quite tasty! I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but I am moving towards eliminating eggs from my diet, so I will be trying out some vegan mayo recipes soon.

greeen sheeep
greeen sheeep

My grandma always makes her own mayo. I used to think she was nuts until I started making my own condiments. So simple.One of my favorites: BBQ Sauce1/4 cup ketchup2 tablespoons brown sugar1 tablespoon cider vinegar1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1/4 teaspoon Chipotle Chile powderCombine all ingredients in microwave safe glass bowl, stirring well. Microwave at high one minute or until thoroughly heated. That's it!If you are cooking with it, you can skip the microwave and add it directly to your warm pan containing pork chops, meatloaf, whatever.You can also play with the seasonings to suit your liking.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Erin aka Conscious Shopper

John Costigane,Watch this video about the effect of rising sea levels on small Pacific nations such as Kiribati, where a friend of mine served in the Peace Corps and saw the effects first hand:http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/449/index.htmlThe cause of climate change might be debatable (though I don't think it is), but whether or not it's a real issue is not debatable.

knutty knitter
knutty knitter

My favourite recipe is a cooked one with no egg. Its also tastier than most.one and a half cups cold waterone small cup vinegarone teaspoon salthalf a cup of sugarthree teaspoons mustard (wet not dry)about one tablespoon buttertwo tablespoons flour mixed to medium paste with watercook in a double boiler until thick but don't boil. Cool, bottle and keep in the fridge.I'm not sure where this recipe came from originally but it is in grandmas cook book and she wrote that mostly around 1929.viv in nz

John Costigane
John Costigane

Hi Beth,This must be my first, and hopefully last, disagreement with your posts. Global Warming is not a real issue. 31,000 US scientists have signed a petition detailing the false data used to predict future sea levels. The data is wrong so the projections from it are wrong.

Green Bean
Green Bean

Okay, I totally "get" the point of this post. Global warming is just one of the environmental challenges facing us. I totally believe that, too. However, what I really take away from this is that I really want an egg salad sandwich. Actually, not just any egg salad sandwich. I really want YOURS with that wonderful homemade mayo. Be right over!

Anna (Green Talk)
Anna (Green Talk)

I love this recipe! You are my hero, Beth!Kim, are these recipes on your website?I have used the mayo in my hair idea, but it made it greasy. Did I use too much? Beer is great too.

The Pirate Farmer
The Pirate Farmer

What the fork! I love that movie. I'd be willing to make mayonnaise on request from anyone who knows The Spleen.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Erin aka Conscious Shopper

Beth - Don't know if you know the answer to this, but this is something I've been wondering...So plastic uses less energy to ship because it's lighter, but if you're reusing the glass instead of recycling it (like with the milk bottles that I return to the dairy at my farmer's market and then they wash them and reuse them), does it end up saving energy because nothing new is manufactured?

Anarres Natural Health
Anarres Natural Health

I make vegan mayo the same way.I use soymilk and a half lemon or lemon juice and some miso maybe, and I drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and other oils with the blender on high speed.Use your failed mayo in soup or to start up vegetables in a fry pan. Or wait until it separates and try again?Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt

How timely - I'm OUT of mayonaise and need it for picnic sandwiches tomorrow. Thank you for this reminder of how fast and easy things were BEFORE Kraft stepped in.

Tanya
Tanya

Hi Beth-I once made butter (by accident). I was trying to make homemade whipped cream and whipped it a little too long... If you'd like to try your hand at making butter, buy a carton of whipping cream and whip it until it seperates. That's it. Only one ingredient - whipping cream. However, you don't end up saving anything in terms of packaging because you still need to buy the whipping cream plus the time and energy it takes to whip it so this is one condiment you are probably better off buying in the store - cardboard + wax paper isn't too bad. :)

Chiot's Run
Chiot's Run

You don't really have to worry about the raw eggs if your buying local free-range eggs. I've been making my own mayonaise for quite a while, probably because my mom always did since we lived in another country and they didnt' have it. I use olive oil as well in mine. I also make with a wisk, it is much more work though. You can use your first failed batch for cooking I presume. Maybe in rice or something it would taste great. I'll have to make a batch for my hair like Julie suggests.

Juli
Juli

Use for that failed mayo batch: deep hair conditioning treatment! Goop up the hair, cover with a towel you don't mind getting slimy, wait 20 minutes, then wash it out.I have only done this once, but recently. My course wavy hair came out super smooth, like little girl hair-- but also flyaway frizzy! It took a lot of product to calm it down and then, after washing a couple days later and using my normal products, my hair was curlier and still VERY smooth. I'll probably do this again in a few of weeks. I think the protein of the egg makes for smoothness, the oil hydrates, and the acidity of the vinegar or lemon strips old gunk off the hair, making it light and flyaway, so, not something to be done too often.

Allie
Allie

I really need to get over my fear of raw eggs. Homemade mayo sounds good.

axelle
axelle

Just ask Google how many differing opinions there are on how long homemade mayonnaise can be kept and how to best make it. I made fresh mayo from one of the many recipes I found and although it tastes great, it's nothing like yours, which is big and fluffy and looks as if it could jump right out of the jar. I say, "Life's too short to spend it beating eggs if you already have a mixer" and I say "Spread one side of a piece of bread with your saggy mayonnaise and put it in a frying pan, mayo side down. On top of the bread put tomato and onion slices, s & p. Slap another piece of bread over that, spread your saggy mayo on the top of that piece. Turn on the heat and cook that baby until you think you should turn it over, then cook the other side" . You could add cheese to the tomato & onion but I think you're off cheese these days... You could give a teaspoon of saggy mayo to SuitScenario, your beautiful kitties.

Farmer's Daughter
Farmer's Daughter

My favorite condiment to make is applesauce. I can never understand why people buy it! There's nothing better than warm applesauce served with pork or chicken, and the leftovers are great for lunch.

Kim
Kim

Oh my goodness! I hate (HATE) mayonnaise...but do enjoy quite a few things that contain mayonnaise (egg salad being one of them.) As a result I don't purchase mayonnaise often, but do occasionally (and usually at the prompting of my BF who is dying for some on his sandwiches) and have recently been debating the plastic vs. glass jars...especially the glass jars have plastic lids anyway.In the last year or so I've started just making my own of tons of things (butter, peanut butter, garlic and onion powder...) and have been LOVING it...Mayo simply never occurred to me! I'm so excited now and I'm pretty sure I will never buy mayonnaise ever, ever again!As an aside, what happened when you added all of the oil at once? Maybe you could use the ruined batch in some sort of quick bread (I'm thinking zucchini...) appropriately substituting for the number of eggs and amount of oil required by the recipe?

I Feel Crazy
I Feel Crazy

Homemade mayonnaise is much much better than the store-bought stuff. That said, be aware that the homemade version does not keep for long, because of the raw egg and such--use it up in a day or three. Homemade mayonnaise is also perfect for experimenting with herbed/spiced versions, which can be really addictive.