Homemade ranch dressing and mayonnaise is quick and easy to make — but what about food safety and the use of raw eggs?
Raw eggs are risky particularly for certain people and states of health. Raw eggs should not be used if pregnant or breast feeding, nor served to infants, children, elderly, and any who are ill or immune compromised.
However, eggs can be purchased which have actually been pasteurized in some areas — or you can pasteurize them at home.
Also, because they are so very nutrient rich and the egg whites provide such a nice slimy protective home, ultimately, eggs provide the most perfect culture medium for dangerous bacteria — in or out of the refrigerator — without proper safe handling. This has never been more true than it is today with the development of the new “super bugs”!
Safe Handling and Pasteurizing Eggs:
You’ll need a quick digital instant read thermometer and either a timer or a watch.
Other thermometers take too long to display so a digital instant read thermometer is essential.
There is a very narrow temperature range to successfully kill bacteria without altering the consistency of the eggs.
Use only the freshest eggs without any cracks — and if possible without any visible soiling (dried feces).
Have a sanitary, clean work area and very clean washed and scrubbed hands and nails.
Proper hand washing method:
You should always use this method prior to food handling — and especially before pasteurizing or canning foods.
Even when fermenting foods it is essential to use this method for preventing contamination of foods with dangerous or otherwise unwanted bacteria that could result in illness or that could taint and change the desired taste of fermented foods.
It is best to begin by cleaning under nails first with a nail brush or scraper, to remove debris and clumps of dead cells that trap and actually form a barrier that protects bacteria.
Then, when actually hand washing, the very last to do is to scrub the nails lightly but vigorously back and forth against the palm of the opposite hand.
So you always start with the nails — and then later end with the nails.
Whenever hand washing — and drying — always go from the cleanest to dirtiest area — by starting at the wrist and working your way down to the finger tips and nails.
This reduces the spread of bacteria — which would otherwise be pushed from the most contaminated areas (the finger tips) up towards the least contaminated areas (wrists).
The wrists, hands, fingers, and nails (in that order) should be scrubbed with soap and clean running water for no less than 20 seconds — or for as long as it takes to fully sing the Happy Birthday song at a normal pace in English — and then thoroughly rinsed and dried afterwards — starting from the wrist and working way down toward the finger tips and finally washing the nails as previously discussed by rubbing briskly against the palms.
Do not elevate the hands when wet because bacteria will run from the dirtier finger tips towards the cleaner wrists.
Somewhere along the line, Hollywood began showing movies and soap operas, etc. with doctors performing surgical scrubs then immediately elevating their hands before drying. This is WRONG and incorrect. Only after drying are the hands elevated to prevent contamination by accidentally touching anything until dawning (putting on) sterile gloves — which they do themselves following a very carefully laid out technique because it avoids dangerous cross contamination — it is not done by the nurses as shown by Hollywood. Plus, the scrub they do takes much longer and uses very special sanitizing solutions, etc. than the technique described here.
So, with hands lowered, dry off starting at the wrists and working your way down to the finger tips.
Once pasteurized, you may store the eggs for up to one week in the refrigerator.
Perfect timing and a perfect temperature are both key to successful pasteurization — to kill the bacteria without changing the texture of — or even actually cooking — the eggs.
Eggs should be room temperature so allow them to sit on the counter for 30 to 60 minutes. Never leave out for more than two hours!
Otherwise, they will not pasteurize properly due to improper temperature control — as the center of the yolk remains cold longer and heats slower — and will not reach proper temperatures in the correct amount of time if cool or cold.
Place eggs in the bottom of a saucepan single layer on their sides. Do not over crowd. You should be able to easily insert two to three fingers between them.
Cover in cool tap water to one inch above the eggs.
There is no need to use distilled water unless your water supply is suspect — such as from a contaminated well, bad plumbing, or other known or suspected contamination which could cause illness and especially if you’ve been told not to use it or to boil it first.
Attach the instant read thermometer to the side of the pan with tip not touching the sides or bottom of pan but instead suspended — as near as is possible — to the half way point underneath the water.
You want to know the temperature of the water — not the pan.
If the tip is too close to the surface only of the water you will not get an accurate reading since the surface water is cooler than the rest of the water.
Place the pan on a burner that has been set to medium high heat.
Watch thermometer closely and constantly. Do not leave unattended.
Bring temperature up to 140 F degrees slowly — then and only then when the proper temperature has been reached should you begin timing.
Adjust heat as needed while pasteurizing to keep the thermometer between 140 to 142 F (60 to 61 C) degrees. Again, watch closely and do not leave unattended.
For small and medium eggs maintain at this temperature for three minutes.
For large and extra large eggs maintain at this temperature for five minutes.
Using slotted spoon or tongs, remove eggs and carefully place in a colander to then be immediately place under cool running tap water.
Move faucet and colander about or use sprayer as needed to ensure all eggs are being gently cooled in this manner for 5 minutes.
This will lower the internal temperature quick enough to stop the eggs from cooking themselves — but without causing drastic temperature variations that could interfere with proper pasteurization.
Do NOT submerge eggs in cool, cold, or iced water bath.
Allow to sit and drain for 30 to 60 minutes so that they will have fully reached room temperature as well as have dried before using or placing in the refrigerator.
Be sure to pat dry with clean lint free towel to remove any remaining water which will aid new bacteria to start growing before placing them in the refrigerator.
If any eggs become accidentally cracked at any time while being handled at home, they should either be discarded (i.e. if dropped on the floor) or should be fully cooked within two hours or less and eaten. Otherwise, whisk and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to four months.
Do NOT purchase and NEVER use or eat already cracked eggs from the store.
Being sure to lift each egg out of the carton, inspect each egg carefully on all sides and underneath before purchasing.
Then if they arrive home having cracked in transport from the shelf to home, you will know exactly how long they’ve been cracked for.
They need to be cooked and eaten within two hours of becoming cracked at normal room temperature or even if refrigerated — far less if the temperature is hotter (within 30 minutes to an hour).
Cracked eggs are the ultimate culture medium for the growth dangerous bacteria. If not able to use within two hours, they should be whisked (to allow for more even freezing) and stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to four months.
Do not store eggs on the door of the refrigerator where they will be exposed to frequent unsafe temperature changes. Store them in the main body of the refrigerator.
Do not store raw cracked eggs in the refrigerator for more than two hours.
Although growth is slower in the refrigerator than at room temperature, dangerous bacteria still grow quite easily and rapidly in this very nutrient rich and protective raw egg environment — particularly with today’s more resilient and resistant “super bugs”.
The reason that ranch dressing and mayonnaise can last up to five days in the refrigerator is because of the added vinegar and salt which helps to inhibit bacterial growth. Also, the lemon juice provides acidity to the Ph level.
However, they must also be stored in clean airtight containers or jars and never left sitting out or uncovered — get what you need and put the rest back into the refrigerator immediately. Otherwise, it will only last for a couple of days.
When making the homemade mayonnaise, be sure to use the amount of lemon juice, salt and vinegar indicated for this particular quantity of raw eggs to olive oil ratio.
You can add more lemon juice, salt, and vinegar if desired to taste — but DO NOT DECREASE the quantity — unless you intend to consume it all in less than two hours.
You can safely add or decrease the other seasonings to taste.
Just do not alter the eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and vinegar — except to only increase the amount of lemon juice, salt, or vinegar if desired to taste.
You now know how to handle eggs safely and even how to pasteurize them — and how to safely make and store Mayonnaise — which can then be used to make homemade Ranch Dressing.
Although the risk of contracting illness from intact properly handled raw eggs is minimal, pregnant and breast feeding women, infants, children, the elderly, any who are ill and those with a compromised immune system should avoid consuming them. Only pasteurized raw eggs should be used by these high risk groups.
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk (pasteurized if indicated or desired; recommended)
- 1/2 tsp vinegar (no less but may add more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp salt (no less but may add more to taste)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (no less but may add more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder or to taste
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder or to taste
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper (optional) or to taste
- 1-1/2 tsp ground mustard or to taste
Pre-measure ingredients and have everything set up and ready to use.
Whisk eggs vigorously until smooth and evenly blended.
Whisk in salt, onion and garlic powder, ground mustard, (and, if using, the optional white pepper) together until well incorporated.
Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a very slow but steady thin stream while continuously whisking to incorporate.
Now whisk vigorously until the mixture has thickened.
Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice.
Add remaining olive oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended.
If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil.
Taste test and adjust any seasonings if desired.
You may add more lemon juice, salt, and vinegar to taste -- but DO NOT USE ANY LESS unless you intend to consume all of the mayonnaise in under two hours or wish to discard any left overs. The quantity indicated helps inhibit bacterial growth and spoilage for the given amount of raw eggs and olive oil for a few days.
Store in clean airtight container or jar for up to five days.
It must be kept covered and not left sitting out. Take out only what is needed and immediately seal and return the rest to the refrigerator. Otherwise, it will only last a couple of days or less.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Do not substitute milk and vinegar or lemon juice for the buttermilk in this recipe! If you do not have buttermilk you may, however, simply use milk, half n half, or cream for making a plain ranch dressing instead of a buttermilk ranch dressing.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (no substitution)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2-1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, or more (not less) to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 3 tablespoons dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper
Mix, whisk, blend, or process ingredients together until well incorporated and smooth.
To thicken, add more mayo. To thin, add more buttermilk.
Store in airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Take out only as much as is needed then seal and return the remaining to the refrigerator immediately. Do not leave sitting out or uncovered. Otherwise, it will only keep for a couple of days or less.