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When I prepare vinaigrette, I always use the same basic technique: first the vinegar (or another acid liquid like lemon juice), some salt, a spoonful of Dijon mustard and then I add oil little by little (not as carefully as with mayonnaise – in that case I use an electric whisk – but not all at once), whisking or even simply mixing it with a spoon or fork.

Usually, that's enough to obtain a nice emulsion but in some cases the oil and vinegar never seem to mix properly and the texture isn't right. It's merely anecdotal but I have the feeling that the type of oil I use is the key factor here. Olive, walnut or pumpkin seed oil all seem to work very well, sunflower oil not so much.

My question is: Is it really the case? Does the type of oil have a well documented effect on how easy it is to get a good emulsion? And if that's the case, is there some “neutral” oil I could use instead of sunflower oil if I want to avoid the strong flavour of olive or walnut oil?

  • for oil flavor, look at cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/21747/… – Max Mar 9 '16 at 19:23
  • Interesting question. I use a similar recipe but I just dump it all in a bowl and stir with a fork... no fancy drizzling. I always use olive oil, though... and a combination of balsamic and white wine vinegars. (1 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp dijon, salt & pepper to taste). I don't have much issue with separating, particularly if I mix it up right before I toss it into the salad. – Catija Mar 10 '16 at 0:18
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    I would suspect yes, because oils don't flow the same way, they have different spread numbers, etc. So it is likely that they also break up and coalesce with different ease. But I'd like to hear about it from somebody with real knowledge, not my conjectures. Nice question! – rumtscho May 9 '16 at 8:22
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Add egg yolk or lecithin to your mixture and whisk it again.

Here is some theory:

To make an emulsion (consistent, not separating oil–water mixture), we rely on emulsifiers – long organic molecules that on one end bind with water, and another with oil. They play role of a glue that does not let molecules of water and oil separate.

The most common emulsifier is a lecithin – compound found in egg yolks. There is a more complete list of them I found on this website:

Emulsifiers in food

  • That sounds a lot like a mayonnaise and I am already using mustard. But, again, I am not asking for advice or alternative ideas, but a simple question: Does the type of oil matter? – Relaxed Oct 12 '16 at 19:32
  • It should not matter very much which liquid oil you use, from chemistry perspective – all of them don't mix with water without emulsifiers. But from perspective of taste they matter a lot. I use oils as spices. – Division by Zero Oct 12 '16 at 19:35
  • Just found this: Apparently there is "a variety of chemicals in the mucilage surrounding the mustard seed hull that act as emulsifiers". If you have variable results, I would experiment with temperature of your mixture (was mustard in the fridge?) and order of adding ingredients. – Division by Zero Oct 12 '16 at 19:44
  • Yes, I know all this and that's why I use mustard. We can chat about this and other things all night long, that's not my question. Either the type of oil does or does not matter and I was hoping someone would know that for fact. – Relaxed Oct 12 '16 at 19:50
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Yeah, sure!

Vegetable or canola (a.k.a. rapeseed) oil is used in dressings all the time! If you're having trouble getting the dressing to come together, I recommend tossing in an egg yolk to help the emulsification along.

If a raw egg yolk freaks you out you can add a teaspoon of mayo to every 3 tablespoons of oil.

If someone has an egg allergy, replace the mayo with mustard (Dijon works best, IMO).

The standard ratios I use are 1 tablespoon of acid (vinegar) to every 3 tablespoons of oil. I don't worry about slowly adding the oil it, because a brisk whisking with enough emulsifying agent always gets the result I'm looking for.

To actually answer your question: I've never noticed a textural difference in my dressings based on the kind of oil I use. HOWEVER, it's possible that how much whisking you're performing is altering the mouthfeel by pumping different amounts of air into the dressing.

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    The recipe already includes mustard... – Catija Mar 10 '16 at 0:15
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Its the ingredients in the premixed mustard which is promoting the emulsification of the oil; have you changed the brand of Mustard you use? Try increasing the amount you use, or as already suggested use some egg yoke.

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