Emulsion Dressing - Sage Garden Project

Published March 13, 2015 | Updated January 16, 2016
Subject: Culinary, Nutrition Education, Science
Season: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Place of Learning: Cooking Classrooms, Garden, Academic Classroom
Resource Type: Lessons
Grade Level: Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5
Uploaded by:
Dawn Mayeda
Program Affiliations:

In this lesson, students learn the difference between solutions and emulsions, and create an emulsified salad dressing. Students prepare a salad with vegetables from the school garden, and toss it with their emulsified salad dressing in this hands-on lesson that blends science, gardening, and nutrition. 



During this lesson, students will:

  • Further their knowledge of emulsions and how they function in cooking


Screw-top Jars Prepared for Demonstration:

  • 2 T oil + 1 cup water
  • 2 T oil + 1 cup water + 4 drops of food coloring
  • 2 T oil + 1 cup water + 4 drops of food coloring + 1 T dish soap

For the Salad

  • 3 Tablespoons
  • 3 Teaspoons  
  • 3 Bowls
  • Forks
  • Napkins
  • Cleanup towel
  • Instructor knife & cutting board 
  • Apron
  • 3 Big salad bowls
  • 3 Cutting boards  
  • 6 Cutting mats
  • 3 Graters
  • 6 Knives
  • 3 Juicers
  • 6 Screwtop plastic containers
  • 3 Tongs

Recipe ingredients

Garden Produce for the Salad:

  • Greens 
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Yellow peppers 
  • Dried fruit
  • Edible flowers

For the Salad Dressing

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • 3 Lemons

Opening Discussion:

  1. Today we will be learning about emulsions. Ask if a volunteer can define the word emulsion. 
  2. Explain and demonstrate emulsions and solutions for the class.
    • Solution: One substance disolved in another, such as salt + water = saltwater
    • Emulsion: One substance suspended equally in another. Put simply, an emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that don’t ordinarily mix.
  3. Do you know how oil and water don’t mix? Here’s a container with oil and water in it. (Give it to a student to shake up.) At first, it looks like it mixes, but once we set it down, it settles back into two separate liquids.
  4. In this jar, we have added food coloring. Look how it mixes with the water, but not the oil. That’s because it’s water soluble, which means it becomes a solution – effectively dissolved into the water. However, the oil remains separate.
  5. Then, we add the emulsifier – the agent which will combine the liquids and keep them combined. In this example, we’ve used dish soap. See how everything becomes one substance? Our emulsion should stay mixed – so check back during class to see whether it stays mixed, or separates.
  6. How can we use this concept in cooking?
  7. Today, we are going to practice making one of the most common emulsions, which is salad dressing. We know that some ingredients are very good emulsifiers, such as mustard, egg yolks, and mayonnaise (which is itself an emulsion made with egg yolks!). Most salad dressings are based on oil and vinegar, which do not normally mix. Today, we are using oil and lemon juice, and we will make use of both mustard and mayonnaise as our emulsifiers.
  8. Have students wash their hands. When presenting this lesson onsite, you may delight students by dropping a bit of dry ice in a plastic cup with some dish soap in it. The soap will bubble and overflow, and you can hold it over the students’ cupped hands, providing each student with some soap bubbles. This works like a hand-sanitizer; students rub their hands together until the soap disappears.


Begin making the emulsion dressing. Walk students through each step.

  1. Indicate students on right end of table to begin tasking; show students how to safely use a knife by cutting down towards their cutting surface.
  2. Next student juices half of a lemon.
  3. Next student juices the remaining lemon half. 
  4. Next student measures 1 T lemon juice into screwtop container.
  5. Next student measures 1/2 t mayonnaise into container.
  6. Next student measures 1/2 t mustard into container.
  7. Next three students each measure 1 T olive oil into container.
  8. Next student adds 3 shakes of salt.
  9. Next student adds 3 grinds of pepper.
  10. Next student screws top on, shakes while class sings a song. (Can pass container around for this job).

Prep greens – must be dry, stemmed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces. Demonstrate chopping and grating techniques

  1. Clean and chop yellow pepper and add to salad bowl.
  2. Chop cucumber and add to salad bowl.
  3. Grate carrots and add to salad bowl.
  4. Add dried fruit.
  5. Toss salad.
  6. Drizzle with salad dressing.
  7. Plate salads.
  8. Decorate salads with flowers.
  9. Serve salads.

Closing Discussion (can take place while students are eating):

  1. Have the class look at the demonstration emulsions once again. Ask students to recall the word "emulsion," and explain the difference between emulsions and solutions. Review the science of emulsions and solutions.

Cleanup: 5 minutes

  1. Have students bus plates, wipe down tables, and put food scraps into compost buckets. 
  • Emulsion 
  • Solution
  • Solubility (or water-soluble) 
  • Mayonnaise  
  • Non-reactive
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Drizzle

Other Content From Dawn Mayeda

In this lesson, students harvest dried marigold petals that they have grown, assemble them into bags, and brew and drink tea. Students learn what infusion means, and experience it in this hands-on nutritional science lesson.


Area: Cooking Classrooms, Garden, Academic Classroom
Type: Lessons