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Most recipes I've seen for mayonnaise suggest that homemade mayo should be kept in the fridge for no longer than between 3 and 5 days.

What techniques or ingredients can be used to increase the shelf-life of homemade mayo? It's probably worth metnioning that I'm not after a solution that'll make the mayo last for the same length of time as commercially produced products, a week or two would be nice though!

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This is a good question, because the minimum amount of mayonnaise one can make is pretty much dictated by the size of chicken eggs :-) –  Pointy Jul 22 '10 at 12:36
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You could make Quails egg mayo... –  Chris Cudmore Jul 22 '10 at 14:18
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@Pointy, and the maximum amount of mayonnaise one can consume is pretty much dictated by the desired size of the waistline! ;) –  Rob Jul 22 '10 at 20:45

9 Answers 9

To preserve mayo without chemical preservatives you're going to need to drop the pH. That usually means more vinegar, which is also going to alter the flavor. Now, you can experiment with quantities but you're still going to be altering the flavor. To counteract this you're going to need to flavor your mayo more strongly. Flavored oils are a way to do this, so are herbs and spices. Most commercial mayos have added sugar to offset the increase in acidity. At some point though you're going to have to quantify how much preservation you get out of a given vinegar concentration.

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What pH would you recommend? –  Friday Nov 21 '13 at 22:31

I make a pretty large quantity of homemade mayo and have never had a problem keeping it longer than that -- Good Eats uses a week for their recipe and for me it lives a month, easy, with no detectable reduction in quality. There really is enough acid and salt to deter most bugs if you like it strongly flavored (and let's be honest, mayo should be strongly flavored because it's a sauce made of fat and you might want to minimize the quantity applied). I'd also take the advice of stilltasty.com that while color, flavor, or texture may change it's generally still safe to eat refrigerated mayo even after it's notional "use-by" date.

In short, I strongly advise more salt and acid if you're worried (and also because it's tasty), but I also strongly advise a lack of worry.

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Good Eats also recommended letting the mayo rest at room temp after making for 4-8 hrs, before refrigeration -- see the transcript, as it's not in the recipe on Food Networks' website: goodeatsfanpage.com/season4/Mayo/MayonnaiseTranscript.htm ; there's also mention of using pasteurized eggs, if you're concerned and raw egg issues. –  Joe Jul 22 '10 at 15:15

As mayo is made with raw eggs, its shelf life is limited by the risk of salmonella. Salmonella is killed by heating and acid.

Here is the safest method of preparing mayonnaise that I know of:

Method for assuring destruction of Salmonella spp. in egg yolk. Place egg yolk(s) in a small, stainless steel bowl. (The container must be large enough so that it can allow the egg yolk/acid mixture to be stirred or whisked as it is heated.) Place the container containing the egg yolk/acid mixture in a pan or bowl of water (such as a small double boiler) that is at a simmering temperature of 180 to 190F (82.2 to 87.8C). Heat the yolk/acid mixture to a temperature of 150F (65.6C). This will take about 1 minute. The mixture must be stirred or whisked constantly and the temperature measured frequently by using a micro-tip thermocouple thermometer (such as the Atkins 33040 ). Immediately remove the pan containing the yolk/acid mixture from the hot-water heat source. The yolk/acid mixture is now pasteurized and can be used in the preparation of mayonnaise and Caesar dressing. Recipes for these products should be checked, or recipes provided in this paper should be used to assure that there is the correct amount of acidity. As a starting point, the standard of identity for vinegar is 5% acetic acid. The amount of citric acid in lemon juice (bottled or freshly squeezed) is 4.7%. A typical mayonnaise should be prepared with 1 raw egg yolk per 8 ounces of oil and the acid concentration should be 1.4% of the aqueous phase as recommended by the FDA (CFR Title 21 Part 101.100).

Source: http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Mayonnaise.html

I don't know what the shelf life of this kind of mayonnaise is, but if this doesn't give you the duration you want, I doubt that there is another method to make it longer, except maybe using pasteurized eggs.

If you follow the method, make sure you are actually using a thermometer. It does not insure the safety if you don't reach the temperature mentioned, but if you get it a bit hotter, trying to make sure you reached it, your yolks will curdle. Also, note that the salmonella don't magically drop dead the second a threshold temperature is reached. They start to diminish, until they have all died. So I don't remove the mixture from the water bath, but make the mayonnaise in the water bath itself, giving it a longer time on the heat.

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You're going to need to add vinegar (or lemon juice, or something acidic).

After making mayo with vinegar, just leave it out for a few hours before putting it in the fridge, so the acid has a chance to kill the bacteria in the egg.

You can keep it for a week after that, 2 weeks is at your own risk though. Personally, I'd risk it - but I don't decide whether to eat things based on use-by date - it's looks and smells good, it's probably fine.

Obviously this will change the flavour.

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Unfortunately, mayo doesn't freeze well, and it really doesn't can well, so neither of those are options.

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How about cultured mayonaise? I don't know the details, but have seen mention of this on some other websites... i think it gives a longer shelf-life because the "good bacteria" crowd out the "bad bacteria." Not to mention, it would be full of healthy probiotics -- added bonus!

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I yet have to see any scientific proof of any healthy probiotics... –  nico Apr 26 '12 at 17:55
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You culture what? Sure, cultured products have a longer shelf life, but you need a stuff in which the good bacteria can multiply easier than the bad bacteria. This is easy with flour (sourdough), harder with milk, and I don't even know which good bacteria are attracted to the conditions in mayonnaise. –  rumtscho Apr 26 '12 at 17:58
    
@rumtscho: apparently cultured Mayo does exist. They do add sugar and whey to it. See for instance goo.gl/othR4 or goo.gl/xsMwY –  nico Apr 28 '12 at 10:42

I think citric acid is helpful. I've added a little sprinkle to my mayo and have been surprised that it last much longer than without it.

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Can you be more specific about how this works and how you use it? –  lemontwist Jan 16 '13 at 15:24
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Adding acidic components has been mentioned previously. Do you do something different than what as already been said? –  colejkeene Jan 16 '13 at 15:45

You can culture mayo by adding a tablespoon (per cup and a half of finished mayo) of whey right after you are done making the mayo and letting it sit on the counter for 7 hours. This will extend the fridge life to a few months.

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Can you provide any references for this? –  TFD Apr 3 '13 at 6:30
    
This sounds extremely dangerous. In theory, if you get enough culturing bacteria, salmonellas won't have a niche to live in. In practice, throwing in a spoonful of whey and hoping that you will culture the mayonnaise that way is extremely foolish. The probability of catching a culture which is both sour enough to kill salmonela and tasty enough to not ruin the mayo is terribly small. The probability of salmonela (or some other pathogens) winning the microbiological Civilization II game instead of a benign culture is way too high. –  rumtscho Apr 3 '13 at 10:23
    
It's called lacto fermented mayonnaise and why would it sound 'extremely dangerous'? People have been fermenting foods to preserve them for thousands of years or longer. I've used whey from yogurt and yes it does extend the life, and adds a nice flavor to it as well. –  r_s Nov 26 '13 at 2:42

it all has to do with the quality of eggs. Get a good, pasture raised egg, and your chances of food poisoning drop to almost nothing. The hens are happily running about the organic field, and they are not smashed in next to each other...make a big difference in taste, color of egg yolk, and omega 3's....Vital farms is the best. You can go on line and watch the hens, and the eggs are avail at whole foods and mother's here in california. I keep my mayo for over a week or two with no change in flavor. I make mine with avocado and olive oil and it tastes great...also makes into a fantastic aioli with roasted red peppers or other veg pureed into it.Good luck!

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Is there any evidence for any of these claims? –  SAJ14SAJ Aug 4 '13 at 0:33
    
@SAJ14SAJ It could be the freshness of the eggs, rather than the way they were raised, perhaps? –  Jefromi Aug 4 '13 at 2:34

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