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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 mentioning 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!

  • 3
    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
  • How do commercial jarred mayonnaise extend shelf-life? Pasteurisation? Can violent mixing such as sonnication which rupture cells in labs do anything without ruining texture? – user110084 Jun 7 '17 at 14:36
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    All the suggestions below about increasing acid are good; you might also consider using a sous vide rig to pasteurize the egg yolks, or buying pasteurized eggs. – Lee Daniel Crocker Sep 10 '18 at 20:38

14 Answers 14

13

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 of 2017, nowadays you can pasteurize the eggs with a sous-vide machine before using them cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/13902/… – Luciano Feb 17 '17 at 11:28
  • How to make a safe mayo, I mean if eggs are old, they may contain salmonella – alim1990 Apr 3 '17 at 9:38
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    @alim1990 salmonella can be found in any eggs if the hen had it, so how old the egg is. Pasteurize eggs with sous-vide machine if you can't confirm source of the eggs. Home sourced eggs often can be safe because you can tell if the hen has salmonella. – Alexus Dec 13 '18 at 19:23
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    @alim1990 We can't . I certainly couldn't... and got sick... and now I cook my eggs to proper temperature. Every time we undercook eggs we take a risk and trust that local farm has procedures in place and testing to prevent salmonella from making it's way into customers stomach. Also, you can pasteuraize eggs with Sous Vide without altering their texture and then eat them completely raw-like. – Alexus Dec 17 '18 at 23:42
6

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.

  • What pH would you recommend? – Loren Nov 21 '13 at 22:31
4

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.

4

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.

  • 3
    Isn't vinegar or lemon juice already included in mayonnaise? Or do you mean add even more of it? ... I am also a little curious why you need to leave it out of the fridge for a few hours, "so the acid has a chance to kill the bacteria in the egg." Wouldn't the acid be able to carry out that vicious killing inside the fridge just as well, where the bacteria might even be in an already weakened condition due to the temp.? – Lorel C. Apr 3 '17 at 2:49
  • Chemical reactions tend to be exponentially faster at higher temperatures ... which usually works against you in preservation :) – rackandboneman Dec 16 '17 at 15:56
  • -1 for dangerous advice. Acid does not kill the bacteria in the egg, it reduces the chance that they will grow and establish a colony. If you leave it out on the warm, more bacteria will grow (despite the acid, since it is not 100% effective) than if you refrigirate. – rumtscho Oct 30 '18 at 11:42
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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!

  • 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
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    @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
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    Would whole yoghurt work as well as just taking the whey? Proteins and fats might help act as an emulsifier. – user110084 Jun 8 '17 at 16:56
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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.

  • Can you provide any references for this? – TFD Apr 3 '13 at 6:30
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    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
-1

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

-1

If the freshly laid egg is clean (free from chicken poop--and most are. They don't get poop from being laid, just from the chicken's feet if they stepped in poop then entered the nest box), then the egg is protected by the bloom, which is a sealant the hen's body releases to protect the egg from spoiling. Really fresh, clean, free-range chicken eggs keep for 21 days on the kitchen counter. If washed (removes the bloom) then they should be refrigerated. Using such eggs would increase the length of time you can keep mayonnaise.

-1

Im not sure I would use my home made mayo if it was more than a week old. I can taste that its changed after 3-4 days. I suspect that one of the suggestions here to add acid would be a good idea. However because youre making an emulsion, adding more vinegar or lemon juice will just water it down, and youll lose the firm gel youve worked so hard to produce. Instead, you might consider adding citric acid in granulated form to up the acid content.

Also limiting the exposure to oxygen extends its life, so if youre able, remove all air from whatever container youre using to store it.

Just my two cents...

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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
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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? – Cascabel Aug 4 '13 at 2:34
  • @SAJ14SAJ, it appears be true: abcnews.go.com/Health/truth-eggs/story?id=16871055. " A 2010 study published in the journal Veterinary Record found that the eggs from hens confined to cages, as they often are in factory farms, had 7.77-times greater odds of harboring salmonella bacteria than eggs from non-caged hens." – Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla Feb 25 '16 at 11:40
  • I recommend looking for more published research for corroborated results and not to rely on a single paper regardless of the journal's reputation. – user110084 Jun 8 '17 at 14:16
-2

Use pasteurized eggs and increase the acid a bit.

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    Can you please support your answer with an explanation for why this would help? Right now, it's a bit too short to be useful. – Catija Jun 7 '17 at 19:33
  • "A bit" is different for each person... – user110084 Jun 7 '17 at 22:11
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I believe adding a little rosemary would preserve this longer. Rosemary if put in slightly spoiled egg or potato salad can actually reverse the spoilage.

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    This sounded a little suspect to me but I see rosemary oil is approved for food preservation. Did you have any references or ideas if fresh / dried rosemary also works and what sort of quantities might be needed? – PeterJ May 7 '15 at 14:12
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    But I seriously doubt the "reverse spoilage" claim. – Stephie May 9 '15 at 19:54
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People... do you realize the US is one of the ONLY countries in the world to refrigerate eggs??? And do you realize the eggs you buy in a store are as much as 45 days old? If you have a farm fresh egg, that is not soiled, it can be left on your kitchen counter for up to 3 weeks without any concern of contamination because of the bloom on the egg. If you're worried about shelf-life of mayo, the concern lies in a store bought, standard white egg.

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    Storage before using the eggs is not the same thing as storage after turning into mayonnaise. – Cascabel Apr 3 '17 at 7:10
  • Eggs can be left on the counter, if unwashed. Yes, fresh unwashed eggs can last for weeks. But the moment you crack that egg, it's out of the protective shell and exposed to the elements. The eggs in the store have been washed, and then oiled to close the tiny pores in the egg shell, but even that brief cleaning reduces the shelf life of the egg. Imagine what removing the shell does. – David Griffiths Jan 29 at 22:24
  • I'd invite you crack an egg into a bowl and leave it on your counter. It'll spoil within 2 days, and be FDA unsafe within 2-3 hours – Nicholas Pipitone Jun 15 at 5:48

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