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Does mayo go bad? How long does it last?

Mayonnaise has always been a kitchen staple. I don’t use mayo on a daily basis but I always have it in my kitchen. It also never misses on my grocery list when I go shopping.

Mayonnaise is so versatile. You can use it in your sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads, the list is endless.  You can make your own mayonnaise at home or just buy ready-made mayonnaise. I honestly prefer buying because the homemade one lasts for a very short time.

Does mayonnaise go bad? Yes, it does. How long does it last? Unopened mayo goes bad when it has stayed in the pantry for more than four months past the best by date. Opened mayo stays fresh for only 2 months past the best by date when stored in the fridge. Homemade mayo can only stay fresh for one week. After that, it will no longer be safe to use.

The myths

I have heard a few scary stories about mayo. Especially when the mayo is mixed with food and the food stays out for too long. I have always been skeptical about eating food with mayo that has stayed out for too long because for starters, the mayo changes color and is no longer desirable.

However, it is important to note that mayo does not cause food to spoil faster as many people believe. In fact, store-bought mayo contains ingredients that last for a very long time, probably longer than the food items you used mayo in.

Mayonnaise does not go bad easily. Chances are you will only throw it out because its quality is no longer the same, and not because it went bad.

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The shelf life of mayo

Each jar of mayo usually comes with the best by date. The mayo does not necessarily expire on the best by date, it can still be safe to use a few months past it. However, its quality will not be the same as it was before the best by date.

We cannot tell exactly how long mayo lasts because there are so many different brands of mayo in the market that are manufactured differently. Different brands also use different kinds of preservatives. However, we can still approximate how long mayo lasts.

Store-bought mayonnaise always lasts longer compared to homemade mayonnaise because of various reasons. For starters, manufacturers usually use pasteurized eggs instead of the normal raw eggs.

Pasteurized eggs usually last for a long time since bacteria cannot survive when the eggs are pasteurized. Manufacturers also add other ingredients and preservatives that extend the shelf life of mayo.

The basic ingredients for mayo are egg yolk, oil, and an acid.  Store-bought mayonnaise is loaded with preservatives. Just try reading the ingredient list of your mayo and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.

If you make your own mayonnaise at home, chances are that it will go bad after only one week when you store it in your fridge. The case is different for store-bought mayonnaise.

When handled and stored properly, opened mayonnaise can last for up to 2 months past the best by date. Unopened mayonnaise can last for 3 to 4 months past the best by date when stored in the pantry.

How to properly store mayo

Proper storage is always key when you want any ingredient to last for a long time. For mayonnaise, the rules are pretty simple.

If unopened, store in the pantry, if opened, refrigerate immediately. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, here are a few pointers on how to properly store mayo.

  1. Store the mayo in a cool, dry place.

Mayo needs to be stored in a place that is both cool and dry. This makes the pantry, kitchen cabinet, and fridge the best place for storage because of the cold temperatures.

  1. Keep the light and heat away

Heat makes the quality of mayo deteriorate at a fast rate. If your kitchen cabinet is directly above the oven, you should definitely find some other place to store it. You should also store mayo in a dark place for it to last longer.

  1. Seal tightly after every use

Each time you use your mayo, make sure the lid is closed tightly before you place it back into the fridge. This way, no contaminants will get into the mayo.

  1. Once you open your mayo, refrigerate it

The best place to store mayo once you open it in the refrigerator. If you store it in the pantry, chances are that it will go bad very fast. I recommend that you place it in the fridge for it to retain its quality for a long time.

  1. Never store homemade mayo in the pantry

If you make your own mayo, you most probably used raw egg yolk as an ingredient. This makes your mayo more susceptible to bacteria. You should never store homemade mayo in the pantry because if you do, it might give you stomach upsets. Refrigerate it as soon as you are done making it.

How to properly handle mayo

Food hygiene is very important. It is the only way we can be sure won’t get sick after consuming certain foods. You need to handle mayo properly so that it does not get contaminated.

The main thing you need to be careful with is the utensils that you use to scoop your mayo. Always use clean utensils. Don’t use the spoon you are using for other foods because the spoon may contaminate your mayo. The utensils you are using for other foods may also transfer harmful bacteria into your mayo. Consequently, your mayo will go bad sooner than it is supposed to.

In case your mayo is in a squeeze bottle, use a dry paper towel to wipe off any mayo at the top before closing it. Do not use a wet paper towel because the water may contaminate your mayo.

The other thing is resealing your mayo after use. We do not want to give room for any contaminants to get into the mayo. They cause mayo to spoil. We don’t want that, do we?

Should I throw out my mayo if I accidentally leave it out overnight?

Say you used mayo to make a yummy dinner salad and the next morning you realize that you did not put your mayo back into the fridge. What do you do? Well, you will be glad to know that mayo does not go bad after one day.

If you accidentally leave it out overnight, it won’t spoil, and it will still be safe to use. Just place it back into the fridge and be more careful not to leave it out next time.

Can you freeze mayonnaise?

I don’t recommend freezing mayo because freezing alters the texture of your mayonnaise. It will no longer be desirable, and you probably won’t use it because of its texture.

In extension, you should not freeze sandwiches or foods that contain mayo. They will become gross.

Signs that your mayo has gone bad or is no longer safe to use

Mayo can last for a long time before it goes bad. All in all, there are a few signs that will indicate that the mayo is no longer safe to use. Here are a few of them.

  1. Acidic smell

If your mayo starts having an acidic smell, for instance, it starts smelling like vinegar, it is no longer safe to use. The acidic smell is a sign that your mayo has gone bad. You should definitely discard it.

  1. Molds or spores

Molds growing inside the jar of your mayo is never a good sign. If you look inside the jar and notice molds growing around the neck of your jar, your mayo has definitely gone bad. Do not attempt to salvage it by transferring it to a different container.

You will probably get sick if you use it. Just throw it out. If you also notice any spores in your mayo, it is no longer safe to use.

  1. Color change

If your mayonnaise changes color from white to brownish or yellowish, it has gone bad. The color change is usually an indication that it has either stayed for too long or it in one way or another got contaminated.

If your mayo has stayed in your fridge for a long time, make sure you observe the color before using it. Any color change is a bad sign and you should throw the mayo out.

  1. Weird taste

We all know how mayo should taste, right? Mayo that has lasted in the fridge for a long time may not taste exactly the same but its taste is usually still pleasing.

If you taste your mayo and notice that the taste is off or unpleasant, chances are that it has gone bad. Everyone knows that mayo should taste good. Throw out your mayo if it tastes weird.

  1. Lumps

When mayonnaise gets spoilt, its consistency usually gets thicker and lumps form. If you notice any lumps in your mayo, it has gone bad and you should throw it out.

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