How long does mayonnaise last?

Mayonnaise is one of the beloved condiments that many people cannot live without. This article probably isn’t for those people because they use the whole jar of mayo long before it deteriorates and eventually goes bad. Nevertheless, there are still those who use mayonnaise only in a handful of dishes and not that often. For them, the questions of how long does mayo last and how to tell if it’s spoiled are quite important. If you’re unsure about shelf life, storage or spoilage of mayo, this article is for you.

Mayonnaise in store
Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr.

How to store mayonnaise?

Unopened store-bought mayo should be stored in a cool and dry area, away from light. The pantry is the perfect place for it. If that’s not a possibility, storing it in room temperature is pretty much okay too. Once you open the jar, it should be transferred to the refrigerator and kept in there if not in use.

When it comes to homemade mayo, it should always be stored in the fridge.

How long does mayonnaise last?

Store-bought mayo usually has a “sell by” or “best by” date, which is helpful in determining how long will it last. As you most likely know, “sell by” (or “best by”) date isn’t an expiration date but rather a guideline of how long it can sit in the store. As long as the jar is unopened, it should last for about 2-4 months past the “sell by” date. For most, it’s much more than needed to use the contents of the jar.

Once the jar is opened and sits in the refrigerator, you should use its contents within about 2-3 months. If you’ll do a bit of research, you’ll see that different sources suggest different time spans for opened mayo. That’s because within that time span mayo most likely won’t go bad. Once mayo is opened, its quality starts to slowly deteriorate. So those different time spans aren’t about when mayo will go bad, but about how long its quality is good enough for consumption. If it’s opened for more than 3 months and doesn’t show any signs of spoilage, it’s most likely completely safe to eat. You might not be delighted with its taste, but it shouldn’t make you sick either.

Homemade mayo is a bit trickier, because it depends on the recipe you’re following. In many cases the recipe itself comes with the information of how long it can be refrigerated. If it doesn’t, 3 to 5 days is a fairly safe time span for pretty much all recipes. Most recipes should last for up to 7 days. To make it last a few days longer try adding a tablespoon of whey. Make sure it’s not bad if you’re using it more than 7 days after preparing.

Mayo jars
Photo by _sushi-olin on Flickr.

How to tell if mayonnaise is bad?

No rocket science here. If you see mold, throw out the whole jar. Don’t even try to scoop the “bad part” and use the rest, just get rid of it. If there’s no mold, check mayo’s texture. If it got thicker or lumpy, throw it out. If mayonnaise’s color becomes yellowish instead of white, it’s probably a good idea to toss is out too. An off odor is another sure sign of spoilage. If it looks and smells okay, give it a taste. If the taste is fine, the mayo is most likely perfectly safe to eat.

Is mayonnaise safe to use after “expiration” date?

As mentioned earlier mayo most often comes with a “best by” or “sell by” date. These dates aren’t expiration dates and mayo can be consumed quite a lot of time after those dates. That is, of course, if it was stored properly and the jar is intact. See the how long does mayo last section for more information.

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