Sunday, August 5, 2007


Does mayonnaise need refrigerating?

We all know that at picnics, we have to be especially careful of mayonnaise-based salads. The potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw. That mayo will spoil in the hot sun! Keep it covered. Put it out at the last minute and throw it out once everyone is served. It's like a biological time bomb. The salad that could kill us all!

When, all of it. Every word of it. Is FALSE. You're more likely to get food poisoning from contaminated meat or veggies in those salads than the mayo.

First, what is in mayonnaise? Oil. Vinegar. Lemon juice. Raw eggs. Salt. Spices. As we can see, most of this stuff won't really spoil. Everything but the raw eggs. Ah! But, in commercial mayo, the eggs are first pasteurized so they are CLEAN. Then we have the vinegar and lemon juice. Mayo is actually pretty acidic.

From Hellman's website, they state it should be refrigerated as higher temperatures will affect flavor. No mention of spoilage. But, to really get the facts, we go to the Association for Dressings and Sauces. Yes, it exists. They state mayo gets a bad rap. Most likely because homemade mayo is made with regular raw eggs which makes them very perishable. But, as stated, commercial mayo uses pasteurized eggs. The issue is cross contamination of other ingredients. Mayo isn't strong enough to kill new bacteria introduced into the salad. So, that pasta salad without mayo will go bad if you have other bad ingredients.

Other testimonies from the web state many people never refrigerate their mayo. NEVER. And, as Hellman's says, they're only concerned about loss of flavor. So, similar to ketchup, you can keep mayo in the pantry as long as you use it enough so that the flavor doesn't go south. Who knows how long that is. But, you won't get sick.

1 comment:

Greg said...

I don't refrigerate my Mayo. I used to as a kid and pretty much through the 90's but it alwasy got all slimy and gross from the dew that would form from the fridge cycling.

I buy the Quart size jar of Hellman's and it takes me several months to use it up and I have never had any problems with off flavors except maybe way near the end of that time/bottom of the jar. If it does get too hot inside 75 degrees or hotter, then I may put it in the fridge until the warm spell passes.

In the late 80's I worked in a restuarant with a french chef and he never refrigerated his big gallon jars of mayo (that lasdted maybe a week after openning) but it took me years to feel comfortable doing it too because I had been embued in the same picnic salad myths. And having cruised the net tonight I fond that those myths are as strong as ever but the TRUTH is OUT THERE, at least for us who trust science.

I will say that I am very careful not to (cross) contaminate my mayo. I always use a clean utensil and I dollop it out on the bread or in a bowl without touching the utensilk to anything if I am going to dip back in. Definetely not the time to lick a spoon or stir up some raw meat marinate and then dip in for more.

Sadly, I never make my own mayo. I'm a power cook and make lots of stuff from scratch that mosy buy but mayo remains a commercial product for me. If I'm going to make mayo it will be hollandaise (basically butter mayo), aoili or ceasar dressing instead, from scratch but then I tend to add a bit of commercial mayo anyway. Go figure