Country Living Series

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Canning mayonnaise

For some time now, I've been curious about whether or not it is possible to re-can commercially-made mayonnaise. Yes I've made home-made mayo, but it doesn't last long even when refrigerated. We normally buy mayo in gallon jugs from Costco, and just like with the big honkin' jugs of mustard that were taking up room in our fridge, I kept wondering if canning (that is, re-canning) mayo was possible.

So I gave it a go. I scooped about a pint into a pot and started heating it.


Right away it started acting up. When mayonnaise is heated, I learned, it separates into its component parts. Yuck.


Still, I poured it into a pint jar...


...and put it in a boil-bath cannner, all by its lonesome.


Here it is, hot out of the canning bath. Still yuck.


Once it cooled, I opened the jar and poured it into a bowl to see if beating it would help.


Sure, it looked fine...


...for about two minutes. Then it separated again.


The longer it sat, the more it separated.


So I'm forced to concede defeat and conclude that NO, you cannot re-can commercially-made mayonnaise. Which begs the question...how is commercially-made mayonnaise made? And canned? If anyone knows, please post their answer!

33 comments:

  1. Here is a great explanation--it's all about the emulsion:

    Mayonnaise is an emulsion of vegetable oil in lemon juice stabilized by the molecule lecithin, found in egg yolks. Mayonnaise does not taste all that oily even though most of it is oil. This is because every molecule of oil is surrounded by a microscopic amount of lemon juice. Thus, it is important to remember that mayonnaise is not a small amount of lemon juice blended into oil, but is instead, a large amount of oil blended into a tiny amount of lemon juice.

    The key to making mayonnaise is to avoid having the components of the emulsion separate back into the components. In cooking, this is called breaking. No matter how much you mix the oil and lemon juice together, it will always separate (break) into a gooey mess unless you include the egg yolk as a stabilizer. The lecithin in the egg yolk acts like detergent in dissolving both the oil and the lemon juice components. This is what keeps mayonnaise fluffy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Grandma, your explanations make sense. I've made mayonnaise in the past and it's just as you describe. But how do they can commercial mayonnaise without it breaking? Any idea?

    - Patrice

    ReplyDelete
  3. Commercial Mayo isn't "canned", it is put in a jar and capped. Even the annoying health seals are not from canning but an added assurance against tampering.

    ..."Does mayonnaise cause food poisoning?

    No. Commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise dressings are prepared using pasteurized eggs that are free of Salmonella and other types of bacteria. Ingredients in the product such as vinegar and lemon juice provide a high acid environment, which slows or prohibits entirely the growth of these types of bacteria. Salt, another ingredient in commercial mayonnaise also acts to quell the growth of bacteria. Many of the foods used with mayonnaise such as tuna, ham, chicken and potatoes are more prone to bacterial contamination than mayonnaise itself. When preparing these foods, it is important to use proper food handling and storage procedures."...

    http://www.cainsfoods.com/Faqs.html

    http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookwithcondiments/a/mayospoilage.htm

    I don't personally refrigerate my "Best Foods Mayo" after I open it and haven't for several years, I have experienced no ill effects.

    As to your separated mayo, try blending it at high speed and adding just few drops of vinegar of lemon juice to achieve re-emulsification. Do a small batch and see, can't hurt to try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does professionally capped mayonnaise suck the air out of the jar? Is that what helps it last on the shelf and makes it not have to be in the fridge?

      Delete
  4. Hmm... I wonder if that is why my homemade soy mayo turns out... soy lecithin...

    My guess on the commercial mayo is that it is not canned with heat. They would use sterile everything and sterile jars and some preservative to keep it from going bad. That's my guess. Because you can buy commercial mayo on the shelf. As opposed to Vegenaise, which has to be refrigerated before opening and after. The lemon juice (or vinegar, or both) are not strong enough to keep the egg (or soy) from spoiling without the preservatives.

    Personally, I quit buying both real and soy mayo and now we use a sunflower seed sour cream on our sandwiches (http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=6912.0). It's got tons of flavor and is delicious. We also blend it with avocado and use it as dip for baked french fries. Mmmm! (Yeah, we're pretty much vegan.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Patrice,
    What are you using to "mix up" the mayonnaise? Maybe try something like that handy little "doodad" that you and Tiffani used when you were making soap. Just a thought. It might work and then again it might not. By the way, how did your soap turn out?
    Dawn

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dawn, I just used our regular kitchen mixer to beat the mayo. I don't (yet) have one of Tiffani's nifty gadgets, though I intend to get one.

    The soap turned out fine, though I have it on a high shelf in a basket, layered with paper towels, to cure. Technically I could use it now - it's been over three weeks - but I'm going to let it cure for a longer time.

    - Patrice

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm confused. Why would you want to can mayo that's already in a jar, ready to store on a shelf? As much as canning jars cost, I can think of better things to put in them than something that's already in a jar.
    **scratching head**

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am considering making aiolis to retail, so i am interested. ;)

      Delete
  8. Mere curiosity, that's why. We buy our mayo in gallon jugs from Costco because it's cheaper. Since canning jars are often unbelievably cheap or even free (we're always scouting for them and people often give us their unused stashes), it's cheaper to buy things in bulk and re-can. I've re-canned mustard, salsa, pizza sauce, etc., so re-canning mayo was just to see if it could be done.

    Which, as I learned, it can't. Oh well, ya never know unless ya try, right?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hmmm. I've always avoided the gallon-sized mayo at Costco and gone for the half-gallon size because of the inconvenience factor (too hard to handle, too much valuable shelf space in the refrigerator) and because it does change flavor if it sits too long in the fridge after opening.

    Maybe a solution would be to repack it into sterilized quart jars, vacuum seal the jars and store three out of the way at the back of one of the lower shelves, keeping one convenient for daily use. It's the exposure to air that causes flavor changes.

    I'm going to check the price difference next visit to Costco, and see if it's worth the trouble.

    For the cheapest mayo, of course, we'd make our own. It's really very easy if you have a food processor. (Did you know that's what the little hole at the bottom of the tube insert is for - to drizzle in the oil at the right speed?). If I'm doing a garlic-flavored mayo (aioli) I make it from scratch, but we're Best Foods fans for sandwich mayo and I've never been able to quite duplicate that flavor so I still buy it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Commercially made mayo has an additional ingredient which "binds" if you will the mayo even if it is left out on the counter for quite a while; That component is known as EDTA. It is present is most if not all commercial mayos. But I am coming out with a new Mayo which doesn't use EDTA !! Stay tuned !!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi I am trying to can a salad dressing that has mayo has an ingredient have you made a mayo that doesn't use EDTA? I am very interested to find out. Thank you!

      Delete
    2. How to make Mayo that will last long with out EDTA? Please share

      Delete
  11. I have canned butter before, and it will separate and look a lot like the mayo that you have pictured. While the butter cools in the jars I have to shake the jars every 15 minutes. Toward the end of the cooling time I add them to the refrigerator and shake every 5 minutes. This makes the butter have a smooth texture without the separation, and it comes out perfectly. Do you think shaking the jars would help? I may try a jar just to see. Would be interesting! Thank you for all of the information on your blog! Very informative! Blessings..

    ReplyDelete
  12. I make mayo a lot of the time. Because I want it to last longer, I put the jar of just-made mayo (which I have put into a mason jar), and I put it on a rack, with water up to the level of the mayo (leave a couple inches free at the top). I process the jar in simmering water for about 20 min. Then I cool the jar on the counter thoroughly before I cover the jar & put it into the fridge.

    I have also put the jar in a pan which has water in it, & into the oven, 220 degrees F, for a half an hour.

    Sometimes it separates, but that happened when I used a thick dishcloth under the mayo jar in the saucepan of water, so perhaps the bottom of the jar got too hot.

    The mayo keeps beautifully in the fridge!

    We don't use much mayo, so I only make a short-pint at a time (which, when processing, creeps up a bit in the jar, and a couple of times overflowed into the water).

    I found by reading labels that I could not get away from possible GMO oils unless I made my own mayo. Hain Safflower mayo was the only brand that did not have possible GMO ingredients.

    -Taylor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taylor I know this is an old post but when you do this method does your homemade recipe separate when you process it? thank you! jbirston@gmail.com

      Delete
    2. Hi Taylor, I know this is an older post but did your homemade mayo separate when you processed it? Can you give us your homemade mayo recipe?

      Delete
  13. Patrice,
    You're successful at many things, I think I'd just give this one up and move on. LOL I love your blog!
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  14. very interesting indeed. So my question is how do you make mayo? I'm just getting into canning a bit, & don't consider myself to be a good cook, but would love a recipe to follow for homemade mayo.

    thanks
    shalaee, ID

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recipes for homemade mayo are all over the internet. Here's one I just randomly pulled up:

      http://whatscookingamerica.net/Sauces_Condiments/HomemadeMayonnaise.htm

      It's quite easy to do and tastes great, but it won't last long in the fridge (a couple days at most) so you don't want to make a lot.

      - Patrice

      Delete
  15. I haven't canned real mayo but I have canned salad dressing. I have a good recipe that makes a sandwich spread and Yes it is safe because of the pH. I use litmus (pH) paper and it is below 4.2 pH.
    A good source to learn about canning by pH is the book "putting up" by Stephen Palmer Dowdney. I bought it off amzon pretty cheap used.

    This recipe is not from his book though it is Amish origin.
    Grind together put in strainer and let drain (you can save this juice and use it to replace the water in the thickener below)
    1 doz each red and green bell peppers
    2 lg sweet onions or what you have
    5 green tomatoes
    4 med cucumbers or small zuchinine
    and
    1 cup Vinegar
    1 Tblsp canning salt
    3 cups sugar
    boil 10 minute
    thicken with
    7 Tblsp clear Jel mixed with a little cold water

    Stir in
    1 cup prepared mustard
    1 quart salad dressing ( I used just the store brand)

    Put in jars and seal in boiling bath
    20 minute qts 15 pints

    I personally like to use Italian Sweet red peppers forthe red bells. The relish part tastes awesome before you ad the Miricle whip or other dressing which I'm not real fond of but my husband loves.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would really luv to get a preservative that is safe for my mayo,just started production down here in my country,but noticed it doesn't stay for long,wish there was a way out. ABIGAIL

    ReplyDelete
  17. I made my second batch of miracle whip clone last night. I didn't have any problem with it lasting 2 weeks b4 i needed to make more. Was thinking about canning to preserve, that's why I happened here. Found on another site, adding a bit of whey with active cultures is the way to make it and other dressings last a long time. Gonna try that one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Could you use dry lecithin?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's worth a try. However since putting up this blog post, I've learned that products which contain high amounts of oil (such as mayo) shouldn't be canned at home because home canners aren't powerful enough to kill botulism spores that may be suspended in an oil emulsion.

      Lecithin is worth a try for homemade mayo, though!

      - Patrice

      Delete
  19. Having read severa egg based Mayo labels, such as Duke's it seems alot of them are using Citric Acid as a preservative. I make a Key Lime Chipotle Mayo that I want to share with friends and have been chasing this over the rainbow idea of canning mayo also. I am also a Hot Sauce maker and have Hot packed my sauces for a long time. So, I'm wondering if the Ph is low enough, say 4.0 or below and can use something like a food saver device to vacume seal the jars, would they then be safe. I'm also wondering about the use of UV light to kill any nasties that might be in them. Can a UV device be homemade that will work?

    Oh, the things that make you go hummm.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Have you found anything further about sealing and UV Light? I'm wanting to jar my famous mayo based dip for retail. Any suggestions how I begin?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi! It is possible (according to articles I've read) to "pasteurize" eggs by holding them in a water bath at (I am trusting my memory on this temp) 180 degrees F for 20 minutes. They are still uncooked but any salmonella in the eggs has been destroyed. Logic tells me that, therefore, it may be possible to seal and sterilize mayonnaise in a similar manner. Ordinary mayonnaise has a pH that compares with acid fruits which are canned in boiling water bath. If the pH needs to be decreased, pure ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a possible choice of agent. As for how mayo is preserved commercially, God only knows -- and maybe Kraft Foods! There's gotta be a way . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you find a way that works, let us know!!

      - Patrice

      Delete
    2. Yes please I am very very interested!

      Delete
  22. I would like to make some small jars of aoli sauce using store bought mayonnaise. Can I do that? Would I have to reheat the mayonnaise or could I simply pack the jars with the sauce?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Patrice! I too have wondered about canning mayonnaise and learned a lot about homemade as well as commercial mayonnaise. I haven't gotten as far as trying out my theory, but can give you everything up to that point. The first thing to determine is this: are you really interested in mayonnaise (from your pictures I'd say you are) or salad dressing (which I have no idea what looks like if you heat it up and cool it down and all, but is a cooked product even when homemade, which real mayo is not.) If what you want is mayonnaise, pls continue. I determined that mayonnaise was far more like lemon curd than anything else I knew of that is canned at home. Lemon curd is prepared and cooked below boiling (you're going to have fun with this at altitude, I suppose! I don't know whether the trigger is 212 degrees or the physical activity of air escaping and the water bubbling and all) and then is canned in a boiling water bath canner KEPT BELOW BOILING (ditto previous parenthetical). In theory, lemon curd will keep only three (at most six) months because it will start to discolor, but the half dozen jars I put up last winter still look fine. (They'd have been consumed but I 'lost' them in the middle of a half dozen big and small projects that happened between put up and put away. They'd been in a box -- therefore in dark -- the whole time which may be why the color didn't change?) I think there is no more deterioration in a few months than there would be with any other complex canned food item but I'd be extra careful as the months stretched out. // I have been hesitant to continue to test with an actual experiment because, as with many things we are accustomed to as store-bought from very young, real mayonnaise, which is quite different in taste and texture from the purchased Hellmann's, will not be acceptable. The reverse of the problem is familiar to gardeners: once one has had fresh vegetables, even 'fresh' from the grocery is pretty poor. So obviously tastes can be changed, but how to bring it about (both for myself -- easy -- and my husband -- next to impossible -- is what I must figure out before I proceed further. // Please note that info on canning lemon curd is sparse, few and far between. The Brits are lemon curd people but their instructions don't seem to come up to USDA-HomeEc driven standards for the USA. I believe I have a document with an assembly of what info and references I could find. If I can find it I'll be happy to e-mail it to you (or anyone else who might be interested). Rede B., Alexandria VA

    ReplyDelete