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Friday, July 3, 2015

I sometimes wonder what life is like in other people's homes

And I know that you sometimes wonder how I do things, just out of curiosity, even if you have no intention of doing some of the things that I do in my home. I think that is just normal curiosity.

So, I thought I'd share one of the "hows" to what I do in the kitchen.

In the comments section, one day, someone asked how I decant mayonnaise from the large jars.

I've only bought 1-gallon jars of mayonnaise three times now. But these large jars are often the most economical-per-unit size of mayonnaise. A 1-gallon jar will last our family about 5 to 6 months. The quality remains good for us, for that entire time.

But the large size could be prone to spoilage and/or bacterial contamination, if not handled properly. For these three jars, this is how I've made it work for us.

So, commercial mayonnaise is fairly high in acid (vinegar and lemon juice). This combined with the salt content, makes an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth (

Age-related spoilage of the product is not my primary concern. According to several sites, commercial mayonnaise can keep for up to 6 months, refrigerated, once opened. With this in mind, my aim is to reduce the chance of premature spoilage.

The biggest enemy to commercial mayonnaise is contamination from other sources, such as unclean hands or utensils. I avoid cross-contamination through some common sense practices, such as washing hands when cooking, and always dipping a clean utensil into the mayo jar.

So, to minimize any food-borne illness risk, I decant 1 cup of mayo at a time, from my 1-gallon jar. I use a freshly-sanitized *, 1/2-pint jar and large spoon, each time I decant another portion. 1/2 pint of mayo lasts our family not quite 2 weeks. By using such a small jar at a time, we reduce the risk of losing product due to spoilage, from contamination. (*I sanitize jars either in the dishwasher on the high-temp setting, or in a pot of water on the stove, as I'm sterilizing jars for homemade yogurt or preserves.)

To keep the 1-gallon jar in its best condition possible after opening, we store it in the kitchen refrigerator (as opposed to the garage one) where the temperature control is digital and very accurate.

And I use a sheet of plastic wrap, over the top of the jar, under the cap, to minimize air infiltration, from a poor-fitting lid. After decanting a portion, I scrape down the insides, then lay the piece of plastic wrap over the jar opening, before screwing the cap back on.

We do commercial mustard in a similar fashion. I buy it in 1-gallon jars, and decant small amounts at a time. Because mustard is very high in acid (vinegar), I decant into newly sanitized, 1-pint jars (instead of 1/2 pints), 3 jars at a time, so that it's easy for someone to grab a fresh jar as needed.

So, that's how I deal with those 1-gallon jars of condiments, that you read about in my grocery spending journal from time to time.


  1. We must be kindred spirits! Did you by chance take microbiology at some point? Your precautions sound like mine. :D Anyhow, I haven't ever bought such a large quantity of mayo but I do this with Dijon mustard. A gallon has lasted us quite a long time, even though I use it in a marinade for chicken now and then.

    1. Hi Cat,
      just ordinary biology in high school. But I am careful about household things, without going overboard, (or so I tell myself). Oh, yes, I've had gallon jars of mustard last for a couple of years, too!

      Kindred spirits -- I think so!

  2. I have found for my family the large jars are not as cost effective as buying quart jars on sale with coupons. That being said, I am brand loyal and only buy Dukes because it is made with no sugar. It helps that I know every 3 months one of our local grocery stores has Dukes BOGO and when I stack a doubled coupon on top of it I always get it for much less than half its normal price. (Thank you my non Dukes friends who give me your coupons)
    I read these blogs and take many ideas and use them, and the ones that don't work for me I simply enjoy reading. I love being old enough to know there are many ways to navigate life.

    1. Hi Anne,
      I'm glad you've found a way to buy your favorite, at an affordable cost! Mayo is one of those items that many folks really have a preference on brands. I can understand.

  3. Sounds like the smart way to do things. We have a hard enough time using up a pint of mayo because I'm the only one who really likes it, so no gallon sizes are in the future. Same goes with mustard.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      It would be silly to buy a gallon of something you couldn't use. My grandmother had the very same jar of mayo in her fridge for about 4 years (yikes!). She just couldn't use up even the small jars in a reasonable amount of time. For our family, we do seem to use a lot of it -- maybe all the egg salad, cole slaw and 100 Island dressing?

  4. On the subject of what goes on in other people's kitchen, when watching youtube videos of homesteaders (my favorite viewing subject), I am relieved to see their kitchen and MO (method of operation) are nothing fancy like cooking shows. We use disposable tofu containers to freeze our tomato paste and sauce into smaller portions from institutional sized cans. The flimsy quality of the disposable containers make it easy to pop the frozen mass out, which are then bagged in ziplocs. I individually freeze sausages sold in bulk packages on a pizza pan, then bag it all in ziplocs.


    1. Hi YHF,
      it is nice to have someone else "normalize" something that we do, that feels at odds with current culture.

      I like the idea of using tofu containers or freezing. They have a very rectangular shape which would lend well for getting the most into your freezer. The next time we use tofu, I'm saving that container!! Thanks for the tip!

  5. Buying in large quantities is a great idea IF you have adequate refrigerator space. We have only 1 refrigerator and there's no way I could justify using the space to store a gallon container of mayo. So, for us buying at Aldi or on sale in "normal" size jars is the way to go.

    I do admit that I am quite curious about your life and the decisions you've made and continue to make regarding your budget. If only I could pop on over for a glass of ice tea and we could sit and chat! Unfortunately we live way too far from each other!

    Your blog both inspires me and sometimes makes me squirm .... lol! .... when I think of how much waste and over spending sometimes happens in my house!

    1. Hi Linda,
      Absolutely! I occasionally have to turn down a great sale, because even I don't have space to store it. Chicken leg quarters were on sale, again, this week for 50 cents /lb, in 40-lb cases. But I couldn't see how I could get another case into our freezers at this time. I'll just have to hope they go on sale around Labor Day (I've noticed a trend at Cash & Carry this season -- those cases of chicken leg quarters on sale for big BBQ holiday weekends -- so there's hope for Labor Day!)

      I think we all have the same curiosity. For me, it helps me to think through why I have made the choices that I have, and see if I could tweak my own ways of doing things. And if not, then at least I am confident that I'm going about home-keeping in the best possible way, for me. And I'm sorry to make you squirm, ever. Maybe you *have* made the spending/saving choices that suit your life perfectly.

      Pop in for that glass of iced tea, anytime! It's peach-green tea this week.


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