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Vanilla Shelf-Life

Jan 5, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose


Feedback: Question concerns vanilla extract - how long after sell by date is it usable/effective? Thanks


vanilla extract won't "go bad" but if stored in a warm place it will deteriorate and lose flavor complexity and depth. i keep it in a cool room (not a warm kitchen) in a dark closet as light also causes oxidation. vanilla experts recommend not to refrigerate it but if it's a choice between a hot storage area and refrigerator i'd opt for the frig! by the way, i know some pastry chefs who freeze their vanilla beans. i've tried this, first vacuuming it in a plastic bag. stay tuned for the results some months from now. i know one thing for sure--they won't dry out!


hi patricia! yes i think it is a viable way to store vanilla beans for long term storage.


Rose - what did you decide about freezing vanilla beans?


Another food blog that I enjoy has a recent entry about her experience of making vanilla extract with vodka. She also gives a link to inexpensive sources online for fresh vanilla beans. I've recently ordered some and have been using them in my Christmas panettone. I like the result. The used pods are now ready to begin my own extract process. She starts hers with a small bottle of commercial extract; perhaps that helps get things off to a good start. Her blog gives full directions. I was amazed at how inexpensively good beans could be had. For less than a bottle of extract I have a package each of Tahitian and Bourbon beans. Here's the blog link: http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/journal/?currentPage=3


I just took a class at the culinary arts school and we used a vanilla bean. It was stored in the freezer. I asked the instructor how long they will keep in there and he said a very long time. I don't know how long a very long time is though.


I purchase vanilla extract with vanilla beans tucked inside the bottle - when the extract is all used up I transfer the bean to the next bottle. I'd never though of adding beans specifically to preserve them though - good idea! I can't wait to hear how the frozen do.

Juliana - I've read quite a bit about about home cooks and chefs who make their own extract exactly the way you describe. I've never done it myself, but have thought about it over the years. I'd love to know how your brew turned out - please report back after you've used it.


Can you please tell me the results from storing the vanilla beans in the freezer? Thanks :-)


greta, nutrition is not my area of experise!


This is the first time i'm visiting your web sight.I visited Mexico and bought real Mexican vanilla,it is very good and way stronger then the immitation stuff.I am for organic foods,would you consider Mexican vanilla to be good for you?


if you get sick the obvious answer is to throw it out.


my vanilla extract doesnt have a use by date on it.. but seems like everytime i use it in a recipe i get sick...will using more than what is called for in a recipe make u sick or should i just trow it out and buy new i have like three bottles in my cabinet... also good to know where to store it because they were in my cabinet by the stove...thanks for the heads up...


only a food chemist would dare comment on the safety of this but i will say that i've nevertasted a vodka infused vanilla that is as good as a fine quality commercially produced vanilla extract!


Hi Rose,

I tried making my own vanilla extract by infusing about 3 or 4 vanilla beans in a glass jar filled with 100% vodka and storing it in a cool, dark place.

It's been about 4 years now and I've just opened it. It smells of the vodka but I have not tasted it yet. Question is: Is it safe to use it? And if it is o.k. to use it, should I dilute it with some sugar syrup before using it?



i do the same thing! my favorite is mexican vanilla with tahitian vanilla bean stored in it!


Patricia Simonds
Patricia Simonds
01/11/2006 09:11 AM

I was unaware that vanilla would deteriorate in a warm place so this information is good. I order vanilla in quart containers and store vanilla beans in the container with the vanilla. This method keeps them moist and pliable. Thank you for your willingness to share your extensive knowledge about baking.



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