Vanilla beans and its seeds are used to spice sauces, ice creams, drinks, and desserts. Vanilla beans provide real vanilla depth and flavor to many recipes. Often times, this spice is purchased in a jar in bulk quantities. Over time the bean’s aroma is lost and will spoil if not used within an allotted time.
Vanilla beans can last up to two years or longer if the whole spices are stored properly. Keep vanilla beans in an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry, and dark place like the kitchen cabinet.
Vanilla beans are a fragrant spice to have on hand. Let’s go further into storage practices, how long vanilla beans last, and frequently asked questions.
Do Vanilla Beans Go Bad? How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last?
The quality of the vanilla bean’s flavor depends on the manufacturer and how they are stored. More often than not, vanilla beans can be used past the recommended date. This is because after a certain time, the pods dry out and although they are dry, they can still be used.
How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last Outside
Vanilla beans should be stored in a cool and dark place, in an airtight container. A suggested place is in a cabinet or cupboard. Every few weeks, open the container to air it out.
With proper storage conditions, vanilla pods can last up to 24 months. It is not recommended to keep the vanilla beans longer than this. After this period of time, vanilla beans begin to lose their flavor and potency.
The recommended amount of time is 6 months. With this time frame, optimal flavor is more guaranteed.
How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last in the Fridge
A vanilla bean’s shelf life is prolonged when there is no moisture present. With moisture present, mold will settle on the pod.
Storing them in the fridge will increase the potential for mold to growth. Moreover, the cold air will eventually dry out the pods.
If you do decide to store in the fridge, it is best to use within 3 days’ time. Store them in an airtight container. They can be wrapped in a paper towel; the towel will act as a moisture wick. Moreover, they can be vacuum sealed and stored in the fridge. This may set forth an extension to the shelf time.
How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last in the Freezer
Freezing vanilla beans is the least recommended way to store them. The reason for this is the same as storing them in the fridge. Freezing does not extend the shelf life, instead it speeds up the drying process.
It is still possible to freeze and store them. Store them in a vacuum sealed bag, vanilla bean pods have the potential to last for 12 months.
The best way to store and achieve longevity of vanilla beans is to keep them in a glass jar in a cabinet. Keeping the jar at room temperature is best.
How to Tell If Vanilla Beans Have Gone Bad / How to Know Vanilla Beans are Fresh
Vanilla beans usually have a recommended usage date of 6 to 24 months. After this time frame, there are indicators of how fresh a bean is or if it needs to be trashed.
Aroma: Fresh vanilla beans will have a strong undeniable scent of vanilla. Once the container is opened, the scent will be present. If the bean has lost its fragrance, then it can be added to warm liquid to bring it back to life. Though, it will not have the same quality.
Texture: Vanilla beans out of the container have a plush and slightly squishy feel. This is the vanilla seed pulp. After a long storage, this pulp will dry up and the vanilla bean will become brittle.
Crystals: As the vanilla beans begin to dry up, vanillin begins to form on the outer shell of the pod. This is an indicator it’s time to use the remaining pods as the flavor is diminishing.
Mold: Mold is the best indicator to toss out vanilla beans. Mold growth is possible if there is air moisture present while the pods are being stored. Mold will appear as fuzzy or spongy and it can be black or green in color.
How to Store Vanilla Beans?
Properly storing vanilla beans ensures you get the best tasting bean and the aroma last for the duration of its shelf life.
Vodka: If you feel that you’ll use the beans within a month or sooner than they can be stored in a jar with a vodka. Snip vanilla bean in half, stand it in ½ inch of vodka, then refrigerate. After about a month, pinch bean between fingers to squeeze out paste.
Airtight container: To maintain the fragrancy of vanilla beans, put them in an airtight glass jar. Glass containers have a non-porous surface, this will prevent the vanilla aroma from being absorbed into the jar. Air moisture can promote mold growth or dry out the bean, using an airtight container will stop air moisture from seeping in.
Room temperature: Store vanilla beans at room temperature. Most vanilla beans are sold in a jar. If this jar is refrigerated, condensation will form. This moisture in the jar will promote mold growth. Moreover, the cold air will remove the bean’s actual moisture causing it to dry out quicker.
Can You Freeze Vanilla Beans? How?
Vanilla beans can be frozen, however there are specific steps that need to be followed to achieve this. Moreover, it is not suggested that vanilla beans be frozen because they can lose their flavor, dry out, or mold can form.
Use a vacuum sealer to remove all air: Place the vanilla beans in a vacuum safe bag then seal the bag. A vacuum sealer sucks air out of a plastic bag then the bag is sealed to prevent air from getting back in.
Label and date the bags: Dating the bag provides a reminder of when the beans were frozen. It’s best not to freeze the beans for more than 12 months.
Store vanilla beans in a glass jar: Remove the vanilla beans from the freeze and wrap beans in a paper towel then allow to dry. Once dry and no mold is present, add them to an airtight jar.
How to Thaw Vanilla Beans?
Once you are ready to use the frozen vanilla beans in a recipe, it’s time to thaw them.
Towel: Remove the beans from the freeze and wrap them in a tea towel or paper towel.
Time: Allow them to dry for 4 to 5 hours, ensuring there is no moisture build up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vanilla Bean’s Shelf Life
What should I look for when buying vanilla beans? Vanilla beans should be flexible, plump, and aromatic. At their peak, the scent should be heady and boisterously vanilla. Between the fingers, the beans should be slightly squishy. They should not feel or appear brittle. There should be no mold present.
Can old vanilla beans be used? If there is no mold or sour odor present, old vanilla beans can be used. They can be added to warm beverages to release their fragrance. They can also be used in pastry, custards and sugar. It’s best to finish vanilla beans within 12-24 months, however.
Vanilla is spice that is used to heighten the flavor of various foods, the little pods can last up to 24 months if stored efficiently.