Vanilla extract is a common household item. We occasionally use it for baking, but not on a daily basis. This leaves most of us wondering, does vanilla extract go bad?
Pure vanilla extract does not go bad, whereas you should follow the best by date for imitation vanilla extract.
- Pure vanilla extract will last indefinitely if stored in an airtight container outside.
- Imitation vanilla extract will not necessarily go bad outside, but will lose its quality after 2-4 years.
- Pure vanilla extract should not be stored in the fridge.
- Imitation vanilla extract should not be stored in the fridge.
- Pure vanilla extract should not be stored in the freezer.
- Imitation vanilla extract should not be stored in the freezer.
Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad? How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last?
Pure vanilla extract lasts longer than imitation vanilla extract because of how it is made. However, if both types of vanilla extract are stored properly, they will last a long time.
Pure vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans. Manufacturers submerge vanilla beans in ethyl alcohol and water at a very cool temperature to extract the vanilla. The extraction process lasts for 48 hours. The extract is pure vanilla since it is made from nothing else.
Pure vanilla extract does not go bad. Although, over time, like all extracts, vanilla extract will evaporate. Since it is made with alcohol, the alcohol will begin to evaporate after you open the bottle. The evaporation is a very slow process. It is unlikely you will notice a big change in the amount of vanilla in the bottle over time.
Although pure vanilla extract does not go bad, it can lose its flavor quality in 5-10 years. Vanilla extract does not go bad in a way that will make us sick. However, it may not maintain its aroma and potency after a very long time in your kitchen.
Imitation vanilla extract is made from synthetic vanillin. Vanillin is the compound in vanilla beans that give vanilla extract the flavor we know. Manufacturers use wood pulp, particularly lignin, to make synthetic vanilla. There is an abundance of lignin on the planet, which makes producing synthetic vanillin cheaper. As a result, imitation vanilla extract is cheaper than pure vanilla extract.
Use the best by date to determine if imitation vanilla extract is still good. Like pure vanilla extract, imitation vanilla extract does not go bad. It won’t make you sick if you use it after the best by date. However, imitation vanilla extract will not have the best flavor after the best by date.
Pure and imitation vanilla extract will go bad if stored incorrectly. Hot and cold temperatures will decrease the extract’s shelf life. The temperatures can alter the quality of the flavor. Once vanilla extract loses its flavor, it is no longer useful for cooking.
Vanilla extract has the longest shelf life when you store it in a cool, dark place. It is best to store vanilla extract in a cabinet to protect it from sunlight. It is also best to choose a cabinet that is not near the oven.
How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last Outside?
To maximize pure and imitation vanilla extract’s shelf life, store it outside.
Pure vanilla extract will last indefinitely outside. If it is stored in a cool, dark place and in an airtight container, it will not go bad. You can keep the extract in the container it came in from the store, or you can decant it to one of your own. If you choose to use your own, use a dark glass container. The dark color will keep light away from the extract.
Imitation vanilla extract does not last indefinitely. Although it will not go bad, follow the best by date to get the finest use from it. Similar to pure vanilla extract, you will want to store the imitation vanilla extract in an airtight container to preserve the freshness.
How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last in the Fridge?
Cold temperatures will alter the flavor potency of pure and imitation vanilla extract.
You should never store vanilla extract in the fridge. The cold air will cause the extract to become cloudy. If the extract is cloudy, you may also see sediment on the bottom of the container. The cold air causes the extract to degrade.
Storing vanilla extract in the fridge diminishes the flavor. Often, people will notice the vanilla extract smells much more strongly of alcohol once it is refrigerated. At this point, it is best to discard the vanilla extract and purchase a new one. Vanilla extract adds an important flavor to baked goods, and adding an extract that does not smell correctly could impact the dish.
How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last in the Freezer ?
Cold temperatures will alter the flavor of pure and imitation vanilla extract.
You should never store vanilla extract in the freezer. Similar to the refrigerator, you should always store pure and imitation vanilla extract in a cool, dark place. Unlike many products in our kitchen, we cannot extend vanilla extract’s shelf life if we freeze it. Freezing vanilla extract will have a contrary effect.
Pure and imitation vanilla extract will lose its potency in the freezer. Additionally, since vanilla extract contains alcohol, it is unlikely to freeze anyway. Putting vanilla extract in the freezer would cause it to become cloudy. Ultimately, it would lose its potency and we would not want to use it.
Pure and imitation vanilla extract has the longest shelf life when you keep it outside. Never keep your vanilla extract in the fridge or freezer to avoid decreasing its shelf life.
How to Tell if Vanilla Extract Is Bad and How To Know if Vanilla Extract is Fresh
Smelling pure and imitation vanilla extract is the most efficient way to determine if it is bad or if it is fresh.
If vanilla extract does not have a strong vanilla scent, it has lost its potency. The extract is not bad in a way that will make us sick, but it will no longer add the flavor to our dishes that we intend it to.
It is unlikely vanilla extract will grow mold. Although it is unlikely, it is still a good idea to check the inside of the cap and inside of the bottle if you have not used the extract in a long time. If you do encounter mold, it is best to discard it and purchase a new vanilla extract.
Fresh vanilla extract should have a strong, vanilla smell. A very fresh bottle of pure vanilla extract will have an alcohol smell to it as it was recently produced using alcohol. The smell usually fades within a few weeks.
Check the best by date for pure and imitation vanilla extract. Checking the dates on the box at the grocery store will give you an idea of how aged the extract is that you are purchasing. Choose a box with the most recent date to maximize its shelf life in your kitchen.
How to Store Vanilla Extract
Properly storing vanilla extract can increase its shelf life.
Pure and imitation vanilla extract lasts longest when stored in a dark, cool place. Hot and cold temperatures as well as light and moisture impact the shelf life of vanilla extract.
Store vanilla extract in a dark glass container. Most companies sell the extract in a dark container, but you can use your own. Store the container with the extract in a cupboard to protect it from sunlight and kitchen lights. Lastly, ensure the container is sealed tightly to avoid extra exposure to air.
Store your vanilla extract away from heat. Heat can cause the vanilla extract to become cloudy, which impacts its flavor. Choose a cupboard that is not near the stove, dishwasher, or window.
Store your vanilla extract away from areas that may have moisture. This will prevent mold from growing on the inside of the cap. If the cupboard is away from heat, there should not be a risk of moisture.
Can You Freeze Vanilla Extract? How?
You should never store pure and imitation vanilla extract in the freezer.
Rather than increase vanilla extract’s shelf life, the freezer would decrease it. Cold temperatures impact the quality of vanilla extract. We should not use the vanilla extract if it was in the freezer as the taste will not be the same.
Vanilla extract is unlikely to freeze. Since manufacturers use alcohol to produce vanilla extract, it is unlikely to freeze. Placing it in the freezer would not be different than placing it in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vanilla Extract’s Shelf Life
Can expired vanilla extract make me sick? No, expired vanilla extract will not make you sick. The expiration date will help you determine the freshness of the vanilla extract. If the vanilla extract is expired, you should conduct a smell test. If it does not have a strong aroma, it has lost its potency. At this time, you should discard it.
What else can I do with vanilla extract? Most of us think of baking as vanilla extract’s sole use in our home. However, it has many other uses. We can use vanilla extract to deodorize the fridge and microwave, neutralize the smell of fresh paint, repel bugs, add a drop to lightbulbs to spread the scent, and relieve burns.
What type of vanilla has the longest shelf life? Pure vanilla has the longest shelf life. Pure vanilla extract should be stored in a dark, cool place away from hot and cold temperatures as well as light and moisture. It is best to use a dark glass container to store vanilla extract. If stored in these conditions, pure vanilla extract can last 5-10 years.
Vanilla extract is a staple household item that we use for baking. We use pure or imitation vanilla extract in small quantities, because when it is fresh, a little can go a long way. If we store it properly, we can use the same bottle of vanilla extract for 5-10 years.