Vanilla Extract Shelf Life
All of us have suffered through the terrible experience of opening our refrigerator or pantry to discover a delicious food item that has gone bad… gross! It’s not only a waste of flavor, it’s a waste of money, and it often causes that terrible feeling of a pit in our stomach! We want to help you avoid this loss, so we compiled this list of the top tips for extending the vanilla extract shelf life, since vanilla is our passion and one of our premium offerings. Ready? Let’s get started!
Trying to decide the best type of vanilla extract to use? Check out our post about baking with brandy vanilla extract.
VANILLA EXTRACT SHELF LIFE | TOP 3 TIPS
The great thing about vanilla extract is that it can last a very long time if stored properly; however, the amount of time that vanilla extract can retain its peak flavor can vary widely depending on many factors. Extending your vanilla extract shelf life and maintaining its unique flavor profile can have a big impact on your next dish, dessert, or drink. Check out this list of our Top 3 Favorite Tips for keeping your vanilla extract fresh & delicious, and keep your family & friends coming back for more.
-oh and make sure not to miss the bonus tip at the end!
Tip #3 – Secure the Lid
This might seem like a “no-brainer,” but I have been surprised to discover how many bakers neglect this simple task. It could be that many of us are in a rush to create and share our delicious baked goods, so we overlook the proper care of ingredients. Avoid making this mistake!
After you’ve finished using your vanilla extract, take the time to make sure the lid and top of the bottle are both clean. Any residue can harden, which can create tiny gaps allowing air to reduce the flavor and shelf life. It can also make it more difficult to open the next time you decide to bake.
Now you’re ready to close the lid, usually by turning it clockwise. Turn until it feels secure and then stop; overtightening can also result in an improper seal. Now, you’re ready for Tip #2…
Tip #2 – Maintain Proper Storage
Coming in at #2 is another important tip: make sure that you properly store your vanilla extract. As a general rule, the extract is much more stable and easier to store than the individual vanilla beans. This is because the alcohol used in the extraction helps preserve the ingredients. You can still extend the vanilla extract shelf life by storing the vanilla extract in a cool, dark, temperature-stable environment (60-78° F). I also always recommend storing most food products in low humidity. For most people, kitchen cabinets or drawers meet all of these recommendations. I have also stored my personal vanilla extract in my finished basement cabinet, and I know other readers that have done the same. There is one other important point to remember for proper storage…
I’ve learned this part the hard way! Make sure that your vanilla extract is stored away from the curious reach of children. Younger kids have an uncanny ability to get into mischief, including breaking and/or spilling vanilla extract. Nothing can reduce vanilla extract shelf life faster than the bottle breaking, so store it high on a shelf or in a cabinet that the children can’t reach.
Tip #1 – Do Not Freeze or Refrigerate Vanilla Extract
Do Not Freeze Vanilla Extract
We all have that family member or friend that thinks they should freeze seemingly every food item to extend the useful life (I’m looking at you, Aunt Debbie). Vanilla extract is an example of a food product that should not be frozen. While it is true that the alcohol/spirits contained in the extract have an extremely low freezing point, that’s not an excuse to toss your expensive extracts in the ice box. Freezing will have a detrimental impact on the flavor of the vanilla extract, which will directly reduce the useful shelf life.
Do Not Refrigerate Vanilla Extract
I’ve gotten many questions about sticking vanilla extract in the fridge, and the simple answer is… don’t do it! While the negative impact usually isn’t as severe as freezing, refrigerating should also be avoided. The ethanol (alcohol) contained in the extract preserves the vanilla flavor at the stable room temperatures mentioned above. The lower temp of the fridge doesn’t help extend vanilla extract shelf life, and it could possibly reduce the complex flavor profile. Anecdotally, I’ve had several of our readers state that it brought out the flavor/aroma of the alcohol in their store bought vanilla extract, which leads us to our next tip…
Bonus Tip for Vanilla Extract Shelf Life | Choose Quality
The tips mentioned above will extend and improve your vanilla extract shelf life, no matter which brand you choose. But vanilla extract is a product where quality really matters, and there is a huge difference between premium extracts and low grade cheap options. If you want to have top quality flavor after several years of storage, you need to begin with a high grade vanilla.
Here at Lone Goose Bakery, we specialize in creating high quality vanilla extract. We create our vanilla extract in small batches and fill each bottle by hand. We use the highest quality beans sourced from Madagascar, Grade A Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. If you want to learn more about our vanilla or process you can click here or the picture above.
Vanilla Extract Shelf Life | Conclusion
Hopefully you’ve learned some new simple tips for extending your vanilla extract shelf life. This should help you get the most out of your vanilla and lead to more delicious desserts (and possibly drinks) in the future! If you follow the tips mentioned above, there is a great chance that your extract will actually have its flavor improve with age. Make sure to share with your family and friends, and we can stop vanilla waste! If you’re looking for another related post to read, check out our List of the Top Vanilla Beans for Extract.
Do you have any tips for extending vanilla extract shelf life? What is the longest you have kept vanilla extract, and how was the flavor affected? I’m sure many of you have great advice that you can share with our Lone Goose Bakery community. Please write your ideas or questions in the section below. We read & appreciate all comments, and I am personally very excited to see what all of you post.
I’m so glad I read this. I had been storing my vanilla extract in the fridge, and it retained a more powerful smell of alcohol, which could at times overpower the vanilla. Yikes!
I’ve had a bottle of vanilla extract for over 5 years, and it was still good to go.
5 years, that matches with our experience too! Thanks for the comment Lacey!