If you recently purchased a bunch of vanilla beans, you're probably asking yourself two questions. How long do vanilla beans last? And, how do you store them? Keep reading for the answers to these questions and more.
So, how long do vanilla pods last? If stored properly, they will stay fresh for up to eight months.
While that sounds straightforward, vanilla beans are delicate and can be easily ruined. Read on for all the details on successfully storing, airing, and using your delicious pods.
- Do vanilla beans go bad?
- What does mold on vanilla beans look like?
- How to store vanilla beans
- How to store vanilla beans in alcohol
- How to rehydrate dried vanilla beans
- Can you freeze vanilla beans?
- Can you refrigerate vanilla beans?
- How often do I need to “air” my vanilla beans?
- How long does vanilla extract last?
- How to use vanilla bean
- Recipes with vanilla
Do vanilla beans go bad?
Vanilla beans will eventually go bad. But, if you store them properly from the beginning, they can last up to two years. Although, most experts recommend you consume them within eight months for the best flavour.
Here's what you need to know:
- Vanilla beans should be stored in airtight containers at the correct temperature and moisture levels. I share more details on this below.
- Vanilla beans age and mature over time. So, their flavour profile actually improves in storage, much like a good bottle of wine.
- Vanilla beans purchased from the grocery store are often already dried out. If you want your pods to last longer, it's best to purchase vanilla pods from a reputable seller with high-quality beans. Look for pungent, moist, and oily vanilla pods that come tightly sealed.
- If you're concerned about the quality of your vanilla pods, you can use them to make homemade vanilla extract. This will keeps indefinitely. Here’s a recipe for making vanilla extract from scratch.
What does mold on vanilla beans look like?
Vanilla beans can become moldy, especially if they are stored in humid conditions. Fuzzy, spongy spots will appear on the beans. If you find these, you should discard the pod.
That said, vanilla beans have other reactions that you may confuse for mold:
- Vanilla butter: Typically found at the top and bottom of the vanilla pod, this substance is light in colour. If held close to a heat source, it will melt like regular butter.
- Vanilla spots: Found along the pod itself, these white spots can be mistaken for mold. These appear in low temperatures when the fat from the vanilla freezes. Again, place the vanilla pods near a heat source for a short time. If they disappear, this isn't mold.
How to store vanilla beans
The first time I bought vanilla pods, I had no idea how to store them. Now that I have it figured out, I'd like to share the details with you. This is how to store fresh vanilla beans.
Here's What You'll Need:
- Airtight vessel: Use a glass container with a tight fitting lid. This will ensure minimal air is circulating inside and moisture loss is kept to a minimum. Avoid plastic containers as their compounds can affect the flavour of the vanilla pods. If you have it, a dark glass jar that blocks sunlight is ideal.
- Wax paper: Used as an extra layer of protection.
- Wrap the vanilla beans in wax paper.
- Place in an airtight vessel.
- Store in a dark, dry place at room temperature (roughly 72 degrees F or 22 degrees C). I use my pantry.
- Air regularly. Vanilla beans need to be aired every so often. Simply remove the beans from the container once a month and let them sit in open air for roughly ten minutes.
Tip: Many vanilla pods come in vacuum-sealed bags. I don't recommend opening the bag until you're ready to use the beans.
How to store vanilla beans in alcohol
If you're not finding success with the previous method, or want to try something different, you can also store your vanilla pods in alcohol.
A bonus of this method is that it's easier to extract the vanilla seeds from the pod when it comes time to use them. The alcohol travels up the inside of the bean turning the seeds into a paste that can be pinched out.
Here's what you'll need:
- Vodka or rum
- Large glass jar with lid
- Fill a large glass jar with 1 inch of vodka or rum.
- Cut ⅛ inch off each vanilla pod.
- Stand beans in the jar.
- Put the lid on the jar and store in the fridge for at least two weeks before use.
- Pinch bean between fingers and squeeze out paste when you're ready to use them.
How to rehydrate dried vanilla beans
Vanilla beans forgotten in the pantry for too long will inevitably dry out.
Dried vanilla beans aren't ideal to cook with. Not only do they become brittle and hard to work with, but they also lose some of their flavour with the moisture that evaporates.
Nevertheless, dried vanilla beans can be resurrected. You simply need to soak them in hot water for a few hours. This softens the leathery skin, making it easy once again to split the pod open with a knife and access the seeds.
Use these pods right away if possible. If you're planning to store them again, ensure they are thoroughly dried to avoid the risk of growing mold.
Can you freeze vanilla beans?
Freezing vanilla beans is a hard no. This will dry the pods out, preventing them from continuing to cure and develop their delicious flavour.
Can you refrigerate vanilla beans?
Never refrigerate vanilla beans. Doing so will not only dry the pods, but also provide the perfect environment for mold to grow.
How often do I need to “air” my vanilla beans?
Storing vanilla beans in airtight containers is very important. But, so is letting them breath. It's best to air your vanilla pods once a month. Simply remove them from their storage vessel and let them sit in open air for approximately ten minutes.
How long does vanilla extract last?
Does vanilla extract expire?
When stored properly, the shelf life of vanilla extract is indefinite. That said, experts recommend using it within five years for the best flavour. Never refrigerate or freeze your vanilla extract.
How to use vanilla bean
What can vanilla beans be used for?
Vanilla beans are an excellent addition to any meal that contains vanilla extract. They can replace vanilla extract in your recipe or be made into a homemade vanilla extract.
To get started, you simply halve the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds from inside.
1 vanilla pod = 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
Recipes with vanilla
Check out some of my favourite recipes using vanilla below:
So, how long do vanilla pods last? Up to two years. Just be sure to store the pods in an airtight container in the right temperature and light conditions.