Vanilla beans are a must-have for every kitchen out there. There isn’t a dessert that couldn’t be made a little tastier with vanilla beans.
Vanilla beans add a certain sweet flavor and scent to any cake or cookies out there. They are a highly popular ingredient for sweet dishes and they can even be added to some drinks like smoothies or cocktails.
It’s no surprise this is one of those spices that are demanded all over the globe. Did you know that the island of Madagascar produces around 80% of the global demand for vanilla?
So, the exclusive place where Bourbon vanilla is produced is – you guessed it – Madagascar. Bourbon vanilla adds a fuller taste to any meal.
So, today you saw some Bourbon vanilla on sale. You thought about stocking up, but you’re not sure about the shelf life of vanilla beans.
How long do vanilla beans last, anyway? How to properly store this amazing spice? Continue reading for all the answers!
Do Vanilla Beans Go Bad?
If you want your dish to get a good hint of vanilla, you should always use fresh or dried vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract. Why?
Because beans are not processed like the extract. Vanilla beans have a more natural tasting, sweeter taste. If you want your dessert to knock everyone’s socks off – stick to vanilla beans.
But, do vanilla beans have a shelf life – do they go bad?
The answer is yes, vanilla beans can go bad. It’s not a surprise, like all fresh spices, they will go bad over time. There’s no way around it, it’s just the way it is.
Luckily, they have a pretty long shelf life, so you’ll probably have no problem using them in time. Just make sure to store the vanilla beans properly, so they don’t go bad before their time. For storage guidelines, use the advice in this article and the instructions on the packaging!
Let’s check out the nutritional value of the serving size – 0.2 oz:
How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last?
We already mentioned that vanilla beans have a pretty long shelf life. But how long, to be exact?
A bag of vanilla beans comes with a best-by or a best-before date printed on the packaging. A best-by date is simply a manufacturer’s guarantee that the food in question will retain the best quality up to the printed date.
Afterward, the food may change or lose some quality over time. That’s about it – but the food will not go bad as the date passes, don’t worry. The same story is with vanilla beans.
Vanilla beans will not go bad past the best-by date, and they will stay fine for quite sometime past the printed date.
What may happen after the best-by date is that the beans will inevitably start to degrade in quality. The decaying quality will affect the flavor and the smell.
So, in order words, the vanilla beans will stop being as potent as they used to be when they were fresh. How long do you have before it happens?
Well – to make sure you use the vanilla beans in their prime, you should stick to the best-by date. That is somewhere around year post-production.
When the best-by date passes, you have another year to use the vanilla beans, but the quality will be just a-okay. They won’t go bad… but they won’t be as flavorful, either.
This applies to the opened and unopened bags of vanilla beans. Opening the bag doesn’t affect the shelf life of vanilla beans.
Each region that grows vanilla beans, grows different tasting vanilla. Let’s check out this table to see the differences in taste:
|Madagascar vanilla||Rich taste, creamy|
|Mexican vanilla||Full taste, dark and smokey|
|Indian vanilla||Full taste, chocolate-like|
|Indonesian vanilla||Mild, balanced taste|
|Tahitian vanilla||Floral taste, cherry and chocolate-like|
|Tonga vanilla||Earthy taste, fig, and raisin-like|
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Storage Tips And Tricks For Vanilla Beans
Storage is the key element in keeping your food items fresh for a long time. Proper storage ensures you don’t have to throw out food that could have been eaten otherwise – saving you money as a plus.
So, what’s the proper way to store vanilla beans?
Storing vanilla beans is fairly easy to do, and you’ll have no problem remembering the right way. There is an important thing to keep in mind, though.
When you buy vanilla beans in bulk, the best idea is to open the bag after around four to five months. The beans are better off when they’re exposed to air – fresh air makes them last longer and keeps the good quality for longer.
The packaging for vanilla beans is usually a vacuum bag, which is usually enough to keep the beans safe from external factors. When you do open the bag, because you need the beans or just want to air them a bit, there are a few things to remember as well.
Pick a place like a pantry, but the kitchen cupboard can work, too. Any dry place away from the window or sources of heat (air vents, radiators, etc.) and will be fine.
Proper storage will prolong the freshness of your vanilla beans by a lot. If you don’t keep them correctly, you may find them flavorless after just two or three months, and we’re telling you this so you can gain a better idea of how important storage is.
Vanilla beans can be kept in the fridge and the freezer, too. However, we would like to advise against these paces because they can be bad news for the quality of your beans.
In reality, vanilla beans in the fridge can attract humidity and odors from their surroundings. This can result in your beans growing mold, or getting a funky smell – and flavor. All in all, not the best idea ever.
When it comes to the freezer, well, the beans can soak up odors as well. And the other thing is – the vanilla beans can dry out. Dried beans are no good for anything, but they can be brought back to life.
Soak them in milk and that will help them a bit. Don’t expect them to go back to their best quality, though.
There is a way to salvage your vanilla beans when you’re worried they might go bad before you get a chance to use them. Let’s face it – it happens, because there’s only a certain number of meals that can be complemented with vanilla.
If you have too many vanilla beans, you can make vanilla extract with some high-proof alcohol like vodka. Vanilla extract will keep for much longer than the beans.
See Also: Can You Freeze Baked Beans?
How To Tell If Vanilla Beans Have Gone Bad
Maybe you’ve forgotten about a bag of vanilla beans, or you lost it somewhere in your pantry. Hey, we’re not judging, it happens to everyone.
So, you’re not quite sure about the state of your vanilla beans. Read this section carefully to learn how to check the beans out.
First up, look at the beans – examine them. If there’s mold, it’s there due to humid storage conditions. It’s best if you throw these beans out, and be more careful about the next bag so it doesn’t happen again.
Also, the beans can develop a certain ‘frost’ over them. That’s no reason to throw them out – it’s just vanillin appearing on the surface. They’re still perfectly safe to use – we assure you.
If the vanilla beans look fine, but you’re still not sure – smell them. If the beans smell nothing like vanilla, or sweet, savory goodness, it’s best if you toss them out. If the vanilla beans look and smell like vanilla, they’re perfectly safe to use, believe us!
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How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last? – Conclusion
To conclude, we have determined how long vanilla beans last. How long is that, again?
Well, around two years, or a year past the best-by date. That’s not so true when it comes to vanilla beans in their best quality. If you want to use the beans in their prime, stick to the best-by date!
If you want to store them for a while, you will want to open the bag they’re vacuumed in. The vanilla beans will benefit from exposure to fresh air.
If you can see that the beans became frosty, that’s no reason to toss them out. Mold growth, however, is, and always will be a reason to throw food out. Be safe and you’ll always have fresh vanilla to use for food and drinks!