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Vanilla Extract Shelf Life | Top 3 Tips

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!

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.

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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 #3 – 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…

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.

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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.

Can vanilla extract be left out?

This is only a problem if it is of low quality. The high-grade dark or clear vanilla extract that we sell here lasts up to 8 years and some customers have had it last even longer. All you need to do is store it in a cool, dark place and keep the lid on tight. The alcohol will keep the moisture out and prolong the shelf life of your extract for many years to come.

Can vanilla extract be frozen?

A general rule of thumb is that anything containing alcohol should not be frozen because the freezing point is too low and will cause the product to break down. Freezing will have a detrimental impact on the flavor of vanilla extract when it is used in baking and this will directly reduce the useful shelf life of your product.

How long can vanilla extract last?

The shelf life of vanilla extract is usually between 4 and 6 years, but high quality dark or clear vanilla extract lasts 8 years or more if stored properly. This means properly storing it in a cool, dark, temperature-stable environment (60-78° F) and also making sure that you do not store it in an area where children can reach it. You should also make sure that you keep the lid tightly secured to prevent any air from getting into the bottle.

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Can you leave vanilla extract out overnight?

No, never leave vanilla extract out overnight. If you leave it out too long, the flavor of the product will begin to change and it will no longer be good for use in baking. The best way to ensure that your vanilla extract remains good for as long as possible is to store it in a cool, dark place where the light and air cannot reach it.

How do you make vanilla extract?

The best way to make vanilla extract is using one of these quality infusing kits so that you can cover your beans with high-quality vodka or whiskey (you can only use high-quality liquor because low quality brands have a higher water content).

Can vanilla extract go bad?

Yes, if stored improperly, vanilla extract can sour and go bad. To prolong the shelf life of your vanilla extract, you should store it in a cool, dark place where the light and air cannot get to it. You should also close your bottle tightly each time after you open it so that antioxidants do not evaporate but instead stay in your product to benefit its flavor. Yes, if the vanilla extract is not stored properly, it will become bad and not usable for baking. To help prevent this from happening to your vanilla extract, you should store it in a cool, dark place where the light and air cannot reach it.

How can you tell if vanilla extract has gone bad?

If you smell and taste the vanilla extract, it will probably taste unique and off. This can happen if your product was exposed to too much light and air. The best way to avoid this is keeping your vanilla extract in a cool, dark place and making sure that you do not open the bottle too often because this will help to preserve its flavor.

How long do you store unflavored vodka (vodka used for flavoring)?

You should keep unflavored vodka in the freezer until the bottle is almost empty so that it will not oxidize in the bottle. If it has been sitting around too long, this will cause microorganisms to grow on the surface of the liquid and will make it less tasty. It’s also going to change its color, so you should keep it out of direct light or use a dark colored bottle.

To keep your vanilla extract last as long as possible, store it properly. Make sure to store it in a cool, dark place where the light and air cannot get to it. You should also make sure that you keep the lid tightly secured to cover all of the vanilla beans. This will help to prevent any moisture or light from getting into your product and will dramatically increase its shelf life.