An essential for any baking treat – it’s vanilla extract.
It’s in the name: vanilla extract is extracted from lovely vanilla beans and brings the best flavors to cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and so much more. What’s a baking day without the heavenly aroma and sweet flavor of vanilla extract?
Most people keep vanilla extract tucked away in their pantry until they need to use it. But have you ever wondered: Will my vanilla extract go bad? How long does it last?
In summary, vanilla extract can last a pretty long time if stored correctly, so you don’t need to be too concerned. Although, you may want to use it within 5 years to allow for the best flavors to come through in your baking.
How To Know If Vanilla Extract Has Gone Bad
Vanilla extract is highly unlikely to spoil. Thanks to its high alcohol content, it does not contain a good environment for bacteria to grow in.
However, if the smell or consistency is off, make sure to discard the bottle. A cloudy vanilla extract may be due to your vanilla extract being exposed to direct light or heat. However, if the smell is still as delightful as usual, it should be safe to consume. Your senses should tell you if your vanilla essence is spoiled.
Remember: keep an eye on the sell-by date if you want to ensure the best quality, flavor, and aroma for your vanilla extract. A significant change in flavor and aroma should not be noticeable until 5 years after it was bought.
Storing Vanilla Extract
When storing your vanilla extract temperature-wise, keep it at room temperature or just below. Vanilla extract should also be kept in a dark place away from light. For example, a cool, dry pantry, or spice drawer is the perfect spot.
Do not freeze or refrigerate the extract as this will affect the overall taste and you will want to keep its quality as fresh as possible.
The Shelf Life of Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is extremely durable and can last a really long time if stored properly.
You can find both pure and artificial vanilla extracts. Pure vanilla extract is more potent in smell and flavor and can last up to 10 years. Artificial or imitation vanilla extract will stay fresh for up to 2-5 years.
Because of its high alcohol content, vanilla extract can last almost indefinitely according to some sources. But rather consume it within the above times to be safe.
Fortunately, vanilla extracts last so long that it spares you and your wallet from frequently buying it. If stored in a cool, dry place, pure vanilla extract can last up to 10 years. Whereas, artificial vanilla extract can last up to 2-5 years.
However, be sure to check for any impurities in the vanilla extract in case any contaminants sneaked their way into the bottle. Although, its high alcohol content should protect your vanilla extract from that occurring.
If you’re a lover of vanilla extract, you may even want to make your own homemade recipe.