Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Lori Walker
Vanilla extract is an essential part of cooking and baking. It could replace vegetable oil, enhance savory dishes, and flavor different baking goods.
But it is also among the most expensive recipes in the market, and it would be really disappointing to ruin vanilla extract because of improper storage.
Hence, does vanilla extract need to be refrigerated?
Do You Need To Refrigerate Vanilla Extract?
No, you don’t need to refrigerate vanilla extract for storage. After opening it, you can keep it in a properly sealed bottle or container. Then look for a cool, dark location in the house to store it.
Vanilla extract is a popular but expensive baking ingredient. It is commonly used in vanilla cakes, ice cream, homemade icing or frosting, and vanilla pudding.
Is It Necessary?
No, it is not necessary to refrigerate vanilla extract after opening. As mentioned, there are more artificial vanilla extracts in the market than pure vanilla extracts.
Both types of vanilla extract are shelf-stable if stored properly, but they could maintain their quality and flavor differently.
“It is subject to weather issues in those regions, such as monsoons and other tropical storms, which can easily drive up the price of the vanilla.”– Stephen Chavez, Chef Instructor
Pure vanilla extract can maintain its best aroma and flavor for about five to ten years. And on the other hand, artificial vanilla extract can maintain its best quality for around two to four years.
You can still use the vanilla extracts beyond that, but the overall quality tends to diminish over a long time.
What Happens If You Put Vanilla Extract In The Fridge?
Vanilla extract will turn cloudy if put in the fridge for a long period. It has a high alcohol content of at least 35% by volume, making it hard for bacteria to grow and thrive in vanilla extracts.
It is not recommended to refrigerate or freeze vanilla extract, although the low temperature may not negatively impact its quality. However, as a baking ingredient, the vanilla extract should be at room temperature before using it.
What Is The Best Way To Store Vanilla Extract?
The best way to store vanilla extracts is by keeping them in a cool dark area in the pantry or the cupboard. Avoid exposing it to any heat source, such as a stovetop or oven.
Moreover, also avoid direct sunlight as it could also cause evaporation. You will notice how sellers used dark-colored glass bottles as the optimal containers for their vanilla extracts.
Restaurants and bakeries purchase their vanilla extract in pints-to-gallons and decant it into smaller plastic bottles.
Food-grade plastic bottles are safer in kitchen setup than fragile glass bottles that can shatter anytime.
What Is Vanilla Extract Made Of?
Vanilla extract is made of ethyl alcohol and vanilla beans. Based on FDA’s standard, the ethyl alcohol of vanilla extract must have a minimum content of 35% by volume . The alcohol is a shelf-stable ingredient and is used for extraction.
On the other hand, the vanilla constituent should at least have 13.35 ounces per gallon, and it could be directly extracted from vanilla beans.
Other ingredients for vanilla extracts, such as glycerin, corn syrup, or sugar, may also be used.
You can also find non-alcoholic vanilla extract, or those with a lesser alcohol content that don’t meet the FDA guidelines, called vanilla flavoring.
Is It Supposed To Be Refrigerated After Opening?
No, vanilla extract is not supposed to be refrigerated after opening. Place the vanilla extracts in a dark, airtight glass container or bottle.
It will help preserve the extract’s flavor and quality by protecting it from UV exposure.
The best temperature for storing a vanilla extract is around 60°F to 80°F. Places with lower temperatures, such as refrigerators and freezers, will cause it to become cloudy and alter its flavors.
Meanwhile, a loosely sealed container is more prone to evaporation, leading to unnecessary smells that mess up the quality of the vanilla extract.
Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad When Not Refrigerated?
No, the vanilla extract would not go bad if not refrigerated. The main ingredients of vanilla extract are alcohol and vanilla beans. Both are shelf-stable and, if stored properly, can go for a long time.
It is highly unlikely for bacteria to grow and ruin the quality of vanilla extract. But there’s still a possibility for it to happen.
That’s why it is important to choose a container with swing-top or screw-top seals and avoid cork-topped bottles.
You can still use the store-bought vanilla extract beyond its expiration date if you store it properly after opening.
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What is vanilla extract’s shelf life?
The shelf life of vanilla extract is indefinite and does not go bad in terms of food safety. However, the pure vanilla extract will lose its aroma and flavor in five to ten years. The imitation or artificial vanilla will lose its flavor in about two to four years.
How to know if vanilla extract has gone bad?
You will know that the vanilla extract has gone bad if it develops an unpleasant smell and taste. It would also look cloudy and muddy because of improper storage conditions.
Can bacteria grow in homemade vanilla extract?
No, bacteria will not grow in a homemade vanilla extract in proper storage conditions. But if the bottle is not properly sealed, the air exposure could lead harmful bacteria into the vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract is one of the most expensive baking recipes when making vanilla ice cream, vanilla pudding, or homemade icing.
The two main ingredients of pure vanilla extract make it shelf-stable, and you can still use it for up to a decade.
The FDA sets a minimum requirement for its alcohol content, making it hard for harmful bacteria to thrive and grow.
As a result, you do not need to refrigerate vanilla extract. It could maintain its flavor and quality by storing it in cool, dark areas like a cupboard.
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