How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last

How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last? A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Lori Walker

The memory of picking a mature vanilla bean from my grandmother’s garden is still vivid in my mind. The slim, dark structure of it, along with its captivating scent, sparked my curiosity about its longevity.

Most of us are used to the sweet aroma of vanilla in our baked treats, but few have had the joy of experiencing a real vanilla bean. So, how long do vanilla beans last? 

Today, I’ll share the shelf life of these beans and learn how to make the most of their delicious potential.

How Long Are Vanilla Beans Good For?

Close Up Image of Vanilla Beans

On average, vanilla beans [1] can last six months to three years. Although these beans are a flavorful delight, they don’t last indefinitely.

Meanwhile, when stored correctly, these aromatic pods can maintain their potency for a considerable duration.

“Every little bean must be heard as well as seen!”

Erich Maria Remarque, German Novelist

As such, vanilla beans should be stored in an airtight container in a cold, dark environment, away from moisture and direct sunlight. 

This safeguards their delightful essence, ensuring they remain a valuable ingredient in your culinary adventures for an extended period.

But how long will vanilla extract last?

How Do You Tell If Your Vanilla Beans Are Still Good?

To check if your vanilla beans are still good, inspect them closely. If the beans appear dull and lack a subtle sheen when exposed to light, this could indicate deterioration. 

Next, if they emit a foul odor or have a powdery substance on their surface, they may have developed mold and should be discarded. 

Lastly, beware of vanilla beans that appear dark-skinned, soft, and overly pliable, as these are indications of spoilage. 

Always remember that vanilla beans should exude a rich, aromatic fragrance. 

Trust your senses to inspect their freshness, as well-preserved vanilla beans are essential for enhancing the flavor of your dishes.

How Many Times Can Vanilla Beans Be Used To Make Vanilla?

Typically, vanilla beans can be employed to make vanilla extract multiple times, usually ranging from 2 to 4 uses. 

The freshness of the beans and the length of time that the extract has been resting will determine the number of times you can reuse them. 

High-quality beans may yield more uses, while beans that have been steeped for an extended period might have less flavor to offer.

Find out why vanilla extract costs so much here.

How To Keep Vanilla Beans Fresh For A Long Time?

  1. Proper Wrapping: Begin by wrapping your vanilla beans individually in either wax paper or plastic wrap. This helps prevent them from drying out and losing their flavor.
  2. Minimize Air Exposure: Squeeze out as much air as possible from the container before sealing it. This prevents the beans from drying out and losing their potency.
  3. Utilize Glass Vials: Consider using 8″ long glass vials, ideal for storing vanilla beans. Many of these jars come with plastic caps that lock well, allowing you to store anywhere from five to seven vanilla beans for eight to twelve months.
  4. Avoid Refrigeration: Never store vanilla beans in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can dry them out and expose them to excess moisture, which may lead to a specific type of mold that affects vanilla quality.
  5. Airing the Beans: Remember to air your vanilla beans regularly. Take them out of the container every few weeks to allow air circulation for approximately 10-15 minutes. This simple step helps maintain their freshness and aroma, ensuring they are ready to infuse your recipes with delightful flavor.

Is It Possible To Freeze Vanilla Beans To Keep Them Fresh?

Vanilla Bean

Freezing or refrigerating vanilla beans is not recommended. Both of these methods can harm the quality of the beans.

And it can lead to the drying out of vanilla beans, hindering their ability to continue the curing process. 

This process, crucial for developing their rich flavor, is best preserved by storing the beans in a cool, dark place at room temperature. 

As such, to savor the full aromatic potential of your vanilla beans, it’s advisable to avoid freezing and refrigerating them and opt for proper room-temperature storage instead.

What Should You Do With Expired Vanilla Beans?

When your vanilla beans have dried out and have expired, don’t discard them. Instead, grind the expired vanilla beans into a fine powder. 

This vanilla bean powder can be a versatile addition to your culinary delights. 

“Much like a fine wine, vanilla beans too age gracefully, their flavors becoming richer and more complex over time, adding depth to your creations.”

Leonelli Bakery

Sprinkle it into baked goods for a delightful hint of vanilla flavor, incorporate it into dry rubs for meats, or mix it into beverage blends for a unique twist. 

Even expired vanilla beans can continue to enhance your dishes, proving that there’s always a way to make the most of these aromatic pods, even after their shelf life has passed.

Also Read: Is It Necessary To Keep Vanilla Extract In The Fridge?


Can vanilla beans go bad in liquor?

No, vanilla beans preserved in alcohol can stay fresh for several months, making it a popular method for infusing vanilla flavor into various beverages and recipes. 

The alcohol acts as a preservative, allowing you to enjoy the essence of the vanilla beans over an extended period without spoilage.

Find out what makes vanilla extract taste bad here.

What type of alcohol is best for making homemade vanilla extract?

The most commonly used alcohol for homemade vanilla extract is vodka [2], owing to its neutral flavor that allows the vanilla to shine. 

Why are vanilla beans put in hot water after they’ve been picked?

Dipping vanilla beans in hot water serves two crucial purposes: it halts further growth of the bean and triggers the release of enzymes responsible for vanillin production, the primary flavor component of vanilla.

Is it possible to vacuum-seal vanilla beans?

Yes, vacuum-sealing vanilla beans is an effective method to maintain their freshness. 

This process removes air and moisture from the package, ensuring the beans remain as fresh as possible and preserving their aromatic qualities for an extended period.

Key Takeaways

Based on research and insights it has taught me the importance of proper storage and resourcefulness. 

Vanilla beans have a shelf life that can range from six months to three years if stored properly and protected from moisture and light. 

Remember, they should never find their way into the refrigerator or freezer. When they start to show their age, don’t worry. 

Repurpose those dried-out beans into a fragrant powder, perfect for elevating your culinary creations. 


Lori Walker

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