Does Vanilla Bean Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 28th, 2022

Vanilla is, without a doubt, one of the most popular spices all over the world. People from all over the world have commended it for its delicious flavor and enticing scent. But, before we get started, tell us a little bit about this world-famous spice.

Vanilla, its origins, and applications

Vanilla planifolia, often known as Mexican flat-leaved vanilla, is obtained from orchids of the Mexican flat-leaved vanilla trees. They are orchids of the genus Vanilla. The term vanilla is derived from the Spanish word vaina. The original Spanish term translates as “pods” or “sheath.”

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This world-famous spice is used in so many cuisines in so many different ways that it is widely recognized. In addition, vanilla is the world’s second most costly spice, behind saffron. As a result, you can quickly predict its celebrity.

How Long Does Vanilla Bean Last?

Vanilla beans are an expensive commodity to have in your kitchen. Therefore you should know how to use it before it goes to waste. In addition, vanilla beans, unlike vanilla extract, do not last indefinitely.

Pantry (Stored Properly)Stored improperly
Unopened Vanilla BeansUp to 2 years or moreAroma and flavor degrade with time
Opened Vanilla Beans6 to 8 monthsAroma and flavor degrade with time

It isn’t easy to properly specify the life of the vanilla beans you purchased at the store. The life of the beans is determined by the quality of the pods and the storage conditions you supply.

Unused vanilla beans may be stored in an airtight container in a cold, dark area for a year or two without losing their scent and taste. In addition, this airtight container keeps the beans hydrated and prevents them from drying out.

However, once opened and utilized, it is strongly advised to consume the product within 6 to 8 months to appreciate its natural taste. The beans lose their scent and taste with time and usually dry out and go to waste.

The time mentioned above frame is solely for those who wish to taste the true flavor of the beans. Naturally, the quality deteriorates with time, but it is safe to use for considerably longer.

Furthermore, if the pods are incorrectly kept, mold will begin to form on them even before their anticipated shelf-life.

How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last in the Open Air?

Vanilla beans should be kept in an airtight container in a cold, dark area. A cabinet or closet is a good place to start. Open the container every few weeks to let it air out.

Vanilla pods may live up to 24 months if stored properly. However, it is not advised to preserve the vanilla beans for longer. This is because vanilla beans lose taste and strength after this period.

Six months is the suggested time frame. With this time range, the excellent taste is more likely to be achieved.

How Long Do Vanilla Beans Keep in the Refrigerator?

When no moisture is present, a vanilla bean’s shelf life is extended. Mold will grow on the pod if there is moisture present.

Storing them in the fridge increases the possibility of mold formation. Furthermore, the chilly air will dry up the pods over time.

If you decide to keep it in the fridge, utilize it within three days. They should be kept in an airtight container. They may be wrapped in a paper towel or a moisture wick. They may also be vacuum packed and kept in the fridge. This may result in an extension of the shelf life.

How Long Can Vanilla Beans Be Stored in the Freezer?

The least recommended method of storing vanilla beans is freezing them. The reason for this is the same as why they should be kept in the fridge. However, freezing does not increase shelf life; rather, it accelerates the drying process.

They are still feasible to freeze and store. For example, if stored in a vacuum-sealed bag, vanilla bean pods have a shelf life of 12 months.

The easiest method to preserve vanilla beans and ensure their life is to put them in a glass jar in a cupboard. It is recommended to keep the jar at ambient temperature.

How to Tell if Vanilla Beans Are Bad

Vanilla beans may be used for up to two years if not opened and kept correctly. However, if the vanilla bean is opened and not properly stored, the scent and essence of the vanilla bean diminish with time.

Here are some visible symptoms: your vanilla beans have degraded and are no longer appealing to your senses.

1. Mold Development

Molds are spongy or springy spots on beans that appear when they are kept in very humid circumstances. When these molds are discovered, beans are often thrown.

There may be a simple solution if the molds are just visible on the surface.

Scraping the mold using a cloth soaked in a high alcohol content drink is an alternative, but the beans will not have the same taste and scent.

However, if molds begin to form within the pods, the best alternative is to discard the beans.

2. Frosting

When the beans begin to dry up, they develop frost. The frost forms inside the pods and spreads to the surface. The frost on the beans seems to be firm and glossy.

The frost, unlike the molds, does not ruin the vanilla beans. The iced vanilla beans are safe to eat, but the scent and flavor have been compromised. The lesser the quality, the drier the beans.

It’s possible to revitalize dry vanilla beans by soaking them in warm water for a few hours before using them. However, we should not anticipate rehydration to improve the quality of deteriorated beans.

When do vanilla beans get too dry?

Vanilla beans that have dried out are less prone to go bad. Unfortunately, there is no purpose in utilizing them at a certain point since they would have lost all that made them unique. They can be rehydrated, but not in such a way that lost taste notes are miraculously returned. As a general rule, they won’t taste good if they don’t smell well.

The Dangers of Eating Expired Vanilla Beans

To begin with, vanilla beans do not spoil readily. The main issue is mold growth, easily visible to the naked eye. So, the likelihood of swallowing damaged vanilla beans is relatively minimal.

However, vanilla beans are often used in very small quantities in the majority of recipes. Therefore, even if you ingest outdated beans, you are unlikely to have serious health problems.

Other molds that grow on food may cause allergic responses and respiratory problems, and some can even release a toxin known as ‘Mycotoxin,’ which ill people.

As a result, frozen vanilla beans are perfectly safe to ingest, while moldy beans may make you sick, resulting in minor health difficulties. However, if too much moldy vanilla is taken, the condition may be dangerous and should be treated by a doctor.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Storing Vanilla Beans

Only open the beans when you’re ready to utilize them.

This keeps them as fresh as possible in their original manufacturing packing. We usually propose utilizing as much as feasible of Grade A beans with a higher moisture rate without needing to store any extra. We suggest this since the beans have a higher moisture rating, and any mistakes in storage would make them more prone to mold.

Place your vanilla beans in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

Preferably one that is vacuum sealed or does not allow direct sunlight to enter. Cover the beans in a Ziploc bag to remove as much air as possible if you’re using a glass container. You may apply a dark-colored glaze on the glass container to prevent light from accessing it. 

Although Tupperware is pretty sealed, you should avoid using it since it will absorb part of the vanilla taste – glass is usually superior to plastic unless it is a vacuum bag.

Use a cool, dark location.

For example, a closet, pantry, or cellar may be used to keep your vanilla beans. Consider keeping it in the same location where you keep other delicate foods like olive oil, chocolate, and bread.

Ongoing Airing.

If you want to keep vanilla beans for more than a few weeks, we suggest airing them out every 8 weeks. When done correctly, this might be the difference between your vanilla beans lasting 6 months or two years. As previously said, preserving the beans in an airtight container is critical while allowing them to breathe. This is usually only necessary in very hot areas.

This ensures that the beans aren’t sweating in their containers, which is critical since any excess moisture may create mold and is generally negative for vanilla beans.

To air the vanilla beans, remove them from their container and allow them to breathe for about 15 minutes, ensuring they are not in direct sunlight. When the timer runs out, just re-wrap the beans, put them in their airtight container, and return them to their cold, dark homes.

How to Store Vanilla Beans in Other Ways

Vanilla is delicious in any dish, and the scent is out of this world. How would you feel if you had to get rid of them? Isn’t that bad?

To help you out, we’ve included a few vanilla bean storing guidelines below. We’ve covered everything from keeping new vanilla beans to different methods of preserving used-up pods.

Produce Vanilla Extract

Making your vanilla extract is simpler than you would imagine. Infuse opened or dried vanilla beans in alcohol or vegetable glycerin and let the bottle at room temperature. The more you wait, the more delicious the taste gets.

You may also make an extract from your discarded vanilla beans. However, this method may need more beans to produce the concentrated extract.

Store in an airtight container filled with vodka.

Storing your vanilla beans in an airtight jar filled with vodka is a wonderful technique to keep them wet and juicy for years without mold development.

Because alcohol is a natural preservative, it keeps the pods fresh and helps them maintain moisture.

Do not refrigerate.

Refrigerating the vanilla beans may cause them to dry out. Furthermore, the additional moisture in the refrigerator increases mold formation on the beans.

Dry and grind the beans.

This is a fantastic suggestion if you don’t want to throw away your used-up beans. Instead, you may dry them in the oven and grind them after they’re crispy. The powder has a strong taste, and a teaspoon may be enough for many of your dishes.

Make the Vanilla-Flavored Sugar.

Though not a precise storage method, it may be useful if you have a few extra beans lying about. You may put a few of them in your caster sugar container and watch the magic happen.

Remember that after the beans are removed, the scent from the sugar will immediately dissipate.

Can Vanilla Beans Be Freeze?

Vanilla beans, also known as vanilla pods, are delicate and aromatic. They must be stored and cared for properly to keep their scent, essence, and structure. Almost every chef and pastry chef will tell you that you should never refrigerate or freeze your vanilla beans for storage.

And they have every right to say so. Vanilla beans, however, do not freeze well. Freezing usually has the reverse effect of prolonging the shelf life, and there are better methods to keep vanilla beans. Air and moisture exposure will also harm the structure of the vanilla beans and increase the likelihood of mold formation.

However, if required, vanilla beans may be frozen. When freezing vanilla beans, there are a few things to remember and be prepared for. It needs special attention and approaches, which I’ll discuss in the next sections.

Benefits of Freezing Vanilla Beans

Before I show you how to freeze vanilla beans, let’s discuss the benefits and drawbacks of freezing vanilla beans so you can assess your alternatives.

The first advantage of freezing vanilla beans is that they may be preserved and stored for a longer period. While it is not the ideal way to preserve vanilla beans, if done properly, you may prolong their shelf life for a while.

Second, freezing vanilla beans will keep their taste and perfume intact. Although the texture varies, the essence of vanilla remains.

Finally, it will allow you to save money! Vanilla beans are expensive, and you’d do everything to conserve and enjoy what you have.

The Drawbacks of Freezing Vanilla Beans

Freezing vanilla beans increases the likelihood of their drying out and altering texture and structure. The chilly temperature will remove any moisture in the beans.

Another disadvantage of freezing vanilla beans is that they become more prone to mold. Mold will soon grow on the beans if it is present, and you will have to discard them. What a waste!

Freezing vanilla beans is also a time-consuming and difficult operation. However, their techniques for storing and preserving vanilla beans may provide superior results.

Finally, the likelihood of your vanilla beans being damaged or spoiling when freezing is greatly increased. Again, this is due to their sensitivity.

Vanilla Bean Freezing Instructions

To remove all air, use a vacuum sealer: Put the vanilla beans in a vacuum-safe bag and seal it. A vacuum sealer suctions air out of a plastic bag, then seals the bag to keep air out.

Label and date the bags: The date on the bag reminded you of when the beans were frozen. It’s better not to keep the beans frozen for a year.

To store vanilla beans in a glass jar, remove them from the freezer and wrap them in a paper towel to dry. Once dried and mold-free, place them in an airtight container.

How Should Vanilla Beans Be Thawed?

When you’re ready to use the frozen vanilla beans in a recipe, defrost them.

Wrap the beans in a tea towel or paper towel after removing them from the freezer.

Allow them to dry for 4 to 5 hours, ensuring no moisture buildup.

Is it possible to preserve half a vanilla bean?

You certainly can. You must still adhere to the same storage guidelines as previously. When cutting the vanilla bean in half, attempt to do it crosswise to preserve the center of the pod. In this manner, it will remain wet for a longer period.

How To Make Vanilla Extract From Old Vanilla Beans

Have a bunch of vanilla beans expiring in the next several months?

Consider creating vanilla extract to use your vanilla beans while extending their lives.

  • Make a slit through the center of the vanilla beans to reveal the seeds. You don’t have to disassemble the bean entirely.
  • Fill a container or jar halfway with 6 vanilla beans. If your vanilla beans are too large, chop them into smaller pieces.
  • 1 cup of vodka should be poured over the beans. Then, if necessary, add a little more – until your vanilla beans are completely soaked, they will get sticky.

Seal the container and shake it vigorously.

Keep the jar at room temperature and give it a good shake once a week. If you’re in a hurry, utilize the vanilla within 8 weeks. Otherwise, let a year for the flavors to mature.

You should anticipate your handmade vanilla extract to last at least two years longer!

So, how long does vanilla extract last?

Vanilla extract may be kept in a cool, dry location forever. When kept from heat, vanilla extract will not deteriorate, but its taste will decrease with time.

For many years, your vanilla extract will be safe and tasty. The key to extending the life of your vanilla extract is to keep it away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place, such as your pantry.

How to Prepare Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Extract from Scratch

You may produce your vanilla extract or essence from vanilla beans. You need two ingredients: high-quality vanilla beans and alcohol (usually vodka). Slit your beans in half, lay them in a jar, cover them with vodka, and let them for 2 months. The more time, the better!

Vanilla Extract may be substituted.

Alternatively, soft vanilla beans may be used in place of vanilla extract. Slit the beans in half and scrape the vanilla seeds with a knife.

1 vanilla pod may be substituted for 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Spirits and flavored syrups

You may ditch the store-bought vanilla syrup and spirits to make your own at home. Vanilla beans would work nicely and add flavor to any liquor or syrup in which you marinade it. Place a vanilla bean in a heated syrup or spirit bottle and let it brew. However, the longer you boil vanilla beans, the stronger the flavor will get, so use caution!

You may utilize your syrups and spirits in various ways, including baked goods, dessert drizzles, cocktails, and more.


Now, if you find yourself with empty vanilla bean pods or dried vanilla beans, don’t toss them! Instead, you may create potpourri with them in your home. Vanilla extract is often used to create potpourri with dried spices, but vanilla pods may also be used in its stead.

Products for the home

Finally, manufacturing various household items is another option to employ vanilla beans with a strong scent. For example, vanilla beans are an excellent ingredient in handmade candles and soaps.


If vanilla isn’t a typical recipe component, don’t stock up on this expensive spice. If you’ve already purchased too many, powder them or make the extract.

However, if you are concerned that you will not complete them before they go bad, the best solution is to give them to someone close to you.


Editorial Staff

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