If you’re planning on cooking up a storm with your vanilla beans or simply looking to make sure you get the most from your purchase, then knowing the right way to store them is key. In this post, we will answer all your questions about the different storage options for vanilla beans.
The Best Way to Store Vanilla Beans
If you are buying vanilla beans online or in a store, knowing how to store them correctly will ensure they stay fresh and delicious for as long as possible. In this section, we outline the best way to store your beans.
The Best Type of Containers for Storing Vanilla Beans
Two of the biggest things you want to avoid when storing your vanilla beans are moisture and air. Choosing a container that is 100% airtight is key to prevent moisture loss.
This is why we ship out beans in our custom BPA free vacuum sealed packages. We use commercial chamber vacuum sealers to remove any air or moisture from the package to ensure the beans stay as fresh as possible. We highly recommend storing them in a vacuum bag but also realize not everyone has a vacuum sealer at home.
The next best option is to find an airtight glass jar. First, put them in a Ziploc bag and get as much air as possible out of it before sealing it. Then, place them inside the glass jar. If you want to go a step further, try to find a jar that is made with dark glass or perhaps a glazed ceramic. This option blocks out the natural sunlight, so it is a better option that using a clear glass jar. The size of the container also matters. You don’t want there to be too much room in the jar for the air to circulate. When choosing a storage container for your vanilla beans, try to pick one that will comfortably fit the size of the beans. If you can do this, then you will be keeping the moisture loss to a bare minimum.
As a final point to note, you want to store your vanilla beans at room temperature, ideally between 59 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit. It needs to be not too hot or cold. Although typical with other foodstuffs, don’t be tempted to put your vanilla beans into the fridge or freezer. If you do this, you will immediately prevent the pods from curing any further and they will be dried out. In some cases, storing vanilla beans in the refrigerator or freezer has been known to produce mold.
So, while it might seem like an obvious option, you should never freeze of refrigerate your vanilla beans.
Step-By-Step Guide to Storing Vanilla Beans
#1 – Only open the beans when you actually need to use them. This ensures they stay as fresh as possible in their factory packaging. For Grade A beans that have a higher moisture rate, we always recommend using as much as possible without having to store any extra. We recommend this because the beans already have a higher moisture rating and any mistake in storing them will make them more susceptible to mold.
#2 – Store your vanilla beans in an airtight container, preferably one that is vacuum sealed or which does not allow lots of sunlight to get it. If you are going to use a glass container, first wrap the beans in a Ziploc bag removing as much air as possible. You can also simply give the glass container a coat of glazing in a dark color to prevent any light from penetrating it. Although Tupperware is relatively airtight, you want to avoid using this plastic container as it can absorb some of the vanilla flavor – glass is always preferable to plastic unless it is a vacuum bag.
3 – Use a cool, dark place such as a cupboard, pantry, or even a basement to store your vanilla beans. Think about storing it in the same place that you currently store other sensitive foods, such as olive oil, chocolate, and bread.
#4 – Regular Airing. If you plan on storing vanilla beans for more than a few weeks, we recommend airing out the vanilla beans every 8 weeks. When properly done, this can be what makes the difference between your vanilla beans lasting 6 months or two years. As we’ve already covered, it’s important to store the beans in an airtight container, but you also need to let them breathe. This typically only needs to be done in very warm climates.
In doing this, you will make sure the beans aren’t sweating in their containers, and this is vital as any additional moisture can cause mold and is generally bad for vanilla beans.
To air the vanilla beans, take them out from their container and give them around 15 minutes of time to breathe making sure they are not in any direct sunlight. Once the time is up, simply re-wrap the beans, place them back in their airtight container, and return them to their cool, dark homes once more.
How Long Do Vanilla Beans Last?
As long as you store them correctly, the lifespan of a vanilla bean can be anything between 6 months up to two years. However, it’s essential that you store them optimally and in ideal conditions if you intend on holding onto them for this long.
Can you freeze fresh vanilla beans?
No, you should not freeze or refrigerate fresh vanilla beans, ever. It can dry out the vanilla pods and in some cases, it can cause the beans to go bad and rot.
Can you save half a vanilla bean?
Yes, you can but again, we recommend using all your beans as soon as possible. You’ll still need to follow the same storage instructions as before. When you slice the vanilla bean in half, try to do this crosswise so as to protect the middle of the pod. This way, it will stay moist for longer.
Does vanilla ever go bad?
Vanilla beans can last for any period between 6 months and two years. However, like all foodstuffs, if it is not stored in optimal conditions, it can go bad. On the other hand, pure vanilla extract can actually have a near-infinite shelf-life. This is most likely due to its alcohol base, which, over time, will actually enhance the flavor as well as prolong its lifetime indefinitely.