Nothing breaks our hearts more than hearing stories about exquisite vanilla pods being wasted because of improper storage. Yet, there's no one to blame here, as vanilla bean storage is an art that not everyone knows about.
Well, we're here to change that. We've created a guide to clarify the most effective storage methods to keep this persnickety spice at its best.
For a deeper dive into the world of this vanilla delicacy, make sure to check Vanilla Bean Kings' blog section!
What Is the Shelf Life of Vanilla Beans?
Vanilla beans can last upwards of two years if stored properly. Now, they're not exactly the type of beans that spoil when they expire, but rather, they tend to dry out.
So, while the beans might still be safe to use after their shelf life, you'll notice they have little to no taste or aroma left. This is because as vanilla dries or ages, its flavor compounds degrade significantly.
Leaving aside the general lifespan, we always recommend using fresh vanilla beans as soon as possible-preferably within 6 to 8 months. Why? Because this is their golden period when you can truly enjoy the intense, fresh vanilla flavor.
Can I Make Vanilla Beans Last Longer?
For those asking how to extending the lifespan of vanilla beans, unfortunately, there's no magic spell. They'll eventually dry out, no matter how carefully you store them. That said, we do have one trick up our sleeves in this regard!
That is, making homemade vanilla extract (see our recipe), as this will help you maintain that heavenly vanilla flavor for as long as possible. Pure vanilla extract, you see, has a nearly infinite shelf life.
However, there's a tiny catch — since the extract is alcohol-based, there will be a gradual evaporation process. This means that the intensity of the vanilla essence may mellow out over time. That's why it must be kept in an airtight glass bottle with a leakproof seal.
Optimal Vanilla Bean Storage Conditions
Cue drum roll, please, as we're about to reveal the essential guidelines for storing vanilla beans! These pods demand specific conditions — four, to be precise — to preserve their vanilla goodness for the longest duration possible.
Once you get your fresh vanilla pods, you'll notice that they're moist, flexible, and emit a strong smell (if they're not, you should have a chat with the supplier). That's the state we want to maintain, and it all starts with proper packing that keeps air out.
Air is your number one enemy as it accelerates the drying of the beans. To prevent air from reaching your vanilla beans, we recommend keeping them in a BPA-free vacuum-sealed bag.
When you purchase our premium vanilla beans, they are packaged in a custom BPA-free pouch and sealed to 28HG perfection using a commercial chamber sealer. For long term storage, you should have a vacuum sealer to reseal the bag after use.
In a pinch, you can wrap your beans in wax paper and use an air-tight glass bottle or jar not much bigger than the beans themselves. This helps the beans remain as much moisture as possible.
Limited Light Exposure
Keep your packaged vanilla beans in a dark place away from direct sunlight. That's because bright sunlight exposure can severely degrade their quality. Your pantry or cupboard will make the perfect hideaway.
Remember that putting the pods in dark packaging won't protect them from light damage, so you'll still need to hide them.
Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, are trouble for vanilla beans. Avoid storing them in rooms subjected to high levels of heat and, most importantly, refrigerators.
Storing vanilla beans in the refrigerator or freezer will take away any moisture in the beans, and can even promote the growth of a vanilla bean-specific mold. All vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, etc. should be kept in a dry space away from direct sunlight.
It'd be ideal to store vanilla beans in a dry room, with a temperature ranging between 60°F and 85°F.
You shouldn't allow moisture to accumulate inside the container. Just as we mentioned above, humidity equals mold, and that's not good.
To keep moisture build-up at bay, open the vanilla beans' container for 10 to 15 minutes every few weeks. This will allow enough air to circulate without over-drying the beans.
How to Revive Dried Vanilla Beans
Mistakes were made, and for some reason, your vanilla beans dried much earlier than expected. Luckily, we do have a solution that'll help you bring them back to life!
Will the vanilla beans be suitable for storage after using this method? Not really; it's best to use them right away. Will they regain their flavor? Yes, but it'll most likely have a more delicate vanilla flavor than before.
All you have to do is fill a shallow bowl halfway with warm liquid, either water or milk; make sure it's not boiling. Then, soak the beans in it, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it for a few hours or overnight if you have the time. This should help them rehydrate and restore flexibility.
Why Are There Crystals on My Vanilla Beans?
If you saw tiny white crystals on your vanilla beans, you're one of the lucky ones. These are known as vanillin crystals, and they signify that these vanilla pods were cultivated and cured to perfection.
Vanillin is a naturally occurring compound in vanilla beans that contributes to their unique flavor and aroma. It collects in the form of crystals in low-moisture conditions when it's present at a much higher rate than normal. And more vanillin translates to an insane burst of flavor!
Some people confuse vanillin crystals with mold, so make sure you know the difference. Mold appears as a powder or feathery-like substance with varying shades of white, green, and black.
The more you protect vanilla beans from air and moisture, the longer they'll last to elevate your culinary creations.
Remember, the quality of the beans and where they come from also matter. If they don't meet standards or the supplier mishandles their storage, their essence will be less potent, and they'll dry out faster.
Vanilla Bean Kings has perfected the craft of cultivating and storing premium-grade vanilla beans for nearly a decade. Browse our selection today, and we'll deliver your order right to your doorstep!