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How to Store Vanilla Beans

Slofoodgroup Team August 15, 2020

7 Tips For Storing Vanilla Beans & Preserving Freshness & Flavor

Knowing how to store vanilla beans is essential in extracting the most flavor from them. Let’s face it, vanilla beans are not cheap (if you find any that are, they have likely been unethically sourced or are very poor in quality, but that’s a subject for another post). If you are going to spend good money on one of the world’s most prized ingredients, you probably want to make sure they last. That delicate aroma and flavor we all know and love can easily be lost if you aren’t careful. We wanted to ensure you are able to produce phenomenal vanilla creations with your vanilla beans, so we’ve provided some tips and tricks for storing your vanilla beans. 

Answers To Common Questions About Storing Whole Vanilla Beans.

After reading this post, you will be ready to make wonderful vanilla bean creations for several months to come!

What is the best way to store vanilla beans and keep them fresh? 

If you bought your vanilla beans from Slofoodgroup, they will come in a vacuum-sealed bag. We don’t recommend opening these bags until you are ready to use your beans. If you don’t use all of your vanilla beans right away, there are a few ways that you can store them to prolong freshness, but regardless of what option you choose, ensure the container you are keeping them in is airtight! 

Glass containers with tight-fitting lids or corks, double zipper bags (if you use a bag, try to squeeze as much air as possible out before sealing), or food sealers (this is best if you have one) are all great storage solutions. We recommend starting by wrapping your beans in wax paper for an extra layer of protection. Another great way to preserve the freshness of your vanilla beans is by enveloping them in sugar (still in an air-tight container). The sugar can help maintain the moisture level. Plus, you’ll be left with a highly aromatic and flavorful sugar for later use!

Once you’ve chosen a vessel for keeping your beans, you need to find the optimal place to keep that container. Vanilla beans are finicky, they don’t like to be kept too hot or too cold, preferring a temperature of right around 72℉. Find a place that is dry and free from direct sunlight. 

Should I refrigerate my vanilla beans?

The short answer to this question is, “NO!”  Never (ever) refrigerate your vanilla beans. Doing so will severely impact the quality of your beans and may actually make them unusable altogether. You see, when they are stored in the refrigerator, two things can happen. The air circulation and moisture levels will dry out the beans and provide the perfect environment for a particular type of mold that only grows on vanilla beans. 

How long will vanilla beans keep?

The shelf life of vanilla beans can vary greatly. Obviously, you will get a longer lifespan out of your beans by storing them properly but there are also other factors involved. The vanilla beans you can purchase in grocery stores are often already extremely dried out. The best thing to do is to find a reputable vendor with high-quality beans. The freshest beans will be pungent, moist, and oily and will come tightly sealed. This guide can help you in making your vanilla buying decision. 

When stored at the right temperature and moisture levels, out of direct sunlight, and with little to no air reaching the pods, you might even get a couple of years out of your vanilla beans, but most vanilla experts will tell you not to order more than you can use within six months. If you are growing concerned about the quality of your beans, use them to make homemade vanilla extract, which keeps indefinitely. Here’s an easy recipe for making vanilla extract from scratch. 


How often do I need to “air” my vanilla beans? 

While storing vanilla beans in air-tight containers is extremely important, it’s also critical to let them breathe every once in a while if you want to preserve their quality for a longer period of time. Unfortunately, there is solid answer to how often this should happen. Most purveyors will simply tell you it needs to happen “regularly”. We suggest airing your beans out every month or so and leaving them in the open air for about 10 minutes. 


Can I use my vanilla beans if they have dried out?

Yes! Obviously, we are providing the proper storage information for vanilla beans so that your beans don’t dry out. But, if they do, it isn’t a lost cause. You can rehydrate your beans when you are ready to use them by soaking them in a warm liquid. Depending on how dry your beans have gotten, the time for this can vary. A couple of hours should do the trick, though. 


What is the white stuff that formed on my vanilla beans? 

If your beans develop a white “frost” on the pods, DON’T THROW THEM OUT! It isn’t mold, as you may suspect; it’s vanillin crystals. Vanillin is the flavor compound that produces that aroma and taste you love so much! If those crystals have formed on the bean, it simply means that the vanillin has started migrating from the vanilla caviar to the outside of the pods as they have started to dry out. They are still completely safe to use and eat. In fact, they will have a very concentrated flavor!


Should I keep my vanilla pods after using the seeds? 

Absolutely. The vanilla flavor isn’t confined to the seeds alone. There is a ton of flavor and aroma in the pods, too! So what can you use those leftover pods for? You can place the used pods in a jar of alcohol and store it in a dark place for several months for a quick-and-easy homemade extract or flavored spirit, try one of these recipes for a flavorful vanilla sugar, place them in a pot of milk and simmer for a soothing beverage before you head to bed, or add them to the water when making simple syrup.

Whether you are looking for classic vanilla recipes or unique dishes containing our favorite flavor, you can find incredible recipes using vanilla beans on our blog.