Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad? How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last?

Does vanilla extract go bad? If you are into baking, then you would have asked this question at some point in time.

Vanilla extract is one of the essential ingredients when it comes to baking or flavoring several dishes. It is an extract made from vanilla beans.

There are two basic kinds of vanilla extract, namely, pure and imitation extract. The reason for creating the imitation vanilla extract is due to high-priced pure vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract also comes with a best-by date, after which the quality can start to decrease. It can also be unsafe for consumption.

If you want to know all about vanilla extract such as shelf life or how to tell if it has gone bad, then this guide is entirely for you.  

How Long Does Vanilla Extract Last? Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad?

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The shelf life marks the distinction between imitation and pure vanilla extract. There are some essential things that you should know when talking about these two types of vanilla extracts. 

Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol base, and it is more expensive. Imitation vanilla extract is cheap and consists of fewer flavors than the pure vanilla extract. 

For pure vanilla extract, the shelf life is indefinite and can easily last for many years. The reason is that pure vanilla extract has high alcohol content.

No doubt, some of these products have the label best-by date, but it is chiefly due to legal proceedings. The bottom line is pure vanilla extract will be suitable for use and consumption even after way past the use-by date.

The imitation vanilla extract comes with the label of use-by date, and its shelf life can range between six to twelve months. If you stored it properly, then you can still use it for some months after passing the use-by date.

However, the quality will significantly degrade over time. As such, there is no point in storing imitation vanilla extract for a more extended period.

The following table presents the shelf life of vanilla extract:

Vanilla Extract

Shelf Life

Pure Vanilla Extract (Opened and Unopened)

Stays Indefinitely

Imitation Vanilla Extract (Opened and Unopened)

Use-by + 6-12 months

How to Tell If Vanilla Extract Is Bad? Vanilla Extract Shelf Life!

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You should note that vanilla extract, when improperly stored, can lead to spoilage, thereby making it unfit for use or consumption. But how to tell if vanilla extract has spoilt?

One of the ways to tell if vanilla extract has spoilt is by looking for unwanted growth inside the cap. You can also use your sense of smell to check for any bad odor before using it, especially if you have not used it for a very long time.

Nevertheless, you should note that the smell and taste of pure vanilla extract are quite different from imitation vanilla extract. As such, you should be careful, especially when switching to pure vanilla extract after continuously using imitation vanilla extract, and vice versa.

Another way is to check the quality of the vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla extract usually degrades its quality when stored for a longer time. It means that there will be no flavor after a specific period. If it happens, then you should consider purchasing a new bottle of vanilla extract.

The following signs indicate that the vanilla extract is unusable:

  • One of the most common signs that indicate unusable vanilla extract is an unpleasant smell.
  • Another sign relates to the consistency of the liquid. If you notice any changes with the consistency of the liquid, then you should discard it.
  • Flavor of the liquid is another sign that can indicate unusable vanilla extract. But, you should be careful as the flavors of pure vanilla extract are different from imitation vanilla extract.

Conclusion

In conclusion, vanilla extract will not go bad as long as you store it properly in a dark and cool place. However, imitation vanilla extract tends to lose its quality and flavor when stored for a longer period. Hence, you should use it within 6-12 months after the use-by date.

When it comes to pure vanilla extract, it can last for many years as it has an alcohol base. However, you should never keep the bottle unsealed as it can reduce usability.

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