You’re acquiring ready for your next large baking project and also are making sure you have all the ingredients on hand. In the cupboard, you discover a half-opened bottle of vanilla extract sitting there because that who-knows-how-long. The concern that pops up automatically is: walk vanilla extract go bad?

Fortunately, both pure and also artificial vanilla extracts critical a lengthy time, therefore most most likely the extract you have actually is perfect fine.

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If you would favor to find out a bit around storage, shelf life, and differences in between pure vanilla extract and also the imitation, check out on.

(credit: Mike Mozart)

How To keep Vanilla Extract

The method you store vanilla extract is the same for both pure extract and also the imitation.

You need to keep that in a cool and also dark ar (light can affect it), away from resources of heat. The pantry or a kitchen cupboard away indigenous the oven space the best options.


Do not refrigerate or frozen the extract together low temperatures can damage it.

If you’ve to buy the extract in a plastic bottle, feel totally free to decant it right into a glass bottle or jug if you will. As usual when it comes to liquids, make sure the extract is sealed tightly once not in use.

Making homemade vanilla extract (credit: Brian Boucheron)

How long Does Vanilla Extract Last

Shelf life is where the difference in between pure vanilla extract and the imitation is quite pronounced.

Let’s start with pure vanilla extract. It’s basic to identify it indigenous the imitation, as it has the indigenous “pure” top top the label and the imitation doesn’t. Also, the pure extract is much an ext expensive 보다 the imitation.

Pure vanilla extract has an unknown shelf life and doesn’t yes, really go bad. Please keep in mind that the extract has an alcohol base, and alcohol tends to very slowly evaporate after ~ the an initial opening that the bottle. That way that after ~ a few years girlfriend might an alert that the smell of the extract is slightly more intense.

In short, if friend bought a bottle of McCormick or Nielsen Massey (or any type of other dependable brand for that matter) pure vanilla extract a year back or 10 years ago, it have to be perfect fine now.

Now to the imitation vanilla extract. Besides the fact that it has less flavor than the actual deal, that doesn’t save that well. If stored properly, that shouldn’t go bad, but its top quality will degrade end time. Examine out the best-by date on the label, which shows for exactly how long the quality must remain best.

You can easily include a few months or a year to the period, yet you have to remember that the much longer you keep it, the worse the taste will certainly be.

Pure vanilla extract (unopened or opened)Stays well indefinitely
Imitation vanilla extract (unopened or opened)Best-by + 6 – 12 months

Please note that the duration for vanilla extract imitation is for finest quality only.

Image offered under an innovative Commons indigenous ginnerobot

How come Tell If Vanilla Extract Is Bad

As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you constantly keep the party of vanilla extract sealed tightly, that shouldn’t go bad. That’s true for both the pure extract and the imitation.

However, if you ever notification that there’s other wrong v the extract, prefer the smell is turn off or there is some development on the within of the cap, throw it away. Again, it’s unlikely to happen, but it’s always great to quickly inspect the extract prior to using. Especially if friend haven’t used in a long time.

When it involves the imitation, ~ a couple of years of storage its quality will degrade. That method that in ~ a particular point the smell won’t rather be there. Once that happens, it’s time to throw the extract away and buy or open up a new bottle.

Homemade vanilla extract in the do (credit: Brian Boucheron)

Vanilla Extract FAQ

What’s the difference in between pure vanilla extract and the imitation?

The most important difference between pure vanilla extract and the imitation is the means the extract is produced. Pure vanilla extract is made through vanilla beans. It’s brown in color and that shade comes from vital oils.


If you have vanilla beans on hand and some vodka, friend can conveniently make your very own pure vanilla extract.

The major flavor compound in the extract is vanillin, yet the pure extract consists of hundreds of other flavor compounds that make the pure extract so wealthy in taste.

The imitation vanilla extract contains only the most an important flavor compound: vanillin. And that vanillin isn’t the one that normally occurs in the bean, yet it’s a synthetic substance do in a lab. Due to the fact that it only contains one the the compounds, the taste doesn’t come close come the flavor of the “real deal.”

Of course, over there are factors why the imitation to be created, and the most essential one is the price. Vanilla beans are really expensive, so is the pure extract. Synthetic vanilla is much cheaper and also offers a good-enough taste. due to the fact that of that, most people buy the less expensive one due to the fact that it quiet does its project pretty fine in cakes, cookies, and also frostings.

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If you’d like to read more about differences between the pure extract and the imitation, examine out this article.