Shelf life of vanilla extract?

“Cheryl” writes: what is the shelf life of vanilla extract? How long does vanilla extract last, and when does vanilla extract expire?

Like fine wine, real vanilla extract will mature with age and continue to improve over time. Some say indefinitely. In general, because it is a form of liqueur, vanilla extract should last “forever”.

Frequently asked vanilla questions.
Vanilla information.
Vanilla extract tutorial and recipe.

14 Responses to “Shelf life of vanilla extract?”

  1. Emily says:

    so does vanilla extract expire because I have vanilla extract and it has been in my pantrey for some years now… is it still good?

  2. ian says:

    Yes, it is fine.

  3. rhonda says:

    YAY! I have some very good pure vanillia.. so happy to hear this!

  4. Vi says:

    I have some pure vanilla (or it says is it) from Mexico that I have had for several years. Is it still good?

  5. sophie says:

    found vanilla in cabinet name brand spice classics dist by han-dee pak inc
    hunt valley md 21031 must be al least 30 yrs old is it still good .


  6. Nathan says:

    Vi, I have pure vanilla from Mexico that is at least 5 years old and just used it the other day. The flavor is great. No one got sick! haha

  7. Katie Jones says:

    There is no such thing as “pure” vanilla from Mexico. I found this on the Niielsen Massey website: “Mexico has no truth in labeling regulations or any organization like our FDA. Many times the vanilla will contain artificial flavors or enhancers, such as Coumarin, which is carcinogenic product that has been outlawed by the FDA for the last 30 to 40 years. If manufactured correctly, under the proper guidelines, it is considered to be a high quality vanilla.”

  8. sharon collins says:

    I have white vanilla from mexico that has brown sediment in it. Is it still good? Have had for several years.

  9. Judy says:

    I just tasted a bottle of Pure Vanilla I purchased back in 2004 in Mexico. I bought 3 bottles and one was opened as I have been using it. I “taste tested” the open bottle to see if it was still good and compared it to a bottle of Pure Vanilla I bought in the grocery store recently……..forgetting I had vanilla from a while back. The store bought vanilla is a stronger flavor and I can taste the alcohol in it while the pure vanilla from Mexico is much milder in taste. Can this vanilla from Mexico (two sealed unopened bottles still be good)?

  10. ian says:

    @Judy & Sharon – Of course it is still good. Vanilla is like wine and doesn’t go bad (within reason). It is probably a different type of vanilla, maybe without sugar to deaden the alcohol flavor. If it was cheap Mexican vanilla there is also the possibility it isn’t real vanilla.

  11. Marie says:

    I was making rice pudding the other day and after about what seemed like 1 hr it was perfect…..directions then called to add vanilla extract and mix into pudding before pouring into serving dishes ….within 1 minute of adding vanilla it all curdled and water was separated from eggs…. If vanilla doesn’t go bad, then what happened????

  12. Jack says:

    Marie, that curdling was most likely the result of overcooking the pudding. Excessive heat or cooking for too long can cause the egg proteins to overcoagulate resulting in curdling. Even assuming that you somehow used bad extract, that wouldn’t affect the texture of the pudding, only its flavour.

  13. Jillian says:

    The place to buy large quantities of vanilla beans for cheap is beanilla. They sell vanilla beans of many different types, I buy them at about 50 cents a bean they sell more and less expensive ones then that. I use it to make lots of vanilla beans for making extract for gifts, have used the same for 2 years with no ill effects.

  14. Susan says:

    Hi I bought some vanilla essence from abroad years ago it is unopened is it still ok to use, am making a child’s birthday cake and want to make sure it is ok to use. Sue.