Vacuum packed vanilla beans will stay fresh for years, but I’ve often thought that the vacuum causes subtle changes in bean texture.
- Some vacuum packaging equipment exerts so much force on the beans that it draws moisture from the skin.
- Some “FoodSaver(tm)” type vacuum bags have a heavy texture imprinted on the plastic. These plastic ridges help the vacuum device draw out every last bit of air, but they also leave a pattern on the beans. Vendor Beanilla reports that they recently stopped using textured bags for this reason.
I think it’s not just “moisture,” but a combination of water moisture plus vanilla oils that are being drawn out. Otherwise, the residue would not have that brownish tinge. When these beans were packed, we were using a fairly cheap vacuum-sealer — like the kind one would use in a home kitchen. We have stopped vacuum-sealing our smaller orders just because we didn’t like the look you show in the picture.
There are commercial-model vacuum sealers that will do a better job.
We just decided, on balance, vacuum-sealing isn’t necessary, as gourmet beans should last at least six months to a year (many times longer) if stored properly. Exraction-grade beans will last essentially indefinitely.
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