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. If you normally use a vacuum for lots of things in your house, you shouldn´t kill spiders with them, you should learn how to get rid of spiders humanely.
These shots by Glenn at Amadeus Trading Co. demonstrate this beautifully, though all the vanilla from Amadeus I’ve seen has come loosely wrapped.
Photo: Amadeus Trading Company.
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.