Do you know how to tell if vanilla extract has gone bad? Have you ever wondered if your jar of vanilla extract is still potent enough for baking or cooking? If so, read on!
Vanilla extract is a staple in many kitchens.
Vanilla is used for its sweet flavor and aroma. It has been around for centuries and is now one of the most popular flavors.
What is vanilla extract, and where does it come from?
Vanilla extract comes from vanilla beans, which can be harvested from real vanilla orchid flowers.
The vanilla bean has been cultivated for centuries in Mexico and Madagascar, with most of the world’s commercial production coming from Madagascar today.
Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world per unit weight, mostly due to labor costs.
The vanilla pods are picked and then sun-dried for several days.
After that, the beans are split open, scraped, and soaked in alcohol for an aging process.
Vanilla beans are also used to create a vanilla sauce used in cooking and baking.
The difference between imitation vanilla extract and pure vanilla extracts
Pure and true vanilla extract is produced from split vanilla beans using a steeping process, while imitation extract is created by flavoring manufacturers using additives such as vanillin.
The flavor of pure extracts comes from natural ingredients.
Another important difference is the price.
While vanilla extract is expensive, artificial vanilla extract is considerably cheaper.
Most people choose the cheapest option, which is quite convenient for baking cakes and cookies at home.
Both types of extract can be found at most supermarkets or your local grocery store.
The benefits of using pure vanilla extract in cooking and baking
When cooking with pure vanilla extract, the true essence of the bean makes its way into even the most straightforward recipe.
Vanilla extract is made by macerating vanilla beans in an alcohol solution. The stronger the flavor, the more definition will be to your finished product.
Like many other ingredients, pure vanilla extract comes in varying grades depending on its quality.
There are different types of vanilla extract.
You can find high-end brands that have richer flavor, potent aroma, and high quality but may have a steep price tag.
There are also more economical brands that tend to be watered down, lighter in color, and less flavor, but still provide a wonderful vanilla aroma for your recipes.
How to use vanilla extract
Vanilla extract is one of the most common ingredients used in baking.
To use it, all you need to do is just add a teaspoon of this brown vanilla extract into the recipe that you are following for baking cookies, cakes, or muffins.
Here are some ideas if you want to add some of vanilla extract to your food
- First of all, pour a teaspoon or 2 of the vanilla extract into your recipe. This will give a unique taste to your baked goods.
- If you have ice cream, this would be a perfect addition.
- Adding vanilla extract in recipes is an easy and quick way to improve the tastes and flavors of your baked goods, such as cakes and cookies. Since the vanilla extract is very tasty, you may want to try it on your homemade drinks as well.
- If you like something sweet but do not want to consume too many calories, consider adding some vanilla extract to your food, such as ice creams or cupcakes.
- You can also use some vanilla extract on your favorite drinks such as coffee, smoothies, or your favorite milkshake.
- Add some vanilla extract to your lemonade to make it more creamy.
- Try adding the vanilla extract to your fruit salad if you want to give it a wonderful scent and taste that is different from what you are used to.
- If you have a cake that has been sitting in the fridge for several days, try adding some vanilla extract to it. This will make your cake moist and flavorful.
- Using vanilla extract is also a great way to quickly flavor up the oatmeal and add a pleasant aroma.
- If you want to make some special pancakes for breakfast using cake mixes, simply add some vanilla extract to it. This will instantly improve the taste of your pancakes without having to waste time cooking from scratch.
- You can also use vanilla extract for making homemade pudding by using instant pudding that you can buy at the supermarket. Adding vanilla extract to your favorite deserts is a great way to make them more delicious and flavorful.
- There are also plenty of recipes that use vanilla extract as the main ingredient. Such recipes include cookies, cakes, and bread. You can find a bunch of different recipes by doing a simple search on the internet.
How to make vanilla extract at home
To prepare vanilla extract at home, take one cup of vodka and put in six to eight vanilla beans with the seeds scraped inside.
Then, just let the mixture sit for two weeks. You can check on it to see if you like your vanilla flavor stronger or weaker by tasting it every few days.
Once it’s to your liking, strain the liquid with a coffee filter and store it in a glass bottle away from direct sunlight at room temperature.
This homemade vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf life.
How to store the vanilla extract
The main goal of storing vanilla extract for future use is to prevent spoilage and protect against contamination.
Let’s see some storage recommendations.
The best way to preserve the extract for the long term is to simply store it in a cool dark place, like your kitchen cupboard or any kitchen cabinet.
This includes storing it at room temperature or putting it in the refrigerator, both of which work well for storage.
It is recommended to store the vanilla extract in a dark bottle, preferably airtight.
Also, put it in a cool place away from sources of heat and light to avoid contamination and to keep it for a longer period of time.
Does vanilla extract go bad?: How to tell if your vanilla extract has gone bad
The first thing you should do is check the expiration date on the bottle of vanilla extract.
If you suspect that your vanilla extract has gone bad, there are some warning signs and an easy way to tell.
One of the main signs that your extract is no longer good is a change in color and the smell test.
If your old vanilla extract smells or looks different than it used to be, or if you notice any unusual flavors, then it might be time to replace it and buy a new bottle.
Other signs of spoilage include mold inside of the cap.
If you’ve had the jar for a long time and don’t bake as often, it’s probably safe to use it six months to a year after opening.
Keep in mind that it will also lose intensity in flavor. So, a vanilla extract stored for a long time, will not have the same flavor as freshly opened.