You just received your vanilla beans and used one the next day, then you are wondering how to store the rest vanilla beans. Or, you received vanilla beans as a gift and were thinking to use it in couple of months for the Fall, but will they last till then?
This post will help you to take care your precious vanilla and guide you in storing them properly.
Vanilla beans can last anywhere from six months to two years without losing potency when stored properly. While perfectly safe and usable, the quality in aroma, flavor and pod texture would normally diminish after a year.
You want to avoid air and moisture when storing your vanilla beans.
- Wrap the beans up in wax paper after you remove them from their packaging.
- Store them in an airtight/vacuum-sealed bag or container, ensuring you get as much air out as possible. We find the reusable vacuum-sealed bag is great for storing vanilla beans. However, Tupperware is pretty good too.
- Store your vanilla in a cool, dark place like a basement, pantry or cupboard. Do NOT put them in the fridge, it will speed the drying process and trigger molds.
Vanilla is generally pretty fussy plant. When growing them, the orchid plant requires enough sun and enough rain to survive. And, as pods/beans, vanilla would like not too hot and not too cold temperature. Beans are most comfortable when the temperature ranges from 60 degrees F (15.5 C) to 85 degrees F (29 C). Excessive heat or cold will dry out the pods, sucking all the goodness and flavor out of the seeds.
CARING FOR VANILLA BEANS
When not used right away, you should remove your beans from their container and let them “breathe” once every six weeks since USA is relatively cooler. In Indonesia, we are airing the vanilla bean closer to every three to four weeks due to hot and relatively humid weather. We dont want them to "sweat", because sweating will produce mold. Open the container, remove them from their wrap and allow both to “breathe” for 15 minutes, away from direct sunlight. Rewrap the beans and put them back in their cool, dark place.
WHITE SUBSTANCES ON THE PODS
There are some white stuff on the pods, what are those? Our vanilla may develop small white crystals, most likely on the corner of the pods. They are not mold. They are vanillin crystal due to higher vanillin content.
However, if the white substance is fussy-looking, smelling bad and having powder residue all over the beans or packaging, then it is mold. But don’t panic. If the mold only cover small area of the pods, you can still salvage the beans. Take out the suspected moldy beans from the healthy ones. Wipe the moldy ones with a damp cloth or paper towel that has been submerged with high-proof alcohol. Allow them to dry completely and then store them separately from the unaffected beans. If the mold reappears, or has permeated the bean’s surface and is growing inside the pod, then you should throw them out.
RESTORING DRY VANILLA BEANS
Yes, you can rehydrate dried vanilla beans. Simply put them in warm milk or water for couple of hours before you use them.
You can also use dry beans to make delicious homemade vanilla extract as the alcohol will rehydrate them, the longer you brew them the better. Or, you can always grind them with your coffee beans in your coffee grinder.
WHAT TO DO WITH EMPTY PODS
Once you scraped all those seeds or vanilla caviar, you can cut the empty pods into pieces and submerge them into the sugar (Homemade vanilla sugar recipe), salt or coffee even coconut oil. It will infuse the medium with a delicate vanilla flavor. Oh yum...