Vanilla beans are a great item to keep on hand. Many sweet recipes call for them but beyond that, you can use them to make your own vanilla at home. You might be surprised to know all of the different uses for a vanilla bean.
How do you preserve your vanilla beans? Can you freeze vanilla beans? How would you use vanilla beans once they have been frozen? These are all great questions and we will answer each of these throughout this article. In short, you can freeze vanilla beans, but it is not ideal. If you choose to freeze your vanilla beans, it is important you be very precise and aware of potential results.
Can You Freeze Vanilla Beans?
Vanilla beans are a unique tool. You don’t necessarily use them in your day-to-day cooking needs but they do have many uses, often not food-related.
When you purchase vanilla beans you typically buy a bulk amount that you won’t need to use all at one time.
No matter your reason for purchasing vanilla beans you still need to know what you can do with them and how you can best store them for future use. We’ll let you in on a little secret. The freezer is a great storage tool!
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about freezing vanilla beans.
Vanilla Beans Freezing Guide
If you haven’t made anything using vanilla beans, now is a great time to try some DIY projects – especially since you’re going to have all of the relevant information for storing vanilla beans.
There are some great options for using vanilla beans that you may not have any idea about. Additionally, if you are familiar with vanilla beans maybe you’ve tried all of these but you never know, maybe we can offer you a fresh idea!
Vanilla Bean Uses
Let’s discuss some of the optimal uses for vanilla beans in further detail.
- Homemade vanilla extract – you can make your own vanilla extract by steeping the bean in vodka. The recommended ratio is about 3-4 vanilla beans for every 1 cup of vodka.
Shake them together in a glass container and store it in a dark place that is remotely cool. You should store this for 2-3 months in order to produce vanilla extract.
- Potpourri – you can use the vanilla bean pods to make your own potpourri combination. Combine the pods with your choice of other smell-good items.
- Soaps and bath products – soap and bath products can be made using the bean. It adds a delicate vanilla scent that is quite calming and always smells great. Vanilla is one of the most popular scented items.
- Flavored coffees and drinks – You can grind vanilla beans or their pods with your coffee beans to add a delicious vanilla flavor. You can also use the pods to stir tea or other drinks and this will add vanilla flavor as well.
About the Vanilla Bean
The vanilla bean is produced from the orchid plant. It grows much as a bean pod would. The orchids that produce vanilla are primarily grown in tropical locations such as Tahiti, Madagascar, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Vanilla beans do not go directly from the plant into distribution. They must be soaked, dried, and fermented in order to produce the flavor and aroma that we all love about them.
Freezing Vanilla Beans
Now that we have covered some of the basic background information about vanilla beans, let’s proceed to the topic at hand – storing and freezing vanilla beans.
While you can freeze vanilla beans, there are some very specific things you should be aware of when freezing. There are some potential issues you might face so we want to make you aware of these things.
We will also cover alternative storage options for your vanilla beans so that you can determine which method will work best for your needs and so you can be fully aware of your options and the pros and cons that go with them.
The Pros to Freezing Vanilla Beans
- A storage method to preserve the life of your vanilla beans
- The freezer preserves the natural smell and aroma of the vanilla beans
- Store your beans for approximately a year in the freezer
The Cons to Freezing Vanilla Beans
- Requires specific procedures
- Must be sealed absolutely airtight
- Must be removed from the packaging immediately when removed from the freezer
- Leaves the vanilla bean more susceptible to mold
- Could lose shelf life because of the risks
As you can see from the list above, freezing vanilla beans is really not an ideal option, but it is doable. We will walk you through the steps for freezing them so that if you choose to do so you will be set the best you can be to avoid the potential downsides involved.
If you feel like freezing your vanilla beans is still your best option, not to worry. We have the steps for you to get you going and the tips to have the best success on your freezing mission.
How to Freeze Vanilla Beans
If you want to give freezing your beans a try, here are the optimal steps for freezing your vanilla beans.
- Use a vacuum sealer or 2 freezer bags.
- Seal the vanilla beans until they are 100% airtight. A vacuum sealer does this most effectively but you can also use freezer bags and seal them tightly into one freezer bag and then seal tightly into a 2nd freezer bag
- Label and date your vanilla beans. If they are properly sealed, you can store them for up to 12 months.
- When you remove them from the freezer, immediately remove them from packaging and roll into tea towels or paper towels to prevent moisture build-up.
- Allow them to rest in the towel for 4-5 hours.*
- Remove from the towel and place them into a glass jar.
- Store in a cool, dark location (we recommend the back corner of your cabinets or pantry)
- Do not refreeze
*The purpose of the 4-5 hours of rest is to prevent your vanilla beans from molding. Any moisture held with the vanilla bean can lead to mold which will ultimately lead to the loss of your vanilla beans.
Alternative Storage Methods
Vanilla beans are relatively expensive to purchase. You certainly don’t want to risk the beans molding or losing their flavor and aroma due to improper storage means.
If you’re doubting your will to freeze the vanilla beans, we have solutions for you! These solutions are highly recommended in contrast with the option of freezing the vanilla beans. Because of the nature of the bean, freezing is ultimately not necessary in order to preserve the vanilla beans.
Glass Jar Storage
- Place your vanilla beans (and pods) in a glass jar. Be sure the jar is clean and dry.
- Place the jar in a dark, cool location. We recommend an area like the back corner of your cabinets or pantry.
- Store your vanilla beans up to 3 years.
Storage Bag or Container
- Place your vanilla beans (and pods) in a well-sealed plastic bag or an airtight container. Be sure the jar is clean and dry.
- Place the sealed vanilla beans in a dark, cool location. We recommend an area like the back corner of your cabinets or pantry.
- Store your vanilla beans up to 3 years.
- You can pull your vanilla beans out and stir them up and air them for about 10 minutes every 30-60 days to keep them fresh.
We hope that this guide has been informative to you and provided you with details not only for freezing vanilla beans but for alternative methods you may consider as well.
We invite you to review our question and answer section for additional information available.
What Makes Vanilla Beans Such an Expensive Commodity?
Vanilla beans may seem like something that really shouldn’t cost very much. You will notice that even vanilla extract can be quite pricy. The reason the costs are so high is because of what it takes to grow the vanilla beans.
Vanilla beans must undergo a specific pollination process in order to grow properly. This requires the orchid flower on which the beans grow to be pollinated at a specific time of day in which the flower is at bloom. The pollination occurs by hand and is extremely time-specific.
Do Vanilla Beans Go Bad?
Essentially, the answer to this question is no. The storage life of vanilla beans when stored in the freezer is much shorter than when stored by other means. However, vanilla beans can typically be expected to last for 3-5 years if they are stored properly.
The beans do not go bad, but they may lose some of the potency of their flavor and aroma the longer they are stored. Remember that if you do choose to store your vanilla beans in the freezer, you need to be mindful of the potential to mold.