You can store the unopened vanilla essence at room temperature for three years. Once opened, use it before the end of the year. Pure vanilla essence can last about two years at room temperature.
To know in detail the proper way to preserve the essence of vanilla, continue reading.
How to store vanilla extract
There are several types of vanilla essences; the most common and easy to buy is the artificial essence with the characteristic vanilla smell, which does not cost much money and usually comes in plastic bottles.
There is also the essence of pure vanilla, which has a more alcoholic smell and offers a much more robust flavor; obviously, it usually costs a little more.
Vanilla essence can also come in powder or more concentrated liquid paste form. All vanilla essences are preserved similarly: in a dark, dry, and cool place at room temperature.
If you do not open the artificial vanilla essences (liquid, powder, or paste), they last about three years at room temperature. Once open, they will remain for a whole year. 
While you can keep pure vanilla essence for two years if the bottle is still sealed; otherwise, it is reduced to one year after opening. 
Although you can technically maintain pure vanilla essence indefinitely thanks to alcohol, storage conditions must be ideal (at a temperature between 15°(59°F) and 21°C(70°F)) and remain mostly sealed.
In the case of artificial vanilla, over time, it loses potency, so little by little, it will stop providing flavor. In addition, vanilla essence powder should always be in an airtight container or bag once you open the packaging where it came from.
It is not recommended to store vanilla essences in the refrigerator or near other products emitting a strong odor.
If you wonder: can I store vanilla essence in the freezer? The answer is no since freezing would completely ruin its flavor, which is the only purpose of this extract.
How to preserve vanilla pods
Natural vanilla comes in the form of brown pods, whose seeds provide all the flavor we usually enjoy. To preserve them, I advise you to do the following:
- Step 1: Put the vanilla pods in a glass jar.
If you bought many, the best way to keep the vanilla pods is inside a glass container; if the glass is dark, it is much better. You could also use an airtight bag.
- Step 2: Write the storage date of the vanilla pods.
Write the date of purchase of the vanilla pods on a label and then attach it to the glass jar. If not, you can use a marker and write the date on the bag or container.
- Step 3: Store the vanilla pods at room temperature.
Find a place in your pantry that stays dark, very cool, and free of moisture. This way, the vanilla pods will remain at room temperature for a year or two.
Note: you must air the vanilla pods every six months or every four months in hot places to avoid moisture development inside the container. You must take them out for 15 minutes, where the sun does not hit, and then put them back away.
I also do not recommend storing vanilla pods in the fridge or freezer. In the refrigerator, they risk absorbing moisture and the smell of other foods, and the freezer, after thawing, would be wet, in addition to losing its flavor.
How to prepare and preserve homemade vanilla essence
You can prepare vanilla essence at home with vanilla pods and alcohol. Regarding the latter, you can use vodka since it has a neutral flavor, but you can also serve rum or bourbon.
You will also need a glass jar or bottle with a screw cap or airtight lid. I do not advise you to use corks because then the essence of homemade vanilla would evaporate quickly.
To make homemade vanilla essence, you have to follow these steps:
- Step 1: Sterilize the glass jar or bottle.
Pour the jar or bottle with its respective lid into a pot with hot water and let it boil for 10 minutes, then remove the container with tweezers and place it on a rack or a dry and clean cloth. Please wait for it to dry completely before proceeding with the next steps.
- Step 2: Chop the pods in half.
With a sharp-tipped knife, cut the vanilla lengthwise to separate it in two and gain access to the seeds.
- Step 3: Extract the vanilla seeds.
With the back of the knife or a spoon, scrape both sides of the vanilla pod to extract all the seeds and throw them into the dry glass container.
For every 250 milliliters of alcohol, it is advisable to use four vanilla pods. You can also put the pods inside the bottle.
- Step 4: Add the alcohol.
Add the alcohol of your choice to cover the vanilla pods completely. These can be folded and chopped if you do not have much alcohol and the pods are very long. Finally, cover the container well.
- Step 5: Place a label with the date of preparation.
Write the date of preparation of the homemade vanilla essence on a label and then attach it to the container.
- Step 6: Store homemade vanilla essence at room temperature.
You must place the jar in a dark place where it does not directly hit heat or light. Before use, let it macerate for at least a month so that the alcohol is thoroughly impregnated with the essence of vanilla.
If you keep the jar with homemade vanilla essence in the same place and well covered, it can be between one and two years at room temperature. I also do not recommend refrigerating or freezing.
How do we know if vanilla essence got bad?
Whether pure or artificial, it is difficult for vanilla essence to spoil, but possible. So, if your vanilla essence has a strange smell or no longer has an odor, it is because the shelf life is over.
Using vanilla essence contaminated with another product is also not advisable since its flavor could be affected. Besides, if the taste generated in the recipes is terrible, it is time to discard it.
If you ever notice mold in the jar or pod pods, get rid of them. In the first case, it is almost impossible to happen, but if it does, it means you did not store it well.
How long does vanilla essence last?
|Artificial vanilla essence at room temperature (unopened)||3 years|
|Artificial vanilla essence at room temperature (open)||1 year|
|Pure vanilla extract at room temperature (unopened)||2 years|
|Pure vanilla extract at room temperature (open)||1 year|
|Vanilla pods at room temperature||1 – 2 years|
|Homemade vanilla extract at room temperature||1 – 2 years|
What is the best way to store vanilla extract?
For all versions of vanilla essence, there is no better way to preserve them than to keep them in a place away from the light that is cool and stays dark.
Whether artificial or pure vanilla essence or homemade, they all keep very well at room temperature, just like vanilla pods.
It is not advisable to store the vanilla essence or pods inside the refrigerator or freezer since, unlike other foods or products, they run the risk of decomposing faster in the cold.
If you are interested in learning how to preserve another product, remember I have a long list of related topics, starting with the following: