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Storage of vanilla beans?

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Hi! (My virgin post on Chowhound, so please don't be too rough on me!)

I am considering buying a pound worth of vanilla beans (to save on cost vs buying single beans) to make some vanilla extract with... however, I know I won't use that much all at once to make the stuff I will use. Just wondering if anyone can tell me the best way to store the excess beans until I can cook more goodies with them? (Temperature, dark or no, type of container, anything added to the beans to keep them fresh, how long they might keep for, anything helps!)

Thanks in advance from a newb :)
Adie

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  1. I've been working on a lb of beans for about a year now. I keep them in a handi-vac vacuum bag (Reynolds makes the handi-vacs) and re-vacuum seal them after I take out what I need. They're stored at room temp in my spice cabinet. Still soft, sticky and fragrant after nearly a year of storing them this way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: morwen

      That's how I keep my lb of beans. No degradation noted over the last year.

    2. I think morwen has the right idea. Like just about all dried foods, a dark, somewhat cool, airtight place will be the best option. Don't forget there's also opportunity to store a bean or 2 in a large jar of sugar = vanilla sugar.

      5 Replies
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        That's where my empty pods go after scraping.

        1. re: HaagenDazs

          You can also stick them -- the empty pods, that is -- in a small bottle of rum or vodka and let them steep into vanilla extract. Takes next to forever but who's in a rush? I also stick in a few whole coffee beans to give it another flavor note.

          1. re: rainey

            The "next to forever" part can be partially eliminated by using something stronger than simply rum or vodka, something in the 190 proof range.

          2. re: HaagenDazs

            Works with honey too! Warm the honey just a little, pour it into a jar and drop a couple of split beans or used pods in there. You can do the same with cinnamon sticks.

            1. re: morwen

              Interesting, I hadn't thought of that before, thanks!

          3. I would store them in glass or something that doesn't breath. I had a bunch of vanilla beans in plastic bags for the past year or so and a couple of them went all brittle.

            1. I bought a 1/2 lb a few months ago (actually from e-bay - it was mentioned on a different thread, otherwise I never would have thought to look there - from a seller called Vanilla Products USA). I have been keeping them in their original bag and then in two additional ziploc freezer bags at room temp in my pantry. The package suggested 3 layers of plastic bags. So far they are just about as good as new, although there are not too many left. I would definitely encourage you to buy the pound (or half pound) since they are SO much cheaper. I love having beans around and not feeling like they are so precious that I cannot use them.

              1. Some friends and I ordered a couple varieties and split the large order. I put 6 or so beans in bags and vacuum sealed them so that when we opened a package we only had to store a few at a time.

                I'll do the same when we reorder, but it seems to me that the Reynolds ziplock bags with the vacuum seal would be just the thing for a small number of beans. Each time you open the ziplock to take a bean you could recreate the vacuum to protect the remaining unused ones.

                Those bags can fail over time, tho, so I'd still use the heavier duty vacuum sealer for the long term storage. I still have packages that are almost a year old and still looking good.

                1. I keep mine in an air tight French canning jar, I do the same in the shop. They last much longer with that rubber gasket sealing out air. I have revived brittle dried out beans by putting them in the air tight jar with a sprinkling of water. They came back nice and soft ad ready to go.

                  We carry an organic fair trade bean in the shop. They come in sealed plastic envelopes and dry out faster than you can imagine. I started puttting them in the air-tight jars, in the original celophane envelopes and they last indefinetely.

                  1. Got some beans from to a relative that went to Tahiti, makes extract in about 3 months,when added to good grade rum or vodka of a higher alcohol content.

                    1. I did the same thing you are planning to do on the extract front--it works great. I store mine wrapped in plastic wrap then foil inside a tall cylindrical canning jar with a rubber gasket and a flp top lid. They are still nice and moist after almost a year.

                      I bought mine here:

                      http://stores.ebay.com/The-Organic-Va...