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Help! Will I poison everyone with my vanilla?

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I'm making a spiced syrup to soak fruit, and I need to use a vanilla bean. I have a few in a bottle that I've kept for a few years ( I think! It's been in there forever! ). While we were moving - hmmmm...maybe that's 3 years now....- I stuck the beans in an old water bottle ( that I washed out ) put in some vodka and laid it on it's side so the beans were covered - I must not have had enough vodka to cover them. Well it worked it's way to the back of the cabinet and eventually got placed upright, so the beans are standing in an inch of vodka.
I was about to throw one into the simple syrup ( they smell fine and extracty and are very moist ) but then I thought I might have fostered some horrible bacteria in the bottle after so long.

Anyone have any experience with this? I really don't want to poison our friends tomorrow, it could really ruin the game!
Any thoughts appreciated, especially from health department employees or Harold McGee!

Thanks!

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  1. I think if they're in vodka not much would be able to grow in there. I think you're probably fine....

    1. You should be fine. Yeasts and molds are your only concerns really. And the beans were probably dry and the alcohol would've inhibited bacteria.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bryn

        Thank you! That's kind of what I thought but I needed a little back up. To be on the safe side, I'm going to try it tonight.....what I don't do for my guests!