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Apr 9, 2009 01:45 PM

Question about vanilla extract

So I need to buy some- I notice the McCormick brand (the real stuff, not imitation, of course!) comes in the two sizes- the smaller was on sale- but then I saw a couple other brands- in large bottles, so costs more- but per ounce price is waaay less- does it go bad? False economy to buy 8 oz instead of 1 or 2? I usually just use it in cookies, so it lasts in my cupboard quite awhile...

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  1. vanilla extract won't spoil (it's made by soaking the beans in alcohol, which is a natural preservative), but it will begin to lose some of its vanilla potency/aroma after about a year, and may end up too redolent of alcohol. store it in a cool, dry, place away from light (NOT in the fridge!), and if you're not going to use it within a year or so, stick to the smaller bottles.

    1. I buy big, but I use it quite a bit. But as below with goodhealth, yes, about 1 year. Mine has been almost 2 and still ok. But normally I would toss.

      One of my main uses ... ice cream. OK, I cheat. I buy premade good quality ice cream let soften and then add extra vanilla, heath toffee bars crunched up, nuts or sometimes, some coffee, strong, extra vanilla and cookies crunched up. It is a great way to make average ice cream ... not average. It can be a lot of fun and you can be very creative with cookies, gingersnaps are great, candy bars, crunched up ANYTHING sweet, chocolate wafer are great with peanut brittle. I hate paying for expensive ice cream so I make it myself and most people love it. Pistachios, mint and chocolate ice cream with chocolate wafers.

      Vanilla I use all the time and is a lot of fun to add to a lot of dishes. Risotta, sweet soups, deserts galore Enjoy and buy BIG!!

      1. Followong an article in our newspaper last September, I've been using Nielssen-Massey vanilla, and the flavor is amazing! Since it's quite a bit more expensive than others, I typically linit it to recipes where the vanilla isn't cooked to death (ie marshmallows and caramels).

        They also make a product--which I haven't tried--called vanilla paste--that replaces vanilla beans, seeds included.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mamaciita

          i haven't tried their paste, but i use their liquid extract and occasionally their vanilla powder. i'm a big N-M fan.

        2. Cooks Illustrated rates McCormick #1, and it certainly doesn't go bad but, as others have said, you don't want to buy a size larger than you can use before it loses its potency. I just bought two 4 oz. bottles of it on for $18.03, and it works out *far* cheaper than buying those same two bottles in the supermarket. Why, I don't know.

          I used to buy the N-M stuff, but I'm back to McCormick for now.

          Make your choice, and make sure the per ounce price for the size you buy IS the lowest per ounce price overall. It's not always the largest one.