What Is the Shelf Life of Flavoring Extracts?

published May 7, 2010
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Q: How long do flavoring extracts last in the cupboard? I have several bottles of extract (vanilla, rum, maple and lemon) that are quite old and I wonder if they are still usuable. The alcohol evaporated from the peppermint extract. Can I add more alcohol to the bottle and reconstitute the residue? (Guess who is frugal?) I did pitch the Mexican vanilla because of questionable orgin.

Sent by Lona

Editor: Lona, most flavoring extracts are quite volatile and, as you discovered with the peppermint flavoring, can evaporate. We looked at the storage recommendations from several flavoring manufacturers and they say that extracts tend to have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. The exception to this is pure vanilla extract which, if stored in a cool dark place and tightly sealed, can last indefinitely and even improve with age.

Readers, what has your experience been with storing flavoring extracts? How long do you keep them? Do you think that Lona can reconstitute her peppermint flavoring?

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