Almond extract is a floral and nutty flavoring that we love having on hand in our baking cupboard. However, it is so strong that you only need to use a small amount at a time.
This means it will spend a lot of time in your cupboard. This will lead you to ask yourself: does almond extract go bad?
Almond extract can last three to four years at room temperature.
Certain ingredients tend to end up in the back corner of a cupboard, and you naturally forget about them. This is why it is essential to know when certain products, like almond extract, go bad.
In this article, we are going to figure out whether almond extract goes bad and how to store it to keep it fresh.
Let’s get into it.
How Are Extracts Made and Kept Fresh?
Extracts are liquid substances created by extracting part of a raw material using another substance like ethanol, water, or oil.
Since extracts do not feature any of the physical matter or moisture that is present in the raw material, this extends the shelf-life.
The liquid involved in the extraction process for almond extract is alcohol; this gives the flavoring a long-lasting base to infuse into. [*]
Alcohol has an unlimited shelf-life, so it extends the life of the almond oil that has been infused into it.
How Long Does Almond Extract Last? Does It Go Bad?
Almond extract can last three to four years if stored correctly.
We suggest buying small bottles as you will only use a small amount in your baking at a time. This applies to most extracts.
Since this lifespan is so long and varied, it is key that you know how to tell what fresh extract looks and tastes like. We suggest checking these three factors before every use.[*]
Good almond extract will be:
1. Strong, Sweet Aroma
Almond extract is an incredibly powerful product known for its strong scent.
When you open the bottle, it will smell strongly of almonds and be obvious even when you are not holding it directly up to your nose.
2. Distinctive Almond Flavor
The flavor will be just as strong as the smell.
The extract will taste of fragrant almonds with the slightest taste. A real extract will not taste sweet.
3. Clear Appearance
The extract will be a slightly golden hue, but it should be completely clear throughout the bottle.
How To Tell If Almond Extract Has Gone Bad?
So, now we are clear on what fresh almond extract can be like, we need to know when it eventually goes bad.
A bad almond extract will be:
1. Alcohol Scent
As it gets older, the extract will smell less of almonds and more strongly of alcohol.
The scent will hit you as soon as you open the bottle. If the almond scent has faded, then it needs to be discarded.
2. Weak Flavor
As extract ages, it will not taste bad, but it will taste less potent than when you first opened the bottle.
This means you may have to use more of it to have the right flavor impact in your baking.
On the other hand, if the bottle is not sealed correctly, the extract will evaporate and intensify the flavor.
3. Cloudy Appearance
Time may affect the clarity of the extract.
This can be due to bacteria or outside contaminants making their way into the bottle. If the extract is anything but crystal clear, then it must be thrown away.
What is the Best Way to Store Almond Extract?
Almond extract needs to be kept away from heat, direct sunlight, and moisture to ensure its shelf life.
We recommend leaving the extract in its original packaging and storing it in a cool dark cupboard. Ideally, it should be far away from the stove.
Since the base of this flavoring is alcohol, the top must be screwed on tightly after every use to prevent the extract from evaporating or getting contaminated.
Can expired almond extract make you sick?
In theory, if you consumed a large amount of bad almond extract, it would make you sick.
However, recipes only use a very small amount of extract, so this is very unlikely. The only difference will be that the extract is less flavorful.
Adding a little extra almond extract to make up for the faded flavor will be safe.
Can extracts go rancid?
Due to the alcohol base of extracts, it is very unlikely that they will go rancid.
This is due to the ratio of extracted material to alcohol in the extract.
Contaminants may make their way in if exposed to the air, but they are more likely to evaporate before becoming fully rancid.
Why does almond extract taste like Maraschino cherries?
This is down to a certain chemical called benzaldehyde.
This is a chemical that is present in both almonds and cherries, which is why their flavors are often mixed up with one another.
What is the difference between almond flavoring and almond extract?
As we have outlined above, almond extract is made when almond oil is combined with ethyl alcohol.
Almond flavoring, on the other hand, uses artificial flavoring that imitates almonds and combines it with lignin and corn syrup.
For this reason, almond extract is far more expensive than almond flavoring.
Now that we have explored almond extract, what have we learned?
- Almond extract lasts 3-4 years.
- It should be stored in a cool, dark place.
- Shelf life depends on how well you store it.
Now you know for sure whether your almond extract is ready to use or whether you need to go restock with a fresh bottle. Happy baking!