Does Almond Extract Go Bad? The Complete Guide

Almond extract is a must-have ingredient if you’re serious about baking.

The advantage of using almond extract is that you can add a deeper, more satisfying flavor without overpowering the baked good you’re making.  Although almond extract can be found in almost any grocery store, you can also make it in your home. 

Almond extract is also believed to contain powerful natural healing properties, so much so that there are doctors that will prescribe the extract for use by their patients.

If you’ve had a bottle in your cupboard for a little while, you may be wondering – does almond extract go bad? The answer is that it doesn’t, at least not the way you might expect. It can last for up to 4 years.

Read on to learn about the shelf-life of almond extract, how to properly store it and how to tell if you should throw it out.

Does Almond Extract Go Bad?

As I mentioned earlier, almond extract doesn’t ‘go bad’ in the traditional sense.

What I mean by this is that it doesn’t become unsafe to use if you keep it for too long. However, over time it will start to lose its almond flavor and quality.

But, assuming you’re happy with the flavor, you can use almond extract until it evaporates.

How Long Does Almond Extract Last?

The conditions in which the extract is stored will determine how long it will maintain its quality and flavor. 

In order to maximize the shelf life of your almond extract, you must store it in a cool, dark area, out of direct sunlight and heat.  Exposure to heat or sunlight will speed up the extract’s loss of overall quality.

Almond extract can be stored at room temperature. In most cases, under these conditions, the bottle of extract will maintain its quality for between three or four years. The reason for the long shelf-life is due to the presence of alcohol. 

In order to ensure that the extract has the longest possible shelf life, it is suggested that you keep the lid tightly closed unless in use. 

You don’t have to worry about storing it in your freezer or fridge, as storing it in your pantry or cupboard will suffice. In fact, storing it in the fridge or freezer will actually negatively impact the quality of your extract.

Can You Use Expired Almond Extract?

If not properly stored, as mentioned above, there is the chance that the extract may degrade and lose its strength more quickly.  And, if not adequately resealed after each use, there is the chance that it can slowly evaporate.  

Like most extracts, almond extract will last three to four years as long as the packaging is undamaged. 

Although most packages of the extract will offer a “best by,” “best when used by,” “best if used by,” or “best before” date on the packaging, this is not meant to be seen as or interpreted as a safety date.  The date is the manufacturer’s best guess estimate as to how long the extract will remain at its peak of quality.

So ultimately yes, you can use expired almond extract. It certainly won’t make you sick. However, you may want to throw it out if it loses the strength of its almond flavor.

How to Tell if Almond Extract Has Gone Bad

If your extract has developed a strong alcohol smell, taste, or a change to its appearance, the odds are good that you should toss it out. 

Manufacturers of pure almond extract use bitter almond oil and alcohol to create it.  Over time, the aroma of almonds will begin to fade, replaced by a strong alcohol odor instead.  If this happens, it is best to err on the side of caution and toss it out.

After all, there’s not much use using it to flavor your baking if it doesn’t have any flavor!

Can Expired Almond Extract Make You Sick?

It is pretty unlikely that expired almond extract will make you sick.  Many have long believed that because one of the extract’s ingredients is alcohol, it would cause an upset stomach if it expired.  However, the amount of extract you’d need to consume for this to happen is rather large!

It’s important to know that almond extract has never been intended to be consumed as a beverage.  Only small portions are to be used in any recipe.  When used in overly large amounts, there is the possibility that the extract can be toxic.  No more than 7.5 ml of bitter almond oil used to create the extract should be consumed, or the results may be lethal.

If you have a nut allergy, you need to take extreme caution.  If you’re planning to ingest almond extract, or any recipe containing the extract, it’s highly recommended that you consult your physician before using it.

How to Properly Store Almond Extract

Ensure you keep your bottle of extract tightly closed at all times. 

If you don’t do this, it can quickly lose not only its aroma but also its overall almond flavoring. 

Avoid storing almond extract in the refrigerator or freezer or anywhere it may be exposed to heat or direct sunlight.  Keeping your extract in your pantry or cupboard is ideal, as long as it remains dark and cool.

Can You Make Almond Extract At Home?

Yes, you can!  To create your own homemade almond extract, you only need two ingredients-unsalted almonds and vodka.  

Take the unsalted almonds and slice them into slivers as thin as possible.  Then, place the slivered almonds into a glass jar, preferably dark colored such as an amber one.  You will then need to pour eight ounces of vodka into the jar and cap it with a tight-fitting lid.

An amber-colored bottle is the best choice, as it will prevent any light from penetrating the bottle.  A clear bottle can be used if needed, with both glass and plastic bottles being good choices as well.

So that your homemade almond extract develops a rich flavor, you’ll need to allow the mixture to sit for at least six weeks before you use it.

As always, keep it in a cool, dark place when you store it to avoid exposure to sunlight and heat.