Heat and water are the two most important factors in long-term chocolate preservation. Although chocolate cannot go bad, it may taste much less nice.
Chocolate should be kept at low ambient temperatures to avoid fat bloom or melting, and in dry settings to avoid reacting with water and creating sugar bloom or seizing. On the market, chocolate goods range from solid bars or bonbons with fillings to creamy fudges and other sweets. These various types of chocolate, however, may provide their own storing issues.
Avoiding fat and sugar bloom is critical for long-term chocolate storage and may be accomplished by following a few important rules. They are summed up as follows: Chocolate should be stored at temperatures ranging from 15 to 21 degrees Celsius (58 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit), with humidity levels of 70% or less. Continue reading our comprehensive guide on chocolate storage to discover more about how long chocolate lasts and our advice for long term chocolate storage.
How Long Will Chocolate Keep?
Chocolate often has a best-before date. This is a basic guideline established by the makers as to when they can ensure the finest flavor and texture of their chocolate. In truth, chocolate has a lengthy shelf life that extends much beyond the best before date as long as it is kept according to the guidelines outlined below.
- Dark Chocolate – can maintain its quality 2 years from the manufacturing date in proper ambient storage conditions, and up to 4 years refrigerated with some degradation.
- White Chocolate – can maintain its quality up to 1 year from its manufacturing date in proper ambient storage conditions, and up to 2 years refrigerated with some degradation.
- Milk chocolate – like white chocolate, it will maintain its quality for up to 1 year in proper ambient storage conditions, and up to 2 years refrigerated with some degradation.
- Bonbons, Fudge, & Others – chocolates with added ingredients like fillings, nuts, dairy, dried fruits, salts, etc., will have varying shelf lives. For these types of chocolates, it’s best to follow the label and consume them by the best-before date indicated, or two weeks after the production date.
Since solid bars include fewer perishable components, they degrade only little beyond their best before dates. Chocolate with fillings and other combined perishable components, on the other hand, should be used within two weeks after manufacturing or by the best before date. To help you make a choice, we’ll look at the properties of chocolate to better understand the optimal temperature and humidity ranges for chocolate preservation.
The Effects of Temperature and Tempering on Chocolate Storage
Let’s start with tempering, which is a procedure in which certain fat crystals develop in chocolate to give it the resilience and integrity to keep its shape. The cocoa butter (fat) in chocolate, in particular, is a polymorphic material. This implies it may crystallize into six distinct forms, numbered I through VI.
This method is critical for chocolate storage because it gives the best structure for chocolate to remain in the shapes into which it is molded. Tempering chocolate entails heating it to a certain temperature, chilling it to a different temperature, and then heating it again to a slightly higher specific temperature.
The ultimate temperature in the procedure determines the shape of the resultant crystals. This is why failure to regulate the temperature during this procedure often results in erratic crystal forms, which damage the smoothness and longevity of the chocolate. Attempting to generate predominantly type V crystals provides chocolate manufacturers and chocolatiers with the most shelf-stable chocolates.
Type V crystals have the best look, snap, and relatively high melting point (between 34 and 37 degrees Celsius) (93.2F 98.6F). Tempering produces nearly all Type V crystals, with a larger percentage of Type V producing a more shelf-stable chocolate.
Additional heating should be avoided to prevent the formation of other crystal kinds. This collection of well-formed Type V crystals may now be utilized as seed crystals, or seed chocolate, to mimic the correct crystal structure for the untempered chocolate to which it is introduced.
The heat tolerance of each chocolate kind becomes evident from here. When plain chocolate is exposed to direct sunshine and heat over the crystal formation threshold, the crystals break down and the cocoa butter separates. This separation first appears as an off-white or light brownish surface discoloration known as fat bloom. The chocolate finally melts when it is exposed to temperatures closer to human body temperature.
According to one investigation, the hue of chocolate also impacted how rapidly it melted. Dark chocolate usually melted faster than milk or white chocolate throughout the experiments because its dark tint absorbed more sunlight. As shown, keeping chocolate at temperatures below 23 degrees Celsius (73.4 degrees Fahrenheit), when cocoa butter hardens, and avoiding direct sunlight help to preserve the vital Type V crystals. This avoids the production of fat bloom and the melting of chocolate.
But what about the inverse? We now need to look at cold shocks and the impact of moisture on chocolate in the bottom part of this temperature range.
How Temperature Shocks Affect Chocolate
If heat can ruin chocolate, then so can cold! Transporting chocolate to and from frigid locations exposes it to dramatic temperature swings known as temperature shocks. Condensation might develop as a result, introducing moisture and water to the chocolate.
Dark chocolate absorbs moisture at humidity levels exceeding 82%, whereas milk chocolate absorbs moisture at 78%. From this, we can see that the suggestion for humidity levels of 70% or less is a reasonable limit for these criteria. This is due to the fact that water and chocolate do not mix well.
As water evaporates, sugar crystals develop in the chocolate, resulting in a white hard grainy surface known as sugar bloom. As melted chocolate comes into contact with water, masses of cacao solids develop and separate owing to friction, resulting in clumps that do not mix properly.
7 Common Chocolate Storing Suggestions
1 Keep track of the kind of chocolate you’re keeping as well as the best before date or date of manufacturing. The best before date is vital for solid bars, and the kind of chocolate will determine how long they may be stored. Chocolate confections, as well as those with mixed components or fillings, should be eaten within two weeks after preparation.
2 Keep chocolate in its normal temperature range. Since chocolate melts at body temperature, it must be kept at a cool ambient temperature. If your environment permits, store chocolate between 15C and 21C (58F and 70F) to preserve the Type V crystal structures of cocoa butter.
3 Save chocolate factory packaging unless you want to consume it immediately. It goes without saying that you should not open chocolate packaging unless you intend to consume it; this also applies to full chocolate goods that you have not yet sampled. A research found that chocolates kept in their original packaging at temperatures ranging from 25°C to 40°C (77°F to 104°F) had reduced peroxide levels (level of deterioration).
The same research found that opened chocolates gained the most moisture. If the packaging is damaged or unavailable, precautions must be taken to protect the chocolate from contamination, which might alter its structure and taste.
4 Keep pests away from chocolate. Even fresh packaging isn’t always enough to keep them out. According to a research on insect infestation, even aluminum foil was not strong enough to defend completely against insect assaults, especially those annoying ants.
Protective chocolate preservation is required, even though insect and rodent assaults on milk and white chocolates, as well as chocolate confections with fillings, are more common than on dark chocolates with greater cocoa content. Chocolates whose packaging has been compromised or exposed to pests are no longer safe to consume or reuse.
5 Chocolate should not be exposed to strong scents or odours. Raw cocoa beans are susceptible to aromas, such as smoke from a kiln that may have been used to dry them. Chocolate is the same way, and it must be handled carefully to avoid absorbing strong, foul-smelling aromas and generating off-flavors. After chocolate has picked up unpleasant scents, they cannot be eliminated, even if remelted.
6 Keep chocolate out of direct sunshine and heat-emitting light. The same research noted in tip 3 found that exposing free fatty acids to hot light sources increased their breakdown, which contributes to rancidity (through the oxidation of cocoa butters oleic acids).
The oxidative rancidity of chocolate is directly responsible for the formation of disagreeable tastes and smells. Heat-sealed laminated packaging performed well in slowing acid breakdown, but keeping chocolate away from sunshine and other warm light sources also prevents it from melting.
7 Keep moisture and humidity in mind. We’ve previously examined how water causes sugar bloom and seizing, but lipid oxidation is the primary source of deterioration and off-flavor production in chocolate. Increased levels of oxidation were discovered to be associated with chocolate that had absorbed more moisture when humidity levels rose. This is evident in white chocolate, which is why humidity levels should not exceed 70%. (though lower is always better).
How to Keep Handmade Chocolate & Bonbons Safe
All of the above suggestions also apply to handmade chocolate and bonbons. Guidelines for handcrafted bars remain intact, and will take into account all other factors such as cocoa and cocoa butter content, fillings, and perishable components.
Chocolate bonbons are distinctive. One chocolatier suggests that chocolate bonbons be stored with particular care since their contents may include perishable materials and moisture that might develop mold or yeast. As a result, it is advised that bonbons be stored at a somewhat colder temperature range of 11-18C (50-65F) to avoid destroying their texture. To prevent the moisture in the ganache interior from drying out and generating fractures in the outside chocolate shell, a humidity level of 50% to 60% is preferable.
Fat bloom may occur if fats from the fillings or nuts permeate the chocolate coating. Chocolate bonbons have an extremely limited shelf life due to the fillings and other perishable components. These should be eaten within a few days after manufacturing if properly kept at room temperature, and within two weeks if properly refrigerated or frozen.
Handmade chocolates and bonbons may not be adequately packaged for long-term preservation. A pantry may not be adequate if the surrounding surroundings are not optimal. The finest types of storage, such as dedicated wine cabinets, can manage both temperature and humidity levels, albeit they may be pricey. Airtight storage containers are required, while vacuum sealing is preferable.
Keeping Chocolate Cool During the Summer
Temperatures may climb beyond optimal levels throughout the summer, or even all year if you dwell in the tropics. The important thing to remember here is that quick temperature swings may create condensation, which leads to dissolved sugars and, ultimately, unattractive sugar bloom. As a result, although a colder atmosphere is preferable, it is also more susceptible to moisture during transfers.
But, if you do not have access to costly and elegant storage options, keeping your chocolate in the refrigerator may be your only cost-effective choice. To keep chocolate safe in the refrigerator, put it in an airtight container to reduce oxidation and avoid odor contamination.
This is particularly true for individuals who keep ripe fruits, garlic, and other strong-flavored items in their refrigerator. Try covering the chocolate with something absorbent, like a paper towel. This allows the wrapper to absorb moisture from condensation that develops while transferring chocolate across environments.
Questions on Chocolate Storing
Cadbury recommends not refrigerating chocolate, and we agreed. Chocolate should be stored in a pest-free environment with temperatures below 21°C (69.8°F), humidity levels below 70%, and away from direct sunlight. If the ambient temperature is greater than what is advised, or if you live in a tropical region with high ambient temperatures, storing them in the refrigerator may be a smart alternative.
To maintain freshness, store chocolate in the fridge rather than the freezer. The temperature change is lower, making it simpler to acclimate to than thawing before eating. Freezing chocolate may also cause freezer burn, which can decrease the flavor and texture, particularly if it includes fillings.
Ganache fillings keep their flavor and texture for just a few days and are prone to rotting owing to their moisture content. Dark chocolate may be kept in optimal ambient temperatures and conditions for up to two years after manufacturing (with its original packaging intact). Milk and white chocolates in sealed packaging can survive up to a year from the date of manufacture, but if the packaging has already been opened, they can only last 6 months. Chocolate confections, on the other hand, are best enjoyed by their best before dates due to their combination of perishable components. This is generally just a few months after manufacture. Fudge-filled chocolate bonbons
Chocolates can, in fact, be frozen for long-term preservation. When packed airtight in the freezer, you can quadruple the shelf life of chocolate, but it will ultimately taste less nice. Just place it in the fridge before defrosting to enable it to acclimatize to warmer temperatures, reducing brownish sugar bloom from moisture.
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