To rapidly answer your question, if you need an experienced online source for a report or whatever, sure. Sure, chocolate can spoil. Nonetheless, your chocolate is unlikely to have gone rotten.
Nevertheless, to digress a little, I decided to finally write this piece since I am asked many times a month how long and where they should store their recently acquired bars of chocolate or box of bonbons. I usually advise people to put it in the same location where they would store spices, even though you shouldn’t really store it with your spices (the chocolate could absorb that flavor over time). Moreover, if you find yourself with old chocolate (or just stale chocolate), how can you recognize when it has gone bad?
Thus, in this post, you’ll discover the reasons behind my sage counsel, as well as why it doesn’t matter whether you store your Charleston Chews and 3 Musketeers in the freezer (no matter where they live,Halloween chocolate is still not chocolate). Continue reading to learn why, as well as when each variety of chocolate expires and how to store chocolate so that it never goes bad.
Is Chocolate Perishable?
As a general rule, chocolate does not spoil. It may potentially rot since it includes fat, however cocoa butter (the fat of the cacao bean) is very shelf-stable. Chocolate, properly kept in a cool, dry environment, may survive a decade or more. Therefore the true risk of chocolate spoiling is caused by four major factors: fat bloom, sugar bloom, expired or overheated milk, or being infused with tastes or additives that may expire.
Let us dissect each of them.
Nuts, caramels, and other moist fillings are examples of flavors or components that may go bad in chocolate. Remember, we’re just talking about simple chocolate bars here; chocolate confections and baked products have substantially shorter shelf life owing to the inclusion of perishable components such as milk and butter. When purchasing a flavored chocolate bar of any sort, check the ingredients list to determine whether any of them have a shorter shelf life than plain chocolate, such as if butter oil has been added.
So, how long does it take chocolate to spoil? The basic guideline is that dark chocolate will last at least two years (three if properly kept), while milk, ruby, and white chocolate will last at least a year (two if properly stored). Since they include milk powder, which is perishable when exposed to water or intense heat, they have shorter best by dates. Several people have asked whether chocolate chips can go bad, but the answer is yes. Chocolate chips are excellent for as long as the sort of chocolate from which they are manufactured.
Nevertheless, unless exposed to high heat, white and milk chocolates do not normally go bad since the powdered milk in them has a very long shelf life. The most probable cause of chocolate seeming to have gone bad is a process known as bloom. Chocolate bloom comes in two varieties: sugar bloom and fat bloom.
Fat bloom occurs when a chocolate’s lipid structure becomes less stable and the fat rises to the top, causing it to appear grey, similar to every chocolate bar you’ve ever left in the vehicle on a hot day. It will still be edible, but the texture will be somewhat off. In Spanish, bloom is referred to as cuando el chocolate se pone feo, meaning when the chocolate gets ugly. Yet sometimes this chocolate is still lovely.
Sugar bloom resembles fat bloom in appearance, however it happens as a consequence of water destabilizing the sugar in the chocolate. Even a little amount of moisture may trigger sugar bloom. Water, when added to tempered chocolate, dissolves the sugar crystals that have been equally dispersed throughout the chocolate. This bloom is distinguished by a whitish, dusty-looking, grainy covering that pocks the surface of the chocolate and occurs on both white and milk chocolate.
Is it safe to consume flowered chocolate? The quick answer is yes! It may not taste as delicious as it once did, but even perfectly tempered cocoa butter crystals cannot maintain their form indefinitely. Eventually, all chocolate will blossom. Nonetheless, unless anything catastrophic has occurred, the chocolate should still be safe to consume. Toss a blooming chocolate bar only if it no longer smells strongly like chocolate or has a moldy or musty odor.
My favorite way to utilize blooming chocolate is to make hot chocolate, but it’s also fantastic for baking brownies or cake. The two sections that follow go into further depth on actual chocolate expiry dates and appropriate chocolate storage. Now let’s have a look at how to save that chocolate you just discovered at the back of the closet!
When Does Chocolate Go Bad? CAN CHOCOLATE PERISH?
Due to the absence of water activity, properly tempered chocolate bars will survive longer than most meals. This is significant because bacteria flourish in water, and it is bacteria that rots food and causes it to spoil. Without water, there is no (bacterial) life. Moreover, well-tempered cocoa butter is a highly stable lipid, and sugar has been used to preserve food for millennia by protecting it from water action.
So, how long can chocolate be stored? As previously stated, most plain black chocolate is excellent for at least two years from the date of manufacturing, although milk and white chocolate are good for at least one year. But, I have chocolate-maker friends who retain and sometimes eat chocolate they prepared more than a decade ago.
So, for those who aren’t chocolate specialists, can you consume chocolate that is two years old? Maybe ten years? To provide some anecdotal proof, my mother cooked brownies in 2020 using a bar of baking chocolate produced in 2008. As a result, I believe the expiry date of chocolate is rather arbitrary. But, when it comes to chocolate goods, the situation becomes a little more tricky.
Do Hershey’s kisses, for example, go bad? What about delicacies like Mars Bars or Reeses Cups, which we name chocolate but are really candies? These concerns are related to the other components, which are often sugar, artificial flavorings, and certain kinds of milk products. As a result, it’s critical to check the ingredients list for such sweets, and if they include milk or another perishable, trash them after the best-by date has passed.
Certain chocolate bars, like excellent wine, evolve and improve with time. These are your single origin artisan chocolates, created with mold-free cacao and no milk, deserving of careful storage and revisiting in a few years. In fact, most chocolate is purposely aged before being packed.
The only exceptions to the foregoing guidelines are chocolate-flavored items that do not contain much cacao, such as Tootsie Rolls or M&Ms. They should still be kept away from extreme heat and humidity, but you may freeze them in a tight container. Cacao powder and cocoa butter do not expire, however they might get stale and flavorless if carelessly kept.
Sadly, unless the chocolate smells really strange, the only way to know whether it is expired is to eat it (and spit it out, if needed). That is why good chocolate preservation is essential; continue reading to learn more.
How to Keep Chocolate
To begin, keep in mind that the best before date on your chocolate is not an expiration date, but rather an approximate estimate of when it could taste less excellent. The amount of taste loss you are willing to tolerate is directly proportional to when your chocolate has gone bad for you. Yet, there are a few basic practices that, if followed, will make storing chocolate a breeze.
In general, keep chocolate in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight. Heat and moisture are the enemy of chocolate (i.e. your cold, wet fridge is not ideal). Plain chocolate will keep around 6-12 months once opened, however it can survive a few months longer if properly kept in the fridge. Chocolate chips, for example, may be placed in a sealed container and frozen for an even longer shelf life.
Just remember to return any frozen or refrigerated products to room temperature before baking or tasting them, since lower temperatures have a detrimental impact on the taste receptors (and recipes). That’s the short response, and it’ll suffice for most people. So if you’re a foodie like me and are fascinated by anything linked to food, keep reading.
Why Is It Dangerous To Keep Chocolate In The Fridge?
Hundreds of distinct molecules contribute to the taste of chocolate, while dozens of additional chemicals interact to preserve its structure and texture. Heat and humidity both destabilize this structure, which is why I advocate avoiding both. My basic storage suggestion is to keep items at the back of a kitchen cabinet or on the bottom shelf of the pantry.
Fine chocolate, like honey, will keep as long as it is properly preserved. So how long does chocolate last once it’s been refrigerated? When done incorrectly, placing chocolate in the fridge will destroy the exterior layer of chocolate by causing condensation on the bar, softening and spoiling the melt of the chocolate, and compromising the stability of whatever paper packaging it came in.
24C). The recommended temperature for chocolate preservation is 55-68F (13-20C), which is the temperature maintained in most contemporary houses and much above the temperature of a refrigerator. As a result, the refrigerator should only be used as a last option, such as if you live in an unusually warm residence (over 75F).
Beyond temperature, the items with the strongest odors in your fridge will be the greatest offenders when it comes to damaging your bar. Consider garlic, cheese, and marinades; these flavors will infiltrate your sweets until they taste more like meat than delight. Also, chocolate and water-based drinks do not mix. Consider the last time you prepared hot chocolate by melting the chocolate into the hot milk rather than the other way around. It was thick and velvety, but did it truly melt?
The key to making hot chocolate is to gradually thin the melted chocolate with milk or water. But, if you use low-quality chocolate or chocolate that has been kept in your fridge, the particular flavor of your fridge may impact the smell and taste of your chocolate rather rapidly, even overnight. This is why it is important to examine the packaging of the chocolate before storing it.
Before refrigerating most sweets, remove them from their original packaging and store them in glass tupperware with some dry paper towels. This is also a smart option if you want to preserve a bar for a long time (1+ years), and it applies to any chocolate, from the gourmet bar you bought overseas to the Snickers bar from the local shop (yeah, okay, Snickerscan count as candy-chocolate). Gourmet truffles or bonbons will only last two weeks, maybe shorter depending on the contents.
Rapid temperature variations destabilize your chocolate’s fat structure by modifying the sort of crystal it produces. Refrigeration ensures that your chocolate will ultimately bloom (see above for more on bloom), which damages the texture when you consume it and maybe its ability to melt properly at normal room temperatures. Thus, if you do refrigerate your chocolate, let it out at room temperature for a few hours before eating it. Your taste senses will appreciate us both.
Questions about Chocolate Shelf Life
bonbon). Is it, however, making you sick? Although chocolate is unlikely to make you sick, it will most certainly taste disgusting in any of the following conditions! Do you want to know how to identify whether chocolate is unhealthy for you? It’s as easy as a smell! If your chocolate smells moldy or sour (like sour milk), either the milk in it has gone bad or it has absorbed some neighboring odors. If the chocolate is pale, it is almost definitely fat bloom or sugar bloom (unless the chocolate is filled).
Freezer burn may happen to your chocolate! Although freezing chocolate may increase the shelf life of cheap chocolate or keep chocolate chip cookies cool, it may impair the temper (fat stability) of the chocolate, perhaps making it appear white and crumbly.
Sure, chocolate chips may go bad over time, but it takes a long! Milk or white chocolate chips should survive 2+ years in cold, dry circumstances, whereas dark chocolate chips should last 3+ years. Can chocolate chips go bad in the freezer as well? Sure, but they must add a year to the shelf life.
Yeah, cocoa powder may spoil, however it normally takes 10+ years for well-sealed cacao powder to become sour (in an airtight container).
When stored cold and dry, ruby, milk, or white chocolate should last 2 to 3 years, while dark chocolate should last 3 to 4 years.
You very surely can! The actual issue is how long you can consume chocolate once it has passed its expiry date. Can you, for example, consume chocolate that is two years old? You absolutely can if the dark chocolate has been properly preserved. Before eating any milk or white chocolate, I would smell it and take a little mouthful. I’d start sniffing and biting dark chocolate at three years old.
Chocolate may deteriorate in the heat if it includes milk and the temperature rises high enough. Yet, one afternoon in a vehicle is unlikely to result in such long-term harm. Check at images of fat bloom and sugar bloom to see whether the white coating resembles them. If it occurs and you can scrape it off, it is just a surface flaw and the chocolate is still safe to consume. If not, I’d throw it out; any chocolate with a filling might potentially mold.
If the temperature in the room is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I would place your chocolate in a cooler location within a couple of hours. Everything below that should be OK forever as long as it is not under direct heat (including sunshine).
If you feel ill after eating chocolate, throw the remainder of it away and don’t purchase it again. Old chocolate may make you ill if it has been contaminated with anything or if one of the additional components, such as milk powder, has expired. Unless you created it yourself or it’s 100% chocolate (baking chocolate), I’d throw away any milk or white chocolate that’s over 3 years old, and any dark chocolate that’s over 5 years old.
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