Chocolate is one of the most popular desserts and snacks around the world. It is popular with consumers whether they are children, adults, or elderly people. It makes for a great gift, can be shared amongst friends or family, and can be eaten alone. The variety of chocolates is seemingly unlimited and its’ velvety, rich flavor helps keep some people addicted to its’ taste and texture. If you buy your chocolate in bulk and you decide to store your leftovers in the cupboard, is that a good idea? That leads us to the all-important question: can chocolate go bad? How long does it last before that happens?
It really depends on the type and quality of the chocolate and the place you’re storing your chocolate in. By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of how to extend the shelf life of your chocolate and to prevent it from going bad prematurely.
Does Chocolate Go Bad?
Yes, chocolate can go bad. When it comes to chocolate going bad, it really depends on what type of chocolate you have purchased. Milk chocolate will deteriorate in flavor and taste quicker than other types of chocolate, due to its dairy contents. Dark chocolate tends to last a lot longer than milk chocolate in terms of lifespan. The flavor of dark chocolate may diminish over time, but it will still be safe to eat and use of baking purposes, syrup, and other uses. If you expose the chocolate to extremely high or low temperatures, it will be no longer safe to use or consume after a short period of time due to the growth of harmful bacteria on the chocolate.
The Shelf Life of Chocolate
Most chocolate will have a shelf life between eighteen months and two years, which may be extended in lifespan due to proper storage and care. Also, the chocolate syrup can last to two years without it being opened, and will last for an additional six months after first opening. Unsweetened chocolate can last up to eighteen months after initial purchase, while melted chocolate can last up to a year if preserved and stored correctly. The longest lifespan for chocolate comes from dark chocolate, which can last for around five years. There is a lot of variation with chocolate products in terms of overall lifespan so it is important to do further research on the type of chocolate before you make assumptions on their longevity. It’s also important to check the chocolates’ packaging for the expiration date to see how long the product will last you.
Signs Your Chocolate Has Gone Bad
There are a number of ways to tell if your chocolate has gone bad. If there is a white or grayish growth of fat on the surface of the chocolate, then the food should not be eaten. This growth of white fat comes from the cocoa butter separating itself from the cocoa mass and causing the fat to rise to the surface of the chocolate. The chocolate may still be safe to eat but you may want to sample a small part of the chocolate first before you eat the whole product. It is commonly known as a ‘fat bloom’ and is white/grayish in its appearance. There is also another bloom that can emerge from the sugar contents of the chocolate. If there is an unsightly, grainy texture developing over the surface of the chocolate, then the sugar of the product will have emerged from its depths. This occurrence is due to changes in the humidity and temperature of the area where the chocolate is being stored. The chocolate will still be safe to eat, but its flavor and taste will be lacking.
Some other signs to be on the look for when checking to see if your chocolate has expired are its’ overall odor and taste. If the chocolate smells bad and has an odorous smell, its’ likely not safe to eat and must be thrown out. Chocolate usually has a pleasant odor so it will be easy to tell if that is no longer the case. If you’re not sure about the chocolate, having a small sampling of the product by nibbling on it will give you a good indication of its good or bad status. If the chocolate has changed its’ flavor and has become bitter, rancid, or harsh, then it should not be eaten anymore.
Storing The Chocolate Properly
There are many ways in which to store your chocolate properly. However, the most common recommendations would be the following:
- Store your chocolate in cool, dry places of moderate temperatures (between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit). This is because solids will remain stable and the cocoa butter will remain in place. Some places to store your chocolate could be the cupboard, kitchen cabinet, or in a cellar.
- Keep your chocolate away from the light as this may cause oxidation to develop in your product causing the flavor to change negatively.
- Sealing the chocolate in an airtight container to avoid further oxidation is another option, especially if you put it in the freezer or in the refrigerator, which are cool and dark places that can extend the product’s lifespan.
- Put it in the refrigerator if the room temperature is too high. Usually it’s not recommended to refrigerate chocolate, however sometimes it may be required. Wrap the chocolate in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator. Refrigerating chocolate can also extend its shelf life about 25 %.
- You can also freeze your chocolate. Freezing chocolates can prolong it’s shelf life about 50% or more. Put your chocolate in a good quality plastic freezer bag, seal it tightly and then freeze it for up to one year.
If done right, your chocolate can last a long time. Just remember that chocolate tends to absorb nearby odors. So it’s necessary to keep your chocolates properly covered, no matter where you are storing them. For the best taste and freshness, put opened boxes of chocolates in a heavy duty plastic bag and close it tightly.