There is something about chocolate. You simply can’t pass by the chocolate aisle without grabbing a few bars, right? However, have you ever wondered about the shelf life of chocolate? Apart from this, how long does chocolate last in the fridge? How does bad chocolate look and taste like?
It is easy to get carried away by these melt-in-your-mouth treats. Consequently, this can cause you to pay little or no attention to their state.
Read on. Get a better understanding of your favourite pastime indulgence.
Types of Chocolate
Chocolate is produced from roasted cacao seeds. Interestingly, the seeds come enclosed in cacao pods. The skins of the seeds are removed. You are then left with the nibs or flesh.
Crushing the nibs changes them into liquor. Further processing causes separation of solids (cacao butter) from the liquid.
The liquid is now used to derive various cacao products. The skin is ground to produce cocoa solids or powder which are used in various ways.
For chocolate making, the cocoa solids are combined with sugar, cocoa butter and liquid.
Depending on the ingredients used, chocolate comes in different types as described below:
White chocolate is derived from the following – cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids or powder. Other derivatives have added vanilla flavor. Lecithin is also a common ingredient in milk chocolate.
There has been a great debate: Is white chocolate real chocolate? The bone of contention is this: The lack of cocoa solids which give chocolate its dark color.
However, the presence of cocoa butter in white chocolate classifies it as one. Nevertheless, opinions are like noses and each person has one.
Dark chocolate contains a high level of cocoa solids. Some recipes contain up to 90%. Other ingredients used include sugar and cocoa butter.
A good quality dark chocolate only contains the mentioned ingredients.
In lower chocolate qualities, you will find additional ingredients. These include vegetable oils, butter fats and flavors. Such chocolates contain less amounts of cocoa solids.
This is still a dark chocolate. However, milk chocolate contains a substantial amount of milk. This can be in the form of condensed milk, powdered or liquid milk.
Unsweetened Dark Chocolate
Only two ingredients are used to make unsweetened chocolate; cocoa solids and cocoa butter. As a result, it is highly popular in cooking.
Moreover, unsweetened dark variety is often referred to as baking, cooking or bitter chocolate.
It is favorable for baking or cooking. Moreover, it imparts the deep cocoa flavor.
This is useful due to the following: other types contain ingredients such as sugar, milk or artificial flavour. These normally affect the outcome of the cooked or baked product.
This is a cross between dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate. It is therefore used interchangeably with unsweetened chocolate.
Vegetable oil is added to unsweetened chocolate and tempered to a thick, smooth consistency. It is used as a spread, in baking or making chocolate sauce.
These form the base for most chocolate varieties. Cocoa solids have a coarse texture. They can also be finely ground into cocoa powder. Pure cocoa solids should not contain sugar.
Knowing the different types of chocolate is crucial. Accord each type the required care and storage conditions. This is necessary to prolong their shelf life.
Chocolate Can Last in the Fridge: Here are Effective Storage Tips
It is hard to imagine chocolate going bad. Moreover, the chances of having stocked or leftover chocolate in the pantry is next to naught.
However, chocolate will expire at some point.
Avoid the following 4 conditions: They hasten spoilage of chocolate:
- Direct sunlight – Like Dracula, chocolate and direct sunlight don’t augur well. Therefore, an ideal storage spot should be dark and enclosed. Avoid storing chocolate near the windows or where sunlight easily sips in.
- Heat – Kitchen cabinets that are directly above the cooking range or stove – Do not store chocolate in them. Heat destroys the potency of chocolate. As a result, this causes melting, leading to a shorter shelf life.
- Moisture – Moist and wet conditions cause bacterial and mold growth. These culprits are responsible for causing decay.
- It absorbs flavours and odors. Avoid storing chocolate near items with strong odors.
Each chocolate type is unique. They command different storage conditions. When unsure, make the refrigerator your friend, as chocolate will last well in the fridge.
Dark chocolate has a longer shelf life than other types. Store unopened dark chocolate in the pantry for up to 2 years.
Avoid refrigerating or freezing unopened chocolate. Store dark chocolate in a dark, well-ventilated and dry area.
When opened but stored in the right state, dark chocolate will keep well for a whole year.
The dairy content in milk chocolate predisposes it to faster deterioration. Low temperatures are ideal for milk chocolate. Thus, milk chocolate will last in the fridge.
When left unopened, milk chocolate will keep well for a full year.
Freeze opened milk chocolate for 8 months. Freeze in small batches – only remove what you need.
Whether you prefer coarsely texture or powder, store cocoa solids in airtight and heavy duty containers. This mitigates sunlight and moisture which hasten spoilage.
Store the solids in a cool, dark area. Cocoa solids can keep well indefinitely.
Due to its semi-liquid texture, store pre-melted chocolate in cool temperatures. It also has a shorter shelf life, due to the volatile oils in vegetable oil or shortening used.
Keep unopened jars of pre-melted in the pantry for up to 6 months. Once opened, use the refrigerator. Pre-melted chocolate keeps well in the fridge.
White chocolate has a high concentration of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is loaded with fats. This greatly shortens the shelf life of white chocolate.
High quality white chocolate actually has a yellowish-cream hue. However, you can encounter extremely white chocolate.
Additional bleaching agents create an extremely white chocolate. As such, this minimises the amount of cocoa butter used, as it is quite costly.
White chocolate has a smoother texture. It melts easily even when kept in the pantry.
White chocolate can last in the fridge. Freeze unopened white chocolate until usage.
Never leave white chocolate in an open area. Refrigerate after using.
Like dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate keeps well. In the pantry, it can keep for up to 2 years. In addition, store away from sunlight and moisture. Apart from that, keep it wrapped up tightly.
How to Identify Bad Chocolate
Have you ever come across spoiled chocolate? Or are you just clueless on the tell-tale signs? Well, here are a few pointers:
- Visible mold on the surface. Mold appears as a grayish or whitish substance. It causes fatal reactions when ingested, hence discard such chocolate immediately.
- Clear, milky layer on the surface. This is also a sign that the chocolate has gone overboard. It may still be palatable, nevertheless exercise caution.
- Crumbly and cracked bits. That is to say that the chocolate has stayed for too long.
- Pre-melted chocolate gives off a bitter, rancid taste. Therefore, discard any rancid-tasting chocolate.
For all the chocoholics, stay informed about the shelf life of chocolate. Most importantly, exercise effective storage techniques to mitigate spoilage.