If you buy as much chocolate as I do, you have probably wondered if chocolate expires. Or maybe you have a bag of chocolate chips that has been in the pantry for years. Like all food products, chocolate has a shelf life and will eventually go bad. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the shelf life of chocolate.
Chocolate does not rot like other food products. However, it can go stale and lose its flavor over time. Stale chocolate can be dry and crumbly, and it may have lost all of its good flavors. Old stale chocolate may also develop white spots or streaks, have changed color, or developed a white film on the surface. If you notice that your chocolate has lost its flavor or has developed a waxy texture, it has probably expired and is no longer good to eat.
If the chocolate has any mold on it, it should be thrown away immediately. Mold is more likely to occur with milk and white chocolate, while dark chocolate typically can a couple of years in a sealed unopened wrapper, but it still will go stale.
You can also tell if chocolate has gone bad by its smell. Chocolate that has gone bad will have an unpleasant, sour smell. It is important to smell the chocolate before eating it, as it can cause nausea and vomiting if consumed.
Eating old chocolate can make you sick, and it is not worth the risk. When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution.
So, How Long Will It Last?
The best plan is to go by the “Use By” “Best Buy” or Expires” date on the product. However, many chocolates don’t have those, so here is the general rule of thumb for how long chocolate lasts.
- Unopened dark chocolate can typically last up to two years as long as it was properly stored.
- Unopened milk chocolate can typically last one year.
- Unopened white chocolate can last up to four months.
- Once you have opened a package and exposed the product to oxygen, light, heat, etc… the best you can hope for is a couple months or less.
How to Store Chocolate So It Stays Fresh
What is the best way to store chocolate so it lasts a long time? The answer is simple: in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Chocolate is very sensitive to heat, light, and moisture, so storing it in a cool, dark cupboard away from any windows is ideal. Chocolate should be stored in a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too hot, the chocolate can melt and become ruined. If the temperature is too cold, the chocolate can become hard and brittle.
If your home is particularly warm, you may even want to store your chocolate in the fridge. If you store chocolate in a sealed container in the refrigerator it will keep the chocolate fresh and prevent it from absorbing any odors from the fridge. However, you should only store chocolate in the fridge if you plan on eating it within a few weeks. Otherwise, the chocolate will dry out and lose its flavor. Just be sure to wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap first, as chocolate can pick up unwanted flavors from other food in the fridge.
As for moisture, chocolate should be stored in a dry place. A little bit of moisture can cause chocolate to bloom, which gives it a white, fuzzy appearance. Bloomed chocolate is still safe to eat, but it doesn’t look very appetizing!