Does chocolate go bad? Yes, it can spoil, but it has a long shelf life. Discover how long chocolate can last, the signs of spoilage, and proper storage tips to keep it at its best.
Everybody loves chocolate. It’s our all-time favorite sweet treat and one of the most common ingredients in desserts. The “food of the gods” is also known for its abundance of antioxidants that decrease the risk of heart disease, slow aging and the effects of stress, and increase mental acuity, among tons of other benefits.
There’s a scientific reason why we get hooked on nibbling chocolates. Chocolate contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, the happiness hormone. It also has phenylethylamine, also known as chocolate amphetamine, which causes feelings of excitement and attraction. No wonder chocolate is a popular Valentine’s gift!
If you find a forgotten chocolate bar in your pantry or have decided to look for that box of chocolate from last Valentine’s Day, how would you know if your newly-uncovered chocolate is still good? Read on to find out the shelf life of different types of chocolate, the signs of spoiled chocolate, and how you can store your stockpiles of chocolate in the future!
How Long Does Chocolate Last?
Chocolate can last for a lengthy period of time because of the flavonoids found in it that keep fats from oxidizing. There’s also little to no water activity in chocolate, so there’s very little opportunity for bacteria to grow.
The shelf life of chocolate depends on the type and storage conditions.
- Dark chocolate lasts longer than other chocolates since it has less dairy and higher cocoa content. A dark chocolate can last for about five years if stored at room temperature, preferably between 60°and 65° F (16° and 18° C).
- Bittersweet, semi-sweet, and baking chocolate can last for two years, whether at normal room temperature or in the fridge.
- Milk chocolate will remain at its best quality for one year when stored at normal room temperature or in the fridge.
- Belgian chocolate can last one to two weeks past the printed best-by date if you keep it in the pantry. When stored in the fridge, it can last two to four weeks, and two to four months in the freezer.
- Keep your treasured handmade chocolates and chocolate truffles in the fridge. They’ll last two to three months there or in the freezer. At room temperature, they’d last only two to three weeks.
How to Tell if Chocolate Has Gone Bad
You can tell if your chocolate has spoiled when there are significant changes in the taste, odor, and appearance.
Most chocolates contain cocoa butter, which easily absorbs the flavors and odors of anything around it. Some chocolates also start to taste waxy after the best-by date. If you’re dubious about that chocolate from Valentine’s or your birthday, do a sniff and taste test. If it tastes off and has a rancid odor, swallow your regret and discard the chocolate.
If the chocolate has been exposed to warm temperature or has been transferred from cold to hot temperature too quickly, the sugar in it will crystallize. This is called sugar bloom. It causes a grainy texture. It’s still safe to consume, but the taste and texture are not the same as before.
White spots or grayish film on the surface is normal for chocolates. It’s called a fat bloom. The cocoa butter fats in chocolate separate from the cocoa mass and rise to the surface. This only affects the appearance, so your chocolate is still safe to eat!
Best-before dates only indicate when it’s recommended to eat or use the chocolate at its best flavor and quality. You can still consume chocolate past these dates, as long as the taste and odor haven’t changed.
How to Properly Store Chocolate
It’s a bummer to eat stale chocolate. If you want to enjoy the creamy, cocoa goodness of chocolates, always follow these storage pointers:
- The best place to keep your chocolates is in the pantry. The room temperature is perfect and it’s away from sunlight. This prevents oxidation and changes in color and flavor.
- It’s not ideal to refrigerate chocolate; condensation will form on the chocolate once you take it out of the fridge and expose it to room temperature. However, if you live in a place with high temperature and high humidity, you can refrigerate your chocolates, as long as they’re stored in heavy-duty plastic bags and closed tightly.
- Chocolate has a low melting point—meaning it melts fast—so it shouldn’t be left in warm places for too long.
- You can freeze chocolate: place it in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags. It’s also ideal to set your freezer temperature at 17° – 22°C (62.6° – 71.6°F).
- If you can’t consume chocolate in one go, always return it to the original packaging. Most chocolate comes in aluminum packaging, which helps to enclose the melted butter inside and to reduce air contact.
With its long shelf life, you can stock up on as much chocolate as you want—for sudden cravings, movie dates, or for cooking choco-overloaded recipes like these:
- Chocolate Banana Smoothie with Goji Berries
- Chocolate Hazelnut & Raspberry Toast
- Chocolate Lava Cake
- Blueberry Chocolate Cake
- No-Bake Chocolate Drops With Easy Caramel Sauce
- Triple Nut & Chocolate Energy Bars
- Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
Remember, always store chocolate in a cool, dry place and at room temperature so you can enjoy it for future nibbles and dishes! Also, no matter how good it feels to indulge, always consume in moderation, because chocolate has high sugar content, and it’s not a good idea to eat too much of it, especially milk chocolate and white chocolate. Dark chocolate has slightly less sugar comparatively, so you might want to choose that to satisfy your cravings.