Does It Go Bad?

Information about storage and shelf life of various products

Does Chocolate Go Bad?

Does Chocolate go bad? This is the question you are asking yourself after digging out a Christmas treat bag … in November of the following year. We all love chocolate gifts and the chocolate looks awfully tasty but will it make you sick if you eat it?

How To Tell If Chocolate Is Bad

The easiest way to find out if your chocolate is spoiled or not is to do a taste test. If your normally sweet chocolate seems bitter or has taken on the taste of some other food such as onions or other non-chocolate types of flavors it’s safe to say that it should be thrown away.

Since chocolate absorbs smell, a sniff of your chocolate bar should be enough to tell you if it has gone rancid or if it’s okay. If it still has a sweet chocolate smell then it should be alright to consume, but if it’s acquired another type of smell either from it’s food neighbors or just a sick sort of smell you should discard it immediately[1].

Proper Storage Of Chocolate

Chocolate should always be stored in a cool dry place like a pantry or cabinet away from extreme sources of heat such as stoves and microwave ovens.

If you live in a climate that is often hot and humid you may refrigerate your chocolate gifts to prevent melting and conserve the flavor. When refrigerating chocolate be sure to wrap it securely or even put it in a Ziploc freezer bag to prevent loss of flavor and blooming which often occurs when moisture from the refrigerator comes into contact with the chocolate[2].

Chocolate is best when kept tightly wrapped in it’s original package and placed in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight. Unwrapping a piece of chocolate and leaving it exposed is probably the worst way to preserve its taste. This will cause it to either melt in the heat of the room or to dry out and become brittle and crumble when you try to eat it.


(credit: peterpearson)

How Long Does Chocolate Last?

Because of the flavonoids in chocolate that keep the oxidation of fats from occurring, chocolate gifts and other chocolate goods can be kept for an extended amount of time. These vary on the type of chocolate, the form, and also whether or not it stays wrapped in its original package.
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Most chocolates have a shelf life of eighteen months to two years unopened. Chocolate syrup might be kept for two years unopened and six months after opened and refrigerated. Pre-melted chocolate has an expiry date of one year in either the pantry or refrigerator. Unsweetened chocolate will expire after eighteen months in the pantry. Bittersweet chocolates will be safe to consume for up to two years. Dark chocolate is the type with the most exemplary shelf life of five years, while milk chocolate which is the most commonly consumed, is usually only kept for up to eighteen months[3][4].

What Is Chocolate Bloom?

If your chocolate has a white or grey color to it, it is not insincerely bad. It has undergone a process called chocolate bloom. This occurs in two different forms, coco blooming and sugar blooming.

Coco blooming is a result of the coco butter separating from the chocolate and forming on the surface of the chocolate. This usually happens because of heat exposure.

Sugar blooming happens because moisture has been allowed to reach the chocolate and this moisture draws out the sugar from the chocolate as it evaporates. This leaves sugar crystals on the surface of the chocolate and can cause the chocolate to appear and taste grainy. This often occurs when chocolate is refrigerated.

Blooming chocolate is not harmful in any way to consume. It can still be eaten safely and even used to bake with though its flavor may be slightly altered and it’s texture may become grainy on the tongue[4].

Summary
So that treat bag you found? Well, as long as you’re sure it’s from last Christmas and not five Christmases ago then it should be pretty safe to eat. Though it may have bloomed during it’s eleven month stay in the back of your desk so don’t be alarmed by the grey sheen or white specks that may appear on it. Chocolate does go bad, but this process takes time.

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