You haven’t made ice cream sundaes in forever, but somehow there’s a bottle of chocolate syrup in your fridge. Does chocolate syrup go bad, and how long do you have to use that unopened bottle on the bottom shelf of your pantry?
Does chocolate syrup go bad?
Though it will take quite a bit of time, chocolate syrup can go bad. Unopened store bought chocolate syrup can be stored for three years (or even longer!) in a cool, dark place. Once opened, store bought chocolate syrup can be refrigerated for up to two years before spoiling. Be sure that chocolate syrup stored in the fridge is tightly sealed, to prevent spoilage. While the syrup will likely still be safe to consume after the time periods indicated, the quality will degrade over time. So, in order to have the best tasting sundae, stick with these dates!
As chocolate syrup has a high moisture content, any foreign liquid introduced can greatly increase the chance of mold or bacteria growth. Therefore, it’s important to resist the urge to wipe the sticky syrup off of the lid with a wet cloth or paper towel. If you have to clean the lid of the container in order to prevent it from becoming clogged, use a dry paper towel.
Homemade chocolate syrup contains fewer preservatives, and therefore, has a shorter shelf life than its store bought counterpart. Tightly sealed in the refrigerator, homemade chocolate syrup will keep for up to six months, depending on the recipe. Be sure to check for signs of spoilage before using homemade chocolate syrup that has been in the fridge for a while.
Image used under Creative Commons from Daniel Oines
Signs of Spoilage
You can tell that chocolate syrup is beginning to spoil when the texture starts to change significantly. Clumping and separation of the syrup both indicate spoilage, and that the chocolate syrup should not be consumed.
Any sign of mold, or a sour smell also indicates that the chocolate syrup has spoiled and should not be eaten.
Storing Chocolate Syrup Long Term
If a bottle of store bought chocolate syrup is unopened, freezing as a method of preservation is not recommended. Freezing will not extend the shelf life of store bought chocolate syrup, but could destroy the bottle, and will likely alter the texture of the product. Even opened store bought syrup has a long enough shelf life in the refrigerator, that freezing is not a good option. Simply storing unopened bottles in the pantry, and tightly sealed open bottles in the refrigerator is the best method of preservation.
Though you can freeze homemade chocolate syrup, the texture will change, and crystals may form. If this occurs, you may have to reheat the syrup over heat, stirring often until the syrup is heated through, and regains its original texture. Homemade syrup may be frozen in a sealed airtight container for up to six months. Be sure to allow the syrup to cool down before freezing!
If you are making a large batch of homemade chocolate syrup, so long as it is made with cocoa powder and not actual chocolate, the best method for long term storage is canning. Chocolate syrup may be canned using a water bath, and does not require a pressure canner, making this a pretty easy storage method. If you follow proper canning procedures, canned chocolate syrup will stay shelf stable for up to a year, and will retain its taste and texture.