We bring you all the most essential information about the shelf life of this favorite delicacy around the world. Find out how long it is good for and how to properly store chocolate.
If you’re a chocolate lover, there’s no way you haven’t at least once in your life come across an old bar somewhere in the pantry and wondered if something bad would happen to you if you ate it anyway. We all have some of this cocoa treat at home. And it’s usually the number one choice when you want to give someone a small gift. So it’s no wonder to misplace it somewhere in the kitchen often.
We’re used to chocolate being able to be on our shelves for a long time, but how long does it actually last? And can it spoil at all? Well, yes and no, the question is complicated. It depends on what kind of chocolate you have in front of you. In short, a classic cocoa bar won’t spoil in the sense of making you sick. All fillings and flavors could cause damage, however.
How Long Does Chocolate Last?
There are surely thousands of types of chocolate on the market, so it’s hard to give a credible general sense of how long they can last on the shelf. Each manufacturer has put a shelf life on the product according to the production process. Yet for most classic chocolates, those without filling and exotic additives, that date will be more of a best-by guideline than actual shelf life. Here are a few expected durations depending on the product category.
Dark chocolate and with a high cocoa percentage
These are the most resistant types of chocolate. High share of cocoa butter guarantees that the product will resist bacteria for a very long time. As a rule, such bars can last at least two, often three years. But if you have had them longer than that, and you have kept them in a suitable place and conditions, you will most likely have a tasty and suitable product to consume.
Milk chocolate with less cocoa content
Here, along with cocoa butter, the product contains a higher proportion of milk powder and other ingredients, which can shorten the shelf life. However, the duration will still be up to two years in proper conditions. It can last even a little longer, but we wouldn’t count on it for sure.
White chocolate and the one with the fillings
White chocolate doesn’t actually contain any percentage of cocoa, at least not commonly. That’s why it can’t last very long. Equally different fillings and additives shorten the durability by their presence. For all of them within this category, the recommendation is that they last for six months, possibly up to a year.
Can Chocolate Go Bad?
It will undoubtedly expire after a certain number of years, but some varieties will only taste worse. In contrast, others will be completely inedible and will probably cause you food poisoning.
So how long is chocolate good for? Here’s what changes can happen and how to recognize that a product has expired.
Sign 1: White spots or gray appeared
This is actually a common occurrence, especially if you keep the chocolate in a warmer place. As a rule, this means that the butter has probably come to the surface. The ingredients have partially separated inside the chocolate, and it is no longer as compact as it was initially.
For dark chocolates without filling, this does not mean that they are not edible. In fact, they are suitable for consumption. It is only possible that the taste is somewhat distorted.
Sign 2: The smell and taste are dubious
It is possible for an unpleasant odor to appear or for the taste to be sour. This means that you should definitely throw away the product because harmful bacteria may have developed in it.
Sign 3: Foreign formations appeared on the product
Mainly if the chocolate contains some fillings with a higher proportion of water, fruit, and something like that, mold may appear on it. Also, worms can occur as well. Altogether, of course, you need to throw it in the trash.
Which is the Best Way to Store Chocolate?
With proper storage, you can significantly extend the shelf life of chocolate. Especially if it is of good quality with a high cocoa content. This way, you can use it long after it expires. Here’s how to help keep your favorite treat stable.
Tip 1: Keep it away from the sun
In fact, any heat source will be fatal to chocolate. Except it will melt, so it won’t be fine to eat, ingredients, especially butter, will separate in it. It indeed impairs stability as well as durability.
Tip 2: Try to keep it unopened
No matter how much you like different types of chocolate, it is always better to eat them one by one. It won’t be good if you open the package and then leave it to stand for months.
Tip 3: Do not keep it in the refrigerator
You should only put the chocolate you opened in the fridge for a short time or if it is sweltering outside. Otherwise, it is better to keep unopened chocolate in the pantry or a cooler place in the kitchen. The refrigerator can adversely affect the ingredients, so often, the appearance of white spots is even accelerated.
Yes, of course. Most chocolates will be perfectly correct even after the expiration date.
You will notice signs like sour taste, bad smell, or mold if the chocolate is faulty. In other cases, when it seems okay, you will most often not get food poisoning.
It is a sign of sugar or fat blooming and, normally, does not mean that it is spoiled. However, the taste may be a little strange.
You don’t necessarily have to throw away old chocolate. You can use it to prepare cakes or hot chocolate, and it will be pretty fine.
Composed of cocoa butter and sugar with a very low presence of moisture, chocolate has an excellent predisposition to last a long time. Keep it in a cool place, and you will be able to store it for years. However, if it’s mixed like chocolate with a filling or other perishable additives, even hazelnuts, you’d better stick to the verified expiration date listed on the wrapper.