Quick summary: Yes, chocolate can go bad, but whether it makes you sick depends on the type. Different types of chocolate have varying shelf lives. Signs of spoilage include white spots or gray discoloration, a moldy smell, or foreign formations.
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 eat chocolate 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 of dark chocolate 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.
Baking chocolate or chocolate chips will have the same long shelf life as the previously mentioned dark chocolate bars. This is because of the higher percentage of cocoa butter, and there are no additional fillings or significant milk content. White chocolate chips are no exception. Even if they have less cocoa fat, they have enough sugar to keep it safe.
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 products life. However, the duration will still be up to two years in proper conditions. Most chocolate 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?
Chocolate bars 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 chocolate has gone bad.
Sign 1: White spots or gray appeared
This is actually a common occurrence, especially if you keep the chocolate in a warmer place. It’s called chocolate bloom. As a rule, this means that the butter has probably come to the surface. Then it is fat bloom. But it can happen with sugar as well. Naturally, it’s specified as sugar bloom. 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: Chocolate smells moldy and taste is 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 chocolate bar because harmful bacteria may have developed in it. Stale chocolate has a bit dull smell but is not rotten.
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. All these signs will be visible in cocoa powder as well, especially the bad smell, so you won’t miss it.
Which is the Best Way to Store Chocolate?
With proper ways of storing chocolate, you can significantly extend the shelf life of every 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 the sweet truth on 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. So, keep in a cool and dry place.
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. Also, try to keep leftovers in an airtight container or at least sealed well in the original packaging.
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.
Can you still eat expired chocolate?
Yes, you can eat expired chocolate. Most chocolates will be perfectly correct even after the expiration date. Proper chocolate storage can significantly affect its lifespan.
Can old chocolate make you sick?
No, old chocolate is not likely to make you sick, but its quality might be compromised.
Does chocolate go bad when it turns white?
No, chocolate turning white (chocolate bloom) doesn’t necessarily mean it has gone bad. It’s a sign of fat or sugar crystals rising to the surface due to temperature changes, affecting appearance and texture but not necessarily safety for consumption.
Can you save old chocolate?
Yes, you can still consume old chocolate if it has only experienced minor changes like blooming or texture alteration. However, for the best taste and quality, it’s advisable to use it in recipes rather than consuming it on its own.
Can you eat 10 year old chocolate?
Yes, you can eat 10-year-old chocolate, but its quality and flavor might have declined over time.
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. Anyhow it’s best to eat chocolate fresh, so there’s a good reason not to delay it.
See more: Does Cocoa Powder Go Bad?