So you lucked out and found a bag of forgotten chocolate in your cupboard. Now what? Should you eat it? Is it still good even though it developed a white coating? How long does chocolate actually last?
Naturally, you wouldn’t want to discard chocolate if it’s still edible. Here are some ways to tell if your sweet treat may still be good:
Check the ‘sell by date’
Chocolate doesn’t have an official expiration date but it does have a sell by date. This guarantees the product will remain in fine form until the specified date.
In most cases it is perfectly fine to eat chocolate past the sell by date depending on how it was stored, according to Eat By Date, a consumer advocacy website dedicated to the shelf life of food.
How was the chocolate stored?
Was the chocolate stored in a sealed bag or airtight container. Air will help the essential oils in chocolate oxidise quicker. Properly stored chocolate kept in a cool dark place will keep longer.
What is the chocolate's appearance?
Over time chocolate may change in appearance and develop a thick white film but it is still perfectly edible. Of course, a taste test is the only way to tell if the flavour has been affected.
Worst case scenario you can use the chocolate for baking instead. If that's the case give these delectable chocolate recipes a try.
What type of chocolate is it?
Each variety of chocolate has different guidelines. For instance, dark chocolate stays fresh longer than milk chocolate and white chocolate. That's due in large part to its higher content of cacao, which is naturally rich in antioxidants.
Consult this helpful chart to know how long chocolate lasts:
Other tips and tricks for storing chocolate
Most of us probably don’t run up against the question of how to best store chocolate very often; the chocolate is gone long before the issue arises. But if you have titanium-alloy self-restraint or buy chocolate in industrial quantities, there are a few ways to make sure it stays fresh and flavourful for as long as possible.
Chocolate’s three mortal enemies are air, light, and heat. As mentioned above, chocolate stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, is going to fare much better than a bar set out on a sunlit counter. That’s just common sense. But other tips may be less obvious:
Don’t store chocolate in the refrigerator. It can take on the odours and flavours of other foods stored there.
Even artificial light can negatively affect chocolate’s flavour, so avoid all kinds of light when storing chocolate.
If you have to store chocolate for very long periods of time, it can be frozen (though this is not ideal. See the first bullet). Chill it progressively by moving it first to the fridge, then the freezer. To thaw it, reverse the same gradual process.