Chocolate is an incredibly popular treat that many people keep as a pantry staple for baking and to eat on its own. It's also a popular gift, but no one wants it to melt before it's even opened! While all types of chocolate have a pretty long shelf life, it can still spoil if stored improperly, especially over long periods of time. Certain conditions, like a heat wave, can cause it to spoil or bloom. Find out the best ways to store your stash of chocolate to make sure it's ready for the next time you have a craving.
How to Store
Ideally, chocolate should be stored in a slightly cool, dry, dark place, preferably a consistent 60 to 70 F. It's also best for chocolate to be stored somewhere with less than 50 percent humidity to avoid any risk of condensation, as water can cause chocolate to spoil. One lesser-known danger is strong odors, as chocolate can absorb the odor and therefore some of the flavors of other foods.
How Heat Affects Chocolate
If your chocolate has melted, this doesn't necessarily mean it's spoiled. While melted chocolate can be messy, it can usually still be saved. Once the chocolate cools, it will usually taste the same, even if it's lost its shape. However, frequent exposure to high temperatures can cause the cocoa butter in chocolate to rise to the surface, creating bloom, or a cloudy gray layer on the outside. While it's safe to eat bloomed chocolate, it doesn't always have the best flavor. This is a superficial flaw that can be corrected by melting and properly tempering the chocolate, as long as there aren't any fillings that will get in the way. In addition to blooming, white chocolate can go rancid when exposed to strong light, which will greatly affect the flavor and quality of the chocolate.
Tips for Warm Climates
If you live in an extremely warm area and do not have air conditioning, you may need to keep your chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent it from melting. To freeze the chocolate, place it in an airtight container, and do not remove it from its container until it has been brought up to room temperature, which will prevent condensation from forming on the chocolate. Water droplets will prevent the chocolate from melting smoothly and might affect the texture of the melted chocolate. If you don't want to wait until it's reached room temperature, there's nothing wrong with having a nice cold treat!