I like chocolate and would like to keep a bit around for an occasional treat for the family and myself. I have found quite a bit of controversy on the subject of storing chocolate.
Everybody seems to agree to the following. Chocolate should be stored in a slightly cool, dry, dark place. The perfect temperature is 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, with low humidity (less than 50 percent), and stored away from any other foods or substances with strong odors that could be absorbed by the chocolate.
Frequent exposure to high temperatures can cause the cocoa butter in chocolate to bloom or rise to the surface. Bloom is an unpleasant cloudy gray color. Bloom does not seem to have a major effect on the taste and will normally disappear if the chocolate is melted. However, white chocolate can go rancid when exposed to strong light, or heat. The shelf life of most milk chocolate is one year; for most dark chocolate, it’s two years.
Here is what Hershey’s has to say about how to store chocolate.
Q. How should I store chocolate?
A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.
Even if the taste or texture changes some, it could be used for baking.
Q. How long should I keep chocolate?
A. Most confectionery products are at their best flavor for one year after manufacture. Ingredients such as nuts will shorten the shelf life. Products kept beyond recommended “best before” date may have flavor loss or texture changes. Keep in mind, however, that storage conditions greatly affect the quality of our products.
Q.My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?
A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom. Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom. Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed
Now comes the controversial part. How you can extend the shelf live by, vacuum sealing, refrigeration or freezing.
I have found several references to vacuum sealing chocolate but no definitive tests. In several blogs, there are anecdotal stories of people sealing chocolate chips in mason jars with a food saver for long periods of time. My wife currently has several jars of chocolate chips sealed in this manner. They are now several months old and seem to be holding up well. She is keeping track of the dates so that we can provide you with the information on when they start to deteriorate.
Freezing and refrigeration is another controversial area. Hershey advises against it, others say it can be done. The best advice seems to be, to freeze or refrigerate the chocolate in an airtight container, and do not remove it from its container until it has been slowly brought up to room temperature, to prevent condensation from forming on the chocolate.
We are experimenting with freezing and vacuum sealing chocolate and will let you know the results.