Everyone likes getting tasty chocolate confections and vegan chocolate bars as gifts, especially when they’re your favorite type of fudgy dark chocolate or creamy oat milk chocolate. Though you enjoy the snacking experience and the craft chocolate flavor, sometimes you can’t keep up with all the chocolate gift boxes or quality baking chocolate in your pantry or cupboard! So, does chocolate expire? If you have your chocolate for a while, how do you know when it actually goes bad?
If you want to keep your TCHO chocolate lasting for as long as possible, we’ll give you the best tips for chocolate storage. Let us teach you how to preserve your chocolate and when it’s time to throw your treats out. Discover how to keep chocolate fresh and when to swap out your older products for new chocolate bars and baking essentials. Soon, you’ll be an expert in enjoying your favorite treats. As a bonus, you’ll make your tastiest dessert recipes last longer!
The Shelf-Stable Ingredients in Chocolate
Before we learn more about food expiration dates and whether chocolate truly goes bad, it’s helpful to understand more about the primary ingredients in chocolate. No matter what, dark chocolate always includes cacao beans and creamy cocoa butter. To sweeten the cacao, you add cane sugar. All three of these ingredients are shelf-stable. So while they may lose their flavor, they won’t spoil.
When manufacturing milk chocolate or white chocolate bars instead of dark chocolate, the recipe will likely include some type of dairy milk products or plant-based milk substitutes. Additional ingredients like vanilla beans or coconut oil can be added for a creamy consistency and delicious flavor.
Many products that flavor your favorite dark chocolate bars and other craft chocolate recipes contain ingredients that won’t go bad. However, after a while they may taste “old” or “off.”
Preserving Your TCHO Chocolate
Keeping chocolate fresh for longer starts with a quality sourcing and manufacturing process. At TCHO, we always use high-quality and responsibly sourced organic ingredients to make our delicious plant-based chocolate bars and baking chocolate. From our responsibly sourced cacao beans to our organic cocoa butter and cane sugar, we ensure that we start with exceptional chocolate flavor and that our products keep your treats tasting amazing for as long as possible.
Sometimes you will use your TCHO chocolate baking discs or bits of chopped chocolate bars to make baked goods or dessert treats. These recipes may include perishable ingredients like eggs or liquid dairy milk, so follow instructions for their safety and shelf stability. When baking or cooking in the kitchen, keep an eye on expiration dates for recipe ingredients that do spoil, such as eggs and dairy products.
Understanding Food Expiration Dates
By now, you probably know there’s a difference between food “expiration dates” and “sell by” dates. There’s also a distinction between products being past their peak freshness and food spoiling or “going bad.” Still, it’s essential to be informed about the latest food safety standards to make the best choices for yourself.
Some labels on your favorite food products include “use by” or “best by” dates. These are not safety dates but instead tell consumers how long the food will remain of the highest quality. After the “sell by” date, your food product may not have the perfect color or flavor. It probably won’t be as good as the first day you opened the package, but it’s still likely safe to eat if you’re hungry. Always inspect your food products for quality before you use them in a chocolate recipe. Now that you understand what these labels mean, let’s discuss the signs of spoilage in food products and how they pertain to chocolate.
What Type of Food Spoils?
We love that dark chocolate in its purest form doesn’t really spoil. However, some other ingredients in your chocolate recipes will go bad quickly. It’s essential to store and handle all food properly, so nothing becomes unsafe to eat. Watch the condition of the fruits and vegetables you include in your recipes, whether you leave them out or place them in the refrigerator to help them last longer.
How to Know if Your Dessert or Baked Good Is Spoiled
No one wants to contribute to the problem of food waste, which is why it’s essential to understand the labeling of chocolate and other food products. For safety purposes, it’s also critical to know if the food you’re about to eat is spoiled.
These are some of the most reliable signs that food is spoiled. However, you may notice more indications that you should skip a product. While you probably won’t see most of these signs of food spoilage on chocolate, you could notice it on desserts and other treats that use TCHO chocolate as an ingredient. For example, if your chocolate bread starts to grow white mold on its surface, it’s probably time to toss it out and make a new loaf instead. Everyone is a scientist in the kitchen, so keep track of when you notice that your favorite foods start to go bad. Once you become an expert on your favorite ingredients, you’ll know when to get them to the trash so you can find something more flavorful to enjoy.
When to Skip Your Chocolate Bar (for Quality Purposes)
If the chocolate bar or dessert product doesn’t seem good enough to eat, we recommend skipping it. Your chocolate may not “go bad” or spoil, but it could appear a different color or texture than before. Your chocolate may include a “sell by” or “best by” date. If you notice that this date is coming up quickly, go ahead and do an inspection of the product. If it doesn’t look the same as when you first opened it, it’s time to grab the next bag of chocolate discs or another chocolate bar.
How to Keep Your Chocolate Fresh
Older chocolate may not be a cause for an emergency, but it is something you want to keep an eye on. Ask any experienced baker or confectioner, and they’ll tell you that proper chocolate storage is essential for ensuring your bars and baking items stay fresh and tasty for as long as possible. After all, even quality plant-based chocolate is susceptible to losing its peak freshness and flavor. Here’s what to do to keep your chocolate fresh:
- Store in a cool place: The ideal temperature keeps your chocolate bars and baking essentials shelf stable. The chocolate may melt or lose its original flavor when exposed to high heat. The ideal temperature for chocolate storage is between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should also be fine if your home or kitchen stays between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- It should also be dry: High humidity levels can lead to melting or loss of flavor. The ideal humidity for chocolate is less than 55 percent, which helps the cocoa butter and cocoa solids to remain stable.
- Keep it in an airtight container: An airtight vessel will protect your chocolate from humidity and moisture. It also prevents oxygen from entering the container and altering the fudgy chocolate flavor.
A combination of quality chocolate and following proper storage instructions will ensure your chocolate bars and baking products stay fresher for longer. Proper storage lets you enjoy your recipes and chocolate gifts for more time. It can also help you save money.
What Not to Do with Your Chocolate (Chocolate Don’ts)
While you have the best intentions for your oat milk chocolate and dark chocolate bars, there’s a chance that you’re storing them the wrong way. Now that you know what to do with your plant-based treats, here are the storing don’ts:
- Don’t store it in the fridge: The consistency of cold chocolate can be delightful, but you shouldn’t keep it in the refrigerator for any length of time. The moisture and condensation in your fridge can cause the sugars in the chocolate to rise to the surface. This turns the bar a white, milky color also known as sugar bloom or chocolate bloom. While sugar bloom is safe to eat and doesn’t mean it’s expired, it may not look as shiny and fresh as when it was freshly tempered.
- Don’t expose it to other food: Keeping chocolate in the fridge also means it can absorb odors from nearby food. No one wants to combine leftovers with their chocolate confections, so if you must put it in the fridge for any period be sure you wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Once it’s in foil, place it in an airtight container. Allow it to return to its normal room temperature before you eat it or use it for cooking or baking.
- Don’t put it in the freezer: Freezing temperatures only amplify the issues we have with storing chocolate in the refrigerator. If you freeze your chocolate, there’s a good chance you’ll experience unpleasant changes in taste and color. It’s also possible that your chocolate absorbs the flavor of other products.
- Don’t place it in direct sunlight: Chocolate doesn’t stand up well to high temperatures, so it’s a good idea to keep it out of the sun. Also, avoid melting and changes in flavor.
Enjoying Chocolate of the Highest Quality
It’s good news that your chocolate won’t expire or spoil after a short time. However, even the best-tasting chocolate bar can lose its flavor and texture if you don’t store it properly. When you first get your TCHO chocolate bars or chocolate gift boxes, be sure to keep them in the packaging until you’re ready to eat them or use them in a dessert recipe. Once you open them, use them as quickly as possible to avoid issues with freshness in the future.
If you use a bit of a chocolate bar or only some baking chocolate, keep the product sealed airtight. This may involve carefully closing the bag of chocolate baking discs or placing dark chocolate bars in another airtight container. If you’re giving TCHO chocolate to a friend, be sure to let them know about the best way to keep their products fresh. Whether they’re into our baking essentials or eating our truffle-filled dark chocolate bars, they’ll appreciate that you’re preserving the most delicious chocolate around.