Ah, chocolate, the classic confection. It’s hard to resist the temptation when chocolate is around, and it usually gets eaten pretty quickly as a result. However, what if you were to leave a piece of chocolate uneaten for six months, or a year, or two years? Would your chocolate go bad? What would even happen to it?
Chocolate can eventually go bad, but this depends on how the chocolate is stored as well as the type of chocolate you have. If your chocolate is stored correctly and doesn’t contain any perishable ingredients, it can remain good and retain its flavor for years after the expiry date.
Let’s go over what exactly happens to chocolate when you let it sit for an extended period of time, and we’ll also show you how to store your chocolate to help it last as long as possible.
Does Chocolate Ever Actually Go Bad?
We just mentioned that chocolate does eventually go bad, but in actual fact, this is not technically the case. Chocolate consists of two main ingredients; cocoa solids, and cocoa butter. which are both very shelf-stable and can take years to go rancid.
It’s the other ingredients in chocolate that put it at a greater risk of going bad. If there’s a lot of dairy or other perishable ingredients like nuts and caramel that have been added to the chocolate, it’s more likely that it’ll turn rancid at some point.
The expiration date on chocolate isn’t an indicator of when the chocolate will go bad as such; rather, it indicates the point at which the chocolate starts to decline in quality. When this happens, your chocolate might look and taste ever so slightly different, but it should still be fine to eat.
If your chocolate actually has gone bad, you will probably be able to tell by the smell and taste. If it smells musty or moldy and it tastes noticeably off when you try it, it’s a sign that it’s time to pitch your chocolate.
Recipe: Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha
What’s the White Stuff On My Chocolate?
If you’ve just unwrapped a piece of old chocolate, you might find that it’s covered in a weird, whitish substance. Your first thought may be that your chocolate has gone mouldy, but fear not! The white stuff is actually called “bloom”, and your chocolate is still totally safe to eat even if it’s bloomed.
So what is bloom, exactly? In short, blooming is when one of the ingredients in the chocolate starts to separate from the rest of the chocolate. There are two types of blooming that can occur; fat blooming and sugar blooming.
Fat blooming happens when the molecular structure of the chocolate starts to break down, which causes the fats inside the chocolate to rise to the surface. When this happens, the texture of the chocolate might change slightly, but the flavor should remain pretty much the same.
Sugar bloom, on the other hand, occurs when chocolate is exposed to moisture. Moisture dissolves the sugar crystals that would otherwise be distributed evenly throughout the chocolate and causes the crystals to once again rise to the surface. You’re far more likely to encounter sugar blooming if you leave your chocolate out unwrapped.
With enough time, all chocolate will bloom eventually, even if you take care to store it well. If you really don’t want to eat bloomed chocolate, consider using it in a recipe or to make hot chocolate; once the chocolate is melted down and added to other ingredients, you won’t notice the difference.
Also See: Does hummus go bad?
How Long Does Chocolate Last?
This depends on a few variables; the type of chocolate, the quality of the chocolate, and how it’s stored. For the sake of the argument though, let’s assume that you’re comparing several types of chocolate of equal quality that have been stored the same way.
In general, though, the higher the dairy content of the chocolate, the sooner it will go bad. Here’s how the various types of chocolate stack up against each other in terms of shelf stability:
- White chocolate has the shortest lifespan of all types of chocolate, due to the fact that white chocolate contains a ton of cream and butter. An unopened package of white chocolate will be good for about six months, while opened white chocolate will probably be good for about four months.
- Milk chocolate also contains a fair amount of dairy, but it has less than white chocolate which helps it last a bit longer. Unopened milk chocolate will be good for about a year if you store it right, while opened milk chocolate will keep for about 8-10 months.
- Dark chocolate contains the least dairy of all types of chocolate and is, therefore, the longest-lasting variety. Unopened dark chocolate should be good for at least a couple of years after you buy it, and even opened dark chocolate will remain edible after a year.
It’s worth mentioning that this is how long you can expect your chocolate to last on average, but if you store it really well your chocolate may remain edible for years on end.
What’s the Best Way to Store Chocolate?
The best way to store chocolate is to leave it wrapped if you can, and to keep it in a cool, dry place that is protected from direct sunlight. Heat and moisture are the two biggest factors that make chocolate go bad, so for your chocolate’s sake, you’ll want to avoid these things at all costs.
Some people suggest storing your chocolate in the fridge or freezer if you plan to keep it for a long time, but in many cases, this is not the ideal place for it. Your fridge contains a lot of moisture, so if you are going to store your chocolate there, you have to make sure that it’s sealed up extra tight against the elements.
In addition, quick changes to your chocolate’s temperature can mess up the fat structure and cause it to bloom and have a weird texture. Chocolate stored in the freezer can also get freezer burnt, which will make it a lot more crumbly and difficult to eat.
Related: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Recipes
Can you still eat expired chocolate?
Yes you can eat chocolate after its best before date and it is still safe to eat.
Can you eat chocolate 2 years out of date?
Chocolate can still be eaten beyond its date of expiration, providing it has been stored correctly and unopened.
How can you tell if chocolate is bad?
If you see your chocolate is dried out and is displaying cracks, it is likely that your chocolate has gone bad. If it has been left open you might see mold and this is a sign you should throw out your chocolate.