Does chocolate, in fact, go bad?
We’ve all been there. On a bad day, you look for something sweet, and you find some chocolate to console you in the back of the cupboard or in the secret candy stash, and you ask yourself – is it still good to eat? Should you throw it out or devour it in one bite?
The bravest of us would shrug their shoulders and take a bite anyway, with the possibility of food poisoning not even dawning on them. But if you’re worried about that sort of thing, we can help you determine whether you shall eat it, or it’s time to go shopping for sweets.
If you don’t eat it in time labeled on the packaging, and you’re not sure you’d eat it now – we suggest putting it in some cookies or making hot fudge. Don’t let the slight changes in the appearance or taste of your delicious chocolate bar stop you, it’s still perfectly good to eat.
The general rule of thumb, in this case, is the date labeled on the packaging, but if you are determined to savor your favorite dessert, continue reading this article to make sure it’s perfectly safe to do so and to find out does chocolate go bad…
What Is Chocolate Made Of?
Chocolate is made of cocoa beans. Cocoa beans have to be dried off and roasted and after finishing that process, bean shells are opened to reveal the nibs, which are ground to make cocoa liquor, refined liquid chocolate.
Cocoa liquor is then mixed with cocoa butter in different volumes to create chocolate bars as we know them. This mixture will create dark chocolate (with the addition of sugar and some vanilla, perhaps). Milk chocolate will be generated with the addition of, obviously, milk or milk powder. What’s interesting about making white chocolate is that most of the ingredients are the same as dark or milk chocolate, with the exception of chocolate liquor.
What makes the chocolate’s signature texture is the process of conching (a process in which the ingredients are ground with metal beads), which makes ingredients smaller in volume. Higher quality and silky smooth texture of the product is achieved by prolonged processing of the ingredients.
See Also: Does Butter Go Bad?
How Long Does Chocolate Last?
We have some good news for you – chocolate, in reality, does not have an expiration date. Chocolate only has a best-by date, and that is just a measure of time before the product can experience changes in quality or appearance. After the best-by date passes, the company that manufactured this product cannot promise the same quality as before the specified date.
Keep in mind that this sweet delicacy’s quality will decline over time. So make sure to eat it in the first month or so post-production, as it tastes best at that time. On the other hand, don’t let the labeled date stop you from gobbling it down. Frankly, whether or not your cocoa sweets are edible is entirely up to you – if it looks and tastes fine to you, you should most definitely eat it up.
Chocolate will taste the same for a while after the best-before date, and that while varies on the type of chocolate. White and milk chocolates are expected to have the same flavor for 2-4 months after the date on the packaging, and dark chocolates are expected to stay the same for around 12 months. The reason behind this is milk and sugar content, which dark chocolate lacks, therefore it lasts longer (this can be useful if you like to buy chocolate in bulk, we know we do).
Does Chocolate Go Bad?
Food goes bad because of water content. Water makes a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi growth. Thankfully, chocolate does not contain water and because of that, chocolate can’t actually go bad. Don’t be bothered if white spots appear on the surface after a while, those are just fat or sugar blooms and are not dangerous for human health.
Sugar blooms appear because the bar has been exposed to some sort of moisture or humidity (this only happens at home, never during production), or has been left in the fridge for too long, and fat blooms surface on the chocolate because of temperature fluctuations. Fat blooms will only influence the texture but not the flavor. If this repels you in any way, melting the chocolate will get rid of either fat or sugar blooms and restore the previously known, glossy appearance.
Something important to remember: chocolate is fine to eat long past its best-by date, but if the chocolate in question contains nuts or fruit, that is no longer the case. Nuts become rancid or stale over time – rancidity is lipid oxidation, and that means the fats in nuts degrade in quality and become foul.
You should never eat a nut-containing chocolate if it tastes bitter or sour: your best bet is to get rid of it. It would be best if you checked the chocolate thoroughly first to make sure it’s not spoiled. Does chocolate go bad? No, but chocolate with nuts, for example, does!
How To Store Your Favorite Chocolate Treats
First of all, correctly stored chocolate goods won’t go bad. Something you should keep in mind is that you should always store it unopened, in a dark and cool place, prescribed as per label. Make sure that the cupboard where you plan to store your sweets isn’t damp or moldy, it’s supposed to be completely dry.
The temperature should be around 65°F, well above fridge temperature. The refrigerator is too cold for chocolate, and the cold air will create those pesky white spots mentioned earlier.
Opened chocolate bars would be best wrapped in foil and closed in an airtight container to prevent any external influence over the sweets.
If you absolutely have to store chocolate in the fridge, keep it sealed in a box or zip bag, as chocolate can soak up smells from its surroundings because of high-fat presence, and nobody wants a dessert with just a kick of leftover lunch!
Best Ways To Tell If Your Chocolate Has Gone Bad
The first step is to open it and examine it closely. If there is any sight of mold, just throw it out immediately (and check out the pantry for mold, too, while you’re at it).
If you can recognize white spots on your chocolate bar, as we said, don’t be alarmed, your beloved candy is still in good shape. If you feel like throwing it in the trash nevertheless, consider using this chocolate for making dessert instead – we suggest this mouthwatering brownie. You can easily get rid of those spots by melting the chocolate and letting it turn back to solid.
The next step is to smell it – if it smells a tad different, yet it still smells like chocolate, that needn’t worry you – it’s still up to date. As previously mentioned, chocolate can absorb smells from nearby foods like onions or garlic, and that can affect its smell, as well. The only thing that should put you off is the putrid smell.
If your chocolate looks fine and smells fine as well, but you’re still not sure about digesting it, we recommend taking a small bite. Old chocolate can taste a little off, but if it tastes bitter, or just repugnant, we repeat – throw it out. In opposition, if you feel it tastes up to par, sit back, relax, and take delight in your cocoa delicacies…
Read More: Can You Freeze Brownies?
A simple mixture of a few ingredients: cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and possibly some milk and sugar can foster gluttony in all of us. Chocolate is not just a source of energy for some people, it is able to round up a perfect meal, or it can be a source of comfort on a rainy day.
In a perfect world, chocolate lasts forever and never spoils, it’s always there for you. So, does chocolate go bad? It most definitely doesn’t!
If you’re concerned your favorite sugary consolation might be out to make you sick anyway, don’t be. Chocolate kept as advised can last you a long time. This sweet delight doesn’t turn foul easily. White discolorations are not a hindrance to anything but the aesthetics of your cherished late-night.
Nevertheless, any sight of fungi is a warning sign and you should on no account eat this chocolate! Mold will give you a stomachache, and nobody wants that.
To enjoy your favorite snack, there are a few particular details to call to mind: carefully look at it, then smell it, and if everything seems satisfactory until now, savor a bit to confirm. If everything seems fine by this point, rest assured, and don’t hesitate to munch it down.