How long can molded chocolate be stored? (with few storage tips)
In this brief guide, we will answer ‘how long can molded chocolate be stored?’ Also, we will discuss some common storage mistakes and how they can be avoided. Also, some tips to keep molded chocolate fresh for a long time are also mentioned.
How long can molded chocolate be stored?
Molded chocolate can be stored for up to 6 months if stored under optimal conditions, at 40°C, vacuum packed (4). However, the shelf life strongly depends on its storage conditions, such as temperature, air moisture and temperature fluctuations during storage (1).
Other factors that influence the shelf life of chocolate pralines are the composition of the final product (fillings, coatings) and the quality of the raw materials (4).
Does molded chocolate have a shorter shelf life than chocolate bars?
Molded chocolates, or pralines, have shorter shelf lives than chocolate bars. The reasons for this is that, by confectioning filled chocolate, the use of perishable raw materials and physical changes during processing make them more susceptible to chemical changes during storage.
For example, differences of moisture or fat concentration between coating and filling causes moisture / fat migrations within the product, leading to possible changes in flavor or color. In general, chocolate fillings are also more prone to spoilage by microorganisms able to grow at a low water activity, like osmophilic yeasts (4).
Homemade molded chocolate are even more sensitive and can deteriorate even faster than industrialized pralines, as they have been handled, which introduces many forms of microbial contamination to the product.
Should chocolate be refrigerated?
Chocolate is not supposed to be refrigerated as temperature changes and humidity can alter the structure of chocolate. It is suggested to refrigerate if it is absolutely necessary like you live in a tropical environment with no air conditioning. However, it may be the best way to store molded chocolate, when a moisture free/ oxygen free environment is possible, such as in a vacuum packed product.
In a study, chocolate stored at a high temperature (30 °C) caused the most negative sensorial changes on the samples: they were harder, more fracturable, more tooth packing, had a longer melt time, less sweet taste, and less cream flavor. Temperature fluctuations also cause negative changes in the cocoa butter crystals polymorphs, because of the melting and crystallization of the different fat structures (2).
What happens if chocolate is poorly stored?
When poorly stored, chocolate can suffer fat bloom or sugar bloom, or even be soiled by fungi. Chocolate bloom results when either the cocoa butter or the sugar has separated from the other ingredients and rises to the surface. This results due to improper tempering or inadequate storage. Although your chocolate is still safe to consume, there might be a slight difference in the textural and flavor profile of the chocolate.
The crystallization of fat on the surface of the chocolate is referred to as fat bloom and it can happen when chocolate is forced to cool during tempering. In the case o a well-tempered chocolate stored under standard storage conditions, the cocoa butter form transforms itself into other forms, which may be responsible for bloom in chocolates stored under cool ambient conditions (1).
Sugar bloom, or the crystallization of sugar, on the surface of chocolate products is caused by moisture absorption on the surface.
Microbial spoilage occurs by growth of microorganisms tolerating low water activity, such as xerophilic fungi, and bacteria that are able to grow in food with a high sugar concentration, causing off-flavors and slime formation (4).
How long can chocolate last?
A well-tempered and high-quality chocolate bar will last up to a year if it is stored in a cool, dark and dry place. However, if your chocolate bar has some other ingredients added in like, cream, butter, dry fruits and nuts, etc. therefore, it is advised to refer to the packaging for ‘Best before’ or ‘Best buy’ date for optimal flavor, texture and quality.
The shelf life of typical chocolate products are listed below (1):
|Typical shelf life at temperate conditions||Months|
|Milk chocolate bar||16|
|White chocolate bar||16|
|Milk chocolate-coated peanuts||12|
|Chocolate bars with raisins||12|
|Chocolate shells with soft caramel||12|
|Chocolate shells with praline||12|
Common storage mistakes and how to avoid them
Following are some common storage mistakes we often do;
Storing chocolate along with some other smelly food item in the refrigerator – chocolates easily absorb odors from whatever is near them, whether it is an onion, garlic or even your lamb roast.
Storing chocolate in the refrigerator – moisture inside the fridge can lead to sugar bloom, sugar rises to the surface and discolors the chocolate as a white cast. The choice of correct packaging is vital to minimize moisture transfer between product and the environment (1).
Instead, store in a cool dry place at a temperature below 70 degrees F (ideally between 65 to 68 degrees F) at a humidity level of less than 55%. At this temperature, the emulsion of cocoa solids and cocoa butter stay stable for months.
Sometimes even storing in a cool and dry place can also leave you with smelly chocolate – as cocoa butter tends to pick up the smell of whatever is around them.
Instead, store in an airtight container – this will block out all external factors and all you’ll be left with is the oxygen inside the container. However, this oxygen may lead to the development of bad flavoring compounds as the fats of chocolate will start oxidizing.
Keep them away for light – not just sunlight but artificial light too. This light will lead to photooxidation of the fats in chocolate which again will result in some bad flavoring compounds.
Sometimes refrigeration is a must – especially in summer when you don’t have access to air conditioners. Just tightly wrap your chocolate to protect against odors and condensation and seal it in an airtight container. Just let your chocolate come back to room temperature before eating. This way the chocolate may last you 3 to 4 months.
Filled chocolate especially that has dairy like cream or butter in it also needs to be refrigerated.
For longer shelf life, you may freeze the chocolate too. All you need to do is wrap your chocolate and seal it in an airtight container. Place the container in the fridge for at least 2 to 6 hours then transfer that container to the freezer. This prevents any thermal shock and helps in keeping the textural properties.
Before using it, just reverse the process. Take out from the freezer and place the container in the fridge for 24 hours. After that remove it from the fridge and let it come back to room temperature and then enjoy.
It is important to know that the nutritional benefits brought by chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be lost after a long time of storage. A decrease on the antioxidant activity and vitamin content are expected, as well as negative changes on the sensorial aspects of the chocolate (3).
The presence of antioxidants in the cocoa liquor is said to reduce the susceptibility of plain and milk chocolate to oxidative rancidity. The lack of these naturally present antioxidants in white chocolate makes it prone to rancidity and very sensitive to light, thus giving a shorter shelf life relative to that of milk and plain chocolates (1).
In this brief guide, we answered ‘how long can molded chocolate be stored?’ Also, we have discussed some common storage mistakes and how they can be avoided. Also, some tips to keep molded chocolate fresh for a long period are also mentioned.
Hopefully, you found this guide helpful and informative. In case of any queries or comments, please do let us know.
- Subramaniam, P. The stability and shelf life of confectionery products. The Stability and Shelf Life of Food. Woodhead Publishing, 2016. 545-573
- Nightingale LM, Lee SY, Engeseth NJ. Impact of storage on dark chocolate: texture and polymorphic changes. J Food Sci, 2011, 1, 142-53
- Roda, Arianna, and Milena Lambri. Changes in antioxidants and sensory properties of italian chocolates and related ingredients under controlled conditions during an eighteen-month storage period. Nutrients, 20190, 11, 2719.
- Dias, João, et al. Evaluation of the impact of high pressure on the storage of filled traditional chocolates. Innov Food Sci Emerg Technol, 2018, 45, 36-41.