In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long does chocolate last at room temperature?”, discuss answers to other related questions like how can you store chocolate and how do you know if chocolate has gone bad.
How long does chocolate last at room temperature?
Chocolate can last for about 6 months to a year at room temperature. But this time frame is affected by several factors such as the quality of chocolate, the ingredients used, and the conditions under which you have stored the chocolate. In general, chocolate tastes its yummiest before its best by date and even a little after, but it is safe to eat for way longer.
If the package of chocolate is unopened, it can last for months past its expiration date if it has been stored at room temperature, or even longer if it has been in the fridge. So, chocolate can be safe to eat months or even years after its best by date, but there can be differences in the taste and appearance.
Shelf life of chocolate
Due to the presence of flavonoids in chocolates, chocolates can last for a lengthy period. The flavonoids keep the fats of chocolates from oxidizing. Also, there is little to no water activity in the chocolates. So they are usually considered to be the least perishable ingredient for microorganisms particularly bacteria.
Let us now discuss the shelf life of different types of chocolate but first make sure that the higher the milk content, the lesser the shelf life. And, semi-sweet, bittersweet, and dark chocolates have a better chance of surviving a long stint in the pantry.
White chocolate is pretty much all dairy and cocoa butter so its shelf life is a little more fickle than that of bittersweet or dark chocolate. Unopened white chocolate can last for up to 6 months in the pantry and even longer in the fridge. Once opened, it is better to use it within 4 months.
Milk chocolate can stay at peak quality for up to a year at room temperature or in the fridge, if unopened. If the wrapper or bag has been torn, you have 8 to 10 months to use it.
Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
As this chocolate has less dairy, this means it can last for a relatively long duration. You can keep this for 2 years at room temperature or in the fridge.
An unopened package of dark chocolate has a shelf life of at least 2 years. But once the package has been opened, the shelf life reduces to 1 year only.
How can you store chocolate?
It is a bummer to eat stale chocolate. So it is very important to learn the way to store chocolate such that the creamy, cocoa goodness of chocolate retains. Follow the directions given below to store chocolate:
- Make sure to keep the chocolates away from the direct source of heat and light to prevent the change in color and flavor of the chocolate. Keeping chocolates in the pantry can be the best option as, at room temperature, the process of oxidation is also slow.
- Refrigeration is not a good option for all types of chocolates. Because if you refrigerate, condensation will form on the chocolate once you take it out of the fridge and expose it to room temperature. However, if you live in a place with high temperature and high humidity, you can refrigerate your chocolates, as long as they’re stored in heavy-duty plastic bags and closed tightly.
- Make sure to keep the leftover chocolate in its original packaging. Most chocolate comes in aluminum packaging, which helps to enclose the melted butter inside and to reduce air contact.
How do you know if chocolate has gone bad?
As discussed earlier, chocolate is the least perishable product for microorganisms as it contains flavonoids and little to no water activity. But this does not mean that chocolate is not prone to spoiling at all. Chocolates indeed have a fairly long shelf life but their quality degrades over time. So, let’s now discuss how you can know if chocolate has gone bad:
If you see some grey streaks on the chocolate, don’t throw the chocolate. These streaks are chocolate bloom and it’s not harmful in terms of food safety. Although unattractive, it’s harmless, and there isn’t a good way to get rid of it. The same goes for the sugar blooms that appear as crystals on the surface of the chocolate.
If you observe anything green or mold-like on the surface, toss the chocolate out. The presence of mold most likely means moisture got to the product.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long does chocolate last at room temperature?”, discussed answers to other related questions like how can you store chocolate and how do you know if chocolate has gone bad.