How To Store Chocolate

With the weather getting warmer and warmer, I figured it might be a good time to go over best practices for storing that most precious of substances: sweet, delicious chocolate.

It’s fairly common knowledge that chocolate is very temperature-sensitive; but beyond that, lots of folks aren’t really sure how long it’s supposed to last, or the best way to store it if your place gets really hot in the summer, or if you want to make some treats ahead of an event but don’t want to sacrifice freshness. Well, read on, curious chocolate connoisseurs! We’ve got you covered.

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Solid (Bar) Chocolate

Assuming you’re storing your chocolate wrapped tightly at cool room temperature (60˚-70˚F), the shelf life of dark chocolate is two years, and milk and white chocolate will last for one year. Sunlight and heat are chocolate’s mortal enemy!

Chocolate can also pick up strong odors; cocoa butter (the fat component of chocolate) has a fairly neutral taste, so it’s not wise to store it near garlic, onions, durian, or any other deliciously smelly foodstuff. Regardless, plastic wrap or a zip-top bag should always be part of your Chocolate Storage Plan.

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Chocolate Bonbons/Truffles

Lucky you – you have a delicious box of tasty chocolate candies! But oh, no…you can’t eat them all in one sitting or you’ll get a tummyache. 😖 What to do?

Most of the above holds true for chocolate confections as well: cool room temp, wrapped airtight, away from sunlight. If you have something a little more mass-market – a Whitman’s Sampler, for example, no judgement – you’ll probably be fine for three to six months. Check the package for a best-by date to be sure.

If you have something a little higher end, perhaps from a local confectioner who uses only natural ingredients and no preservatives COUGH COUGH AHEM, you’ll want to ask them for storage and shelf life recommendations when you purchase. Most ganaches will last one to two months, and up to three in the fridge; but some chocolates are more delicate than others, and every chocolatier worth their salt (or sugar) will be able to help you out with specifics.

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Chocolate Ganache

I get this question a lot from DIYers and students of our Craftsy class. Often they’ll be making ganache or truffles for an event and would like to do it a few days or weeks ahead of time, but are worried about freshness.

If you’re making ganache ahead of time and saving it to make into truffles (or frosting, or cookie filling, or spoon-eatin’) later, just allow it to cool to room temperature in a bowl or storage container before covering (airtight!) and transferring to the fridge. If you’re using it within two weeks, just allow it to come to room temperature before using. If you plan on storing it for longer than that, move it to the freezer after cooling in the fridge for 24 hours, and use within six to eight months.

It’s best to dip truffles only a day or two in advance of serving them; but if you absolutely must make them ahead and refrigerate, be extra careful when you allow them to come back to room temperature! Maybe wrap them in two towels, particularly if it’s hot out; just like a glass of ice water, cold chocolate in a warm environment will want to form condensation on its surface, and that will ruin the nice shiny appearance of the chocolate. It’s mostly a cosmetic issue and won’t affect the taste much; but cosmetics can be very important to some people, so just be forewarned.

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To Summarize

• All chocolate products keep best at cool room temperature (60˚-70˚F), away from sunlight and strong odors, and wrapped airtight.

• To freeze chocolate, wrap it airtight in plastic wrap or a zip-top bag and place it in the fridge for 24 hours; then move it to the freezer.

• To thaw chocolate, move it from the freezer to the fridge and leave it for 24 hours; then wrap it in a clean towel and allow it to come to room temperature for another 12-24 hours.

• Fine chocolate is best enjoyed at room temperature – some flavor nuances can get lost if it’s ice-cold – but if you prefer to eat chocolate cold, that is not “wrong” (and is, in fact, one of your basic rights as a sweet-loving human).

I hope this information is helpful, dear chocolate lovers! Did I miss anything? Have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments!

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