Quality chocolate needs gentle storage
Quality chocolate should be stored properly to retain its perfectionSmooth, rich and utterly satisfying, chocolate is made to be enjoyed from first taste to the very last bite. You can savor chocolate. You can ration a short supply to make it last as long as possible. But store quality chocolate improperly and you will taste the ugly side of moisture, sugar crystals and cocoa butter. Chocolate lovers know that quality chocolate needs gentle storage - if it doesn't disappear first!
As you may know, chocolate is produced from the seed of the cacao tree and blended with natural or processed ingredients. Producers of high end, quality chocolate put special care into choosing the best cacao beans, blending them with raw ingredients and storing the final product in optimum conditions.
Until the cacao seeds are fermented and roasted, the flavor is extremely bitter. As the majority of chocolate consumed today is sweet, roasted cacao is usually blended with cocoa solids, butter, sugar and other fats to make quality chocolate. Milk chocolate contains additional condensed milk or milk powder, and white chocolate is made with sugar, milk and cocoa butter.
How to Store Quality Chocolate
Chocolate is extremely vulnerable to humidity and extreme temperatures. The best way to store chocolate is in a cool, dry dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Fine chocolate is often wrapped in thick packaging, which looks nice and is designed to protect the chocolate. The chocolate products in a high quality chocolate gift basket are always wrapped to travel well.
Once opened, you can wrap chocolate back in its packaging, but you should also seal it in a plastic bag or air tight container.
For chocolate in without a dairy filling, the optimal storage temperature is 68-72 degrees F. Chocolate with dairy filling should be stored at 57-60 degrees F. An ideal chocolate storage space will have less than 50% humidity.
If you live in a warm climate without air conditioning, the refrigerator is the best place to store a chocolate bar. Keep chocolate away from other foods and always in an air tight container because it absorbs odors, and this will affect its flavor. Without a seal, refrigerated chocolate also absorbs moisture, which creates white spots on your chocolate known as ‘blooming’.
Dark chocolate without dairy filling, stored properly, lasts up to a year, while milk chocolate lasts about six months. Store quality chocolate in the freezer to make it last longer, but if moved from one extreme temperature to another, chocolate gets oily.
Avoid damaging refrigerated or frozen chocolate with these tips:
- Always chill chocolate in an air tight container. Avoid plastic wrap and tin foil.
- If frozen, de-thaw chocolate in the wrapping in the refrigerator to prevent condensation.
- Before freezing or refrigerating, divide the chocolate into small portions and put each piece in a separate plastic bag. Then put the bags in a larger freezer weight bag for extra protection.
Chocolate bloom is the enemy of both chocolate makers and happy consumers. Chocolate bloom is that white, moldy-looking coating that appears on chocolate that has not been stored correctly. Chocolate can have a ‘fat bloom’ or a ‘sugar bloom’. Warm storage conditions cause a fat bloom, which is the rise of cocoa butter to the slick surface. A damp storage space causes a sugar bloom, which has a dry, grainy feel but looks similar to a fat bloom.
Chocolate ‘bloom’ is not pretty, but it’s safe to eat. However, if you don’t want to eat it, consider baking with it. The fat and sugar is redistributed when baked so the taste and look will be the same. Nobody else has to know.