Chocolate, especially if you have children in the house, usually doesn’t last that long. But sometimes a bar can get lost in a cupboard, or maybe you just don’t have a sweet tooth and so, when you do reach for that sweet treat, you’re unsure how long it has been there. That’s when you ask yourself: ‘can chocolate go off?’
Can Chocolate Go Bad?
Eventually, it will deteriorate in quality, but how long does chocolate last? That depends on how you store chocolate. Was it at room temperature, or was it in the fridge? Was the chocolate package sealed or unopened? The type of chocolate will also affect the shelf life of chocolate.
In general, chocolate doesn’t usually bear an expiration date, but it will indicate a printed sell-by date, which gives you an idea of when the chocolate is at its best to eat. The general rule, though, is that the older chocolate is, the more it loses its flavour.
The higher the milk content in chocolate, the quicker the chocolate losses its flavour, that means that white chocolate and milk chocolate will not keep as long as dark chocolate. White chocolate, which is virtually all dairy and cocoa butter, is most at risk of going off. Milk chocolate is also likely to go bad because of its high dairy content.
What do the White Bits on Chocolate Mean?
The white film and flecks sometimes found on a bar of chocolate is called a fat bloom. It doesn’t necessarily mean the chocolate can’t be eaten. Blooming chocolate will not have the optimum flavour, but it can still be used in baking without problems.
What is a Chocolate Bloom?
There are two types of bloom that appear on chocolate. The first is related to the fat within the chocolate when the cocoa butter separates from the other ingredients in the chocolate. The other is a sugar bloom which is caused by condensation. The sugar absorbs moisture on the surface of the chocolate, which when evaporated, the sugars form crystals. Both are perfectly safe to eat and are a result of the chocolate not being stored properly, although poor quality can exacerbate the problem. A chocolate bloom can be resolved simply by melting the chocolate into a mould and allowing it to cool.
There is no tried and tested method to understand if your chocolate is bad. If the chocolate smells and tastes good then it is good. Chocolate is considered a non-perishable food, which means it does not go off, however, very old chocolate, while probably still safe to eat, will retain very little of its original flavour. So the risk-reward ratio means it’s probably better to bin it than to risk it.