How Long Is Chocolate Good For?
Have you stumbled across some chocolate that you totally forgot about after hiding it in the back of the pantry? It's been a good six months since you bought it, and now you're wondering if it's still good to eat. The good news is that chocolate doesn't go bad as quickly as other perishable foods. But, it does become inedible eventually.
The question is: exactly how long is chocolate good for? Can you eat it after it's gone past its best before date? And how should you store chocolate so that it stays delicious for as long as possible? In this article, we will answer all of these questions and more.
First, let's get straight to the point: how long is chocolate good for?
How Long Is Chocolate Good For?
In general, chocolate tastes best within the best before date. However, it can last a lot longer than that, depending on its quality, the type of chocolate, and how it has been stored.
Let's talk about the factors that influence how long chocolate lasts. First, we have the different types of chocolate:
Types of Chocolate
The specific type of chocolate in question matters when determining the correct shelf life. We'll provide average shelf life for the three main types: white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. We'll also provide shelf-life recommendations for other styles, such as Belgian chocolate, organic chocolate, and vegan chocolate.
White chocolate contains mostly dairy and cocoa butter. As such, it will go bad faster than milk chocolate and dark chocolate - both of which have a higher cocoa content. If you leave it unopened, white chocolate can last up to 6 months at room temperature and even longer when refrigerated.
Milk chocolate lasts way longer than white chocolate, mainly because it contains less dairy. Unopened, it can last up to a year in the pantry and even longer in the refrigerator. If opened, it can keep its peak quality for around 8 to 10 months at room temperature.
Dark chocolate contains the most cocoa out of the three main types of chocolate. Compared to the first two types, dark chocolate also lasts the longest because it contains little to no milk. Instead, it is mostly composed of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, and sugar. Unopened dark chocolate can last at least 2 years. When it's opened, it's best to eat it within a year.
Belgian chocolate probably won't last long before you gobble it all up (it's just so good)! But if you have to put off eating this type of chocolate, you can store unopened Belgian chocolate for 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature. When refrigerated, it can last about four weeks.
In general, organic chocolate is better for you because it contains no artificial preservatives. However, the lack of preservatives also makes organic chocolate go bad a bit quicker than other types of chocolate. At room temperature, organic chocolate stays fresh for 5 to 7 days. Refrigerate it and it can last up to 90 days with no problem.
Vegan chocolate contains no animal products - which means no dairy. The lack of dairy helps vegan chocolate remain stable at room temperature. However, most types of vegan chocolate are best consumed within 2 months to enjoy their optimum taste and texture.
If you want to know more about what vegan chocolate is made of, you can read all about it on our blog.
Quality of Chocolate
The quality of your chocolate is another determining factor in how long it stays fresh and tasty. Generally, store-bought chocolate that contains artificial preservatives expires sooner than higher-quality chocolate. In fact, high-end stuff like organic chocolate bars can improve with age thanks to their natural preservatives.
All types of chocolate last longer in the refrigerator or freezer, especially when left unopened. However, refrigerating and freezing your chocolate can affect its taste and texture. If you plan to eat it in a timely manner, it's best to leave your chocolate at room temperature.
How to Tell if Chocolate Has Gone Bad
Cracks or dots on the chocolate may mean it is stale but still edible. White spots, on the other hand, represent sugar bloom or fat bloom. Sugar bloom creates a powdery texture and strange taste on chocolate, while fat bloom mainly affects chocolate's appearance as the cocoa butter separates from the rest of the ingredients. Chocolate bloom is still safe to eat, but probably not enjoyable.
However, when your chocolate has mold or discoloration, it's time to toss it. But don't just rely on your senses. To determine if your chocolate is still good for eating, check the expiration date and the best before date first.
What is the best before date?
The best before date tells you how long the chocolate will stay in its peak quality. It does not tell you when the chocolate will go bad. So, it's perfectly fine to eat chocolate that has gone beyond its best before date, but you may notice a change in quality.
What is the expiration date?
The expiration date tells you if your chocolate is still safe to consume. But since chocolate does not perish the same way other foods do, most chocolate products do not have an expiration date--just a best before date.
It is generally not a good idea to eat chocolate that has gone past its expiration date. This should be what ultimately guides your decision. But your chocolate doesn't have an expiration date, and it still looks, smells, and tastes fine, you have nothing to worry about.
Can You Eat Expired Chocolate?
Expired chocolate can taste way off compared to its original quality, but it is not poisonous. So, yes, you can eat expired chocolate. Try a small piece first. If it tastes weird, just toss it, even if it doesn't have any mold or discoloration. Otherwise, you might get an upset stomach.
Pro tip: if your expired chocolate tastes fine but it's not enjoyable to eat on its own, turn it into something else. Bake it into brownies, melt it into chocolate fondue, or chop it into chunks for chocolate chip cookies.
How to Store Chocolate So It Stays Good Longer
All types of chocolate last longer and maintain their original quality through proper storage. If you want your chocolate to remain tasty, fresh, and safe to eat, follow these tips when storing chocolate:
Store in a cool, dry place
Chocolate stays in its peak quality when stored at a temperature between 65 and 68°F and a humidity of 55%. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate, in particular, are best stored this way. But for organic and vegan chocolate that do not contain artificial preservatives, we recommend storing them in the refrigerator if you are not going to eat them within a week. The same goes if you want your chocolate to last longer than a few weeks.
Use airtight containers
Chocolate easily absorbs flavors and odors from other products. So, if you don't want your soy-free chocolate bar to taste like yesterday's leftovers, store it in an airtight container.
Keep your chocolate away from the light
Exposure to air and light triggers oxidation, a process that can make your chocolate bloom. Keeping your chocolate in the light will also cause it to melt, which can alter its chemical structure and change its texture.
With that in mind, always keep your chocolate in a dark place like the pantry. If you accidentally leave your chocolate sitting in the sun, put it in the refrigerator to harden it back up. However, this might cause a change in texture, so you should always be careful not to place your chocolate in direct light.
Refrigerate and freeze properly
If you must store chocolate in the fridge or freezer, doing it properly will help maintain its original taste, texture, and quality for as long as possible.
When storing chocolate in the fridge, use airtight containers to prevent it from absorbing foreign flavors, odors, and moisture. Moisture can introduce sugar bloom to your chocolate, which can change your chocolate's texture into something grainy or powdery. When you take your chocolate bar out of the fridge, give it time to return to room temperature before digging in.
Freezing your chocolate is a good idea if you really want to extend its shelf life. However, the problem with freezing is that it drastically changes chocolate's texture. To avoid this, put your chocolate bar in the fridge for the first 24 hours, then move it to the freezer. This method avoids prevents temperature shock, which can help your chocolate remain in its best texture.
And when it's time to take out your chocolate, simply put it back in the fridge for 24 hours, then let it go back to room temperature before eating it.
Final Thoughts On How Long Chocolate Is Good For
Chocolate doesn't typically have an expiry date, which is why you'll mostly see best before dates on chocolate products. However, chocolate still becomes inedible at some point. So, if you want to maintain your chocolate's original quality for as long as possible, follow the storage tips mentioned above.
At the end of the day, chocolate is not always as healthy as we want it to be--and most chocolate products are not cruelty-free. That is why we are dedicated to creating high-quality vegan chocolate that is made from animal-free, whole-food ingredients. With MidDay Squares, you can satisfy all of your chocolate cravings without guilt!
When you compare vegan chocolate vs. regular chocolate, you'll see why our products are so much better than what you can buy at the store. But don't just take our word for it. Try our vegan chocolate products today and find your next favorite healthy treat!\