At the beginning of the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks wanders into the bears’ home and helps herself to the porridge they’ve left on the table.
She probably shouldn’t have done that, but since she did, we’ll borrow the lesson anyway. The first bowl is too hot, the second too cold, and the third…well, the third was just right.
And that’s what storing your chocolate comes down to: not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Especially when you need to make your stash last or preserve it for gifting later on.
Here are a few things that can help keep your chocolate tasting and looking its best:
Keep chocolate from getting too warm.
At just over 80 degrees chocolate gets soft and around 90 degrees it’s liquid. When your chocolate gets too warm, the cocoa butter solids separate and rise to the surface. They re-solidify as the chocolate cools, leaving a grayish tinge across the surface of your treat. It’s called “fat bloom” and is harmless to consume even though your chocolate will look and taste slightly different.
Keep chocolate from getting too cold, but if you must...
Sometimes it’s just too hot and, in order to save it, you have no other choice than to pop your chocolate in the fridge. But when possible, store it at a steady room temperature instead. Ideally that’s between 65-68 degrees.
Putting it in the fridge exposes it to sharp fluctuations in temperature and humidity, which can cause another unattractive “bloom” called a sugar bloom. This one happens when you take chocolate out of the fridge and leave it to warm up on a counter. This introduces condensation and the moisture from that dissolves the sugar on the chocolate’s surface. As the moisture evaporates, the sugar recrystallizes leaving behind a grainy texture and dusty appearance.
Even though sugar bloom alters texture and taste, like fat bloom, your chocolate is safe to consume.
If you absolutely must store your chocolate in the fridge, seal it in a plastic bag. In addition to keeping out moisture, the bag prevents the chocolate from absorbing odors from nearby foods, something cocoa solids are particularly prone to. And when it’s time to take it out of the fridge to enjoy, wrap it in a towel so that it can come to room temperature gently.
When it comes to storing chocolate, think like Goldilocks (at least as far as her porridge was concerned). Not too hot, not too cold and you’re sure to get it just right.
It’s rare, but chocolate can spoil. It’s always wise to check the “best by” date and sniff for unusual odors.