what is the best way to store chocolate...from callebaut to choco chips? heard conflicting answers re: refrigerating or not.
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The best way to store chocolate is the same way it is sold: in a store that is kept cool but not cold, that is dry and well ventilated, with the chocolate product itself well wrapped in paper or plastic or cardboard that keeps it out of the light, sealed against the possibility of absorbing off flavors if it is stored next to the garlic.
Fluctuations in temperature and humidity cause "bloom," patches of light brown or grayish spots that look like dry, powdery mold on the chocolate. Bloom is not dangerous--it won't cause illness. It's just unsightly and it will disappear if the chocolate is melted. But, not knowing what it is, if you saw it in a friend's cabinet, would you want to eat it?
Refrigerating chocolate is said to cause its flavor to degrade more quickly than at room temperature, and the chocolate flavor is supposed to be more nuanced and full when the chocolate is served on the warm side of room temperature or higher. That said, why do my kids and grandkids love refrigerated Snickers?
Keep your chocolate in its original wrapping in a bottom cabinet farthest from your stove and refrigerator, and away from the damp cabinet under the sink. That same cool, dark, dry cabinet is where other baking supplies (flour, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder) should also be stored.
thanks much. some chocolate have expiration dates on the packages, but other don't. would it be safe to say that if 'bloom' is apparent, perhaps the chocolate might be past it's prime? are there any other tests to check if chocolate has 'gone bad."
Just before Halloween, I went to a local (Seattle) somewhat high-end grocery and was chagrined to find that the Callebaut sold in bulk for $10.99 a pound had a 2008 expiration date. Worse, to me, was that it wasn't marked down in price. I really wanted it, though, because I had used it before in an exquisite ganache-filled chocolate cake that was almost black (perfect for Halloween) covered in chocolate whipped cream and I wanted to make the exact cake for a neighbor's party. So I bought it. It was perfectly fine, and I wished I would have counted all the times I heard "Oh my god" when someone took a forkful of the cake.
I've heard stories about rancid chocolate, but I've never had any that tasted bad, including a years-old Hershey bar with almonds and bloom from a dusty gas station somewhere in Arizona at 3am. I don't know of any test, besides taste and perhaps smell, for chocolate that's off.
Now you've got me curious. Has anyone in pickleland stored chocolate long-term in their freezer or refrigerator? Has anyone ever encountered bad chocolate?
Speaking with my candymakers hat again, my primary products aren't chocolate but I do make a number of chocolate coated items and regularly store several pounds of chocolate in the freezer, particularly during the summer months when the kitchen is warm and humid. I have kept chocolate in the freezer as long as 6 months with no ill effects - no change in flavor and no bloom. Freezer may be better than refrigerator because refrigerators have a much higher humidity level which can cause bloom.
If you have an electric wine cooler, you can keep the chocolate in there. Some have dual cooling compartments that operate at different cooling temps. I've wanted to invest in a very small one, to use for a few things I'd like kept at a constant cool temp for both summer and winter.
Wine cooler is a great idea, but most bakers freeze thier chocolate.