How do you store chocolate?
We get asked a lot about chocolate storage and we even some times get told that chocolate should never be refrigerated and just be kept at room temperature. It's all good, we really like to work with people who are passionate about chocolate! You can never go wrong learning more right? However these advice are probably written by people who don't live in the tropics or didn't consider readers who lived in another climate. When they say room temperature they mean about 10°C to 18°C. [Don't believe us? This is very easy to check. Just google "chocolate storage temperature" and of course google the room temps of the country where the author lives]
Real Chocolate is a tricky thing in a tropic climate. Tempered real chocolate should be stored in a cool dry place with temperatures somewhere between from 10-20°C in a wine chiller set at the red wine setting or a fridge set nearest to 16°C (probably the min or warmest setting it has). you might be able to get a way storing it in a dark cupboard away from your cooking area, In a air-conditioned room away from the sun getting temperatures up to 27°C but nothing above that. Chocolate should always be store air tight in Tupperware or zip locks. Before consumption let it rest at room temperature for 10 mins slowly climb to room temperature before eating to help the cacao butter wake up and be able to release its flavors!
First let's talk about chocolate composition.
Only talking about real chocolate here, not compound chocolate, spreads, ganache, nama, bonbons, truffles, powder ect.
Real Chocolate is made out of cacao beans, cacao beans are, most of the time, de-husked to remove the fibrous outer layer. The cacao nibs which is or should be the main ingredient! the nibs has 2 major components; Cacao butter and cacao solid or mass. The nibs are grounded with sugar and we have chocolate. Easy right? This process takes us almost 72hrs to do via very slow traditional artisanal processes, well at lease that is how we chose to do it. Big industrial Chocolate makers can do this under 6hrs via fast industrial machines.
Real Chocolate has a good naturally occurring fat called cacao butter (you'll see us talking more about this soon). Compared to some compound "chocolate" where cacao butter was replaced with cheap possibly harmful oils such as palm oil, hydrogenated oils, or other shortening (cacao butter substitutes). These altered "Chocolate" may melt at a higher temperature or sometimes adding emulsifiers such as lecithin also help. (We'll talk about this on another time). Other components are the solid part of the cacao bean and sugar which are all suspended and equally distributed on the cacao butter.
Tempered chocolate is basically setting up the cacao butter in a stable snappy shinny solid form (IV seed crystals). In my opinion the best way to eat chocolate is in its tempered form or in its totally melted form (yes there are other forms in between forming type I III III crystals and even V crystals). We temper a lot of chocolate here at plentitude, in fact we temper all out chocolate by hand! (We will talk about tempering also on another post). Tempering is achieved by heating up the chocolate, cooling it down and heating it back up again to very specific temperatures with constant agitation.
Things that are not good for your chocolate's temper!
When the surface or all of the tempered chocolate melts and re-solidifies, It may go out of temper. You'll see grey streaks, circles or waves as fat melts and solidifies. this is called fat bloom. Is this bad? Yes and no. It won't probably change the flavor unless it stays in heat for an extended period of time (like over 40C for 24 hrs), It has more to do on how the flavors are released and of the texture of the chocolate. So we should avoid hot places! Definitely don't leave you chocolate in you car as it turns into a oven in hot places! Also be careful of hot flashes in Philippines!
What to do if my chocolate has gone soft?
put it in the fridge, hopefully it's just running little warm there's still enough IV Crystals for it to set up properly.
Sudden Temperature Changes
Another thing to watch out for is temperature shock. Placing chocolate from cold to hot extremes this causes condensation. Moisture collects and makes small droplets of water on the chocolates surface and the moisture draws the sugar out from the chocolate to the surface, as it gets dry the sugar will recrystallize as grey dots or circles on the chocolate surface. This is sugar bloom, again it's safe to eat. One test you can do is to break a small portion of and wet it to see if the grain dissolve and disappear that's a confirmed sugar bloom, you will have to eat that piece at once though. Not that recommend getting chocolate wet.
Moist Humid Environments
Same thing above. Keep it air tight containers such as zip locks and Tupperware. if you get some chocolate wet best to eat that as soon as you can or melt it into hot choco for immediate consumption.
Have you ever left butter open in your fridge, tasted it the next day and were suppressed that it tasted like your left overs? Fat tends to pick up the smells around it. This is another point for storing it air tight with zip locks and Tupperware.
Eating it cold
Best temperature to eat chocolate at room temperature to help cacao butter release aroma and flavors somewhere near 20°C - 24°C.
Do chocolate ever go bad?
Chocolate stored in proper conditions will last a long time even with out preservatives or emulsifiers it can last 2 years! How? There is little to no moisture in it! But some chocolates do go bad, if you see fuzzy mold (think black mold in white color with fuzzy hairy textures) on the chocolate or if it taste very sour and salty throw those away! That being said the fresher the chocolate is the better is will taste! Chefs always talk about the freshest ingredients same thing applies with chocolate!
Keeping chocolate in a fridge or not both have some pros and cons.
All things considered, We hope you understand our suggestion to store chocolate in a wine chiller or in your fridge (dial it up to a temp nearest to 18°C) inside a sealed airtight container. Then before consumption let it rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 mins slowly climb to room temperature, if the room is a little ward cover the chocolate in a tea towel while it rests. This should be a good work around to the cons of storing chocolate at room temperatures.