Chocolate is a nearly universally beloved treat.
For most people, it doesn’t last long enough to ever worry about going bad, but if you happen to have extraordinary willpower, shop in bulk, or keep chocolate on hand at all times, you’ll want to be sure your chocolate stash is safe.
Can chocolate get moldy? Dry chocolate cannot grow mold. However, if it isn’t stored properly, it can “bloom” or go stale. Chocolate sauce or syrup does have the potential to grow mold because of its higher moisture content, but it is unlikely.
In this article, we’ll carefully detail how to analyze the freshness and quality of your chocolate and how to keep it safe and delicious for as long as possible.
We’ll even give you tips on how to recover chocolate that has been exposed to some hard times.
Can Chocolate Grow Mold?
Chocolate has very little moisture content, making it nearly impossible to support any type of mold growth.
The one thing bacteria require for life is water or moisture. Without it, mold cannot grow and your chocolate is safe from this particular contamination.
Even though it won’t mold, chocolate can deteriorate in quality, so let’s talk more about what can happen to your chocolate if it’s not stored properly.
Does Chocolate Go Bad?
It is highly unlikely chocolate will ever make you sick because it has gone bad.
It might taste somewhat stale or you might get sick from consuming too much sugar at once, or because of a dairy sensitivity, but chocolate won’t spoil in a way that will make you sick.
Chocolate is made in many different ways, using a variety of additives and other ingredients that can affect the quality of chocolate over time, either for better or for worse.
With certain preservatives and proper storage, some chocolate can last up to 2 years and retain every ounce of decadent flavor.
Lower quality chocolate or chocolate that has been fortified with fruits, nuts, nougat, wafers, or other textural components may deteriorate much more quickly. This is another important point to consider.
Some nuts or fruit may spoil within the chocolate, making the treat overall unappealing and potentially unsafe to eat, but it won’t be the chocolate itself that makes your stomach turn.
Also, ingredients added for crunch and texture, such as wafer cookie pieces or puffed rice may lose their crunch over time or go stale more quickly than the chocolate itself.
It’s much more difficult to predict the lifespan of chocolate that has added ingredients.
Does Chocolate Syrup Go Bad?
The exception to the anti-mold rule is any type of chocolate that has moisture added to it, such as sauces or syrups.
An unopened bottle of chocolate syrup will be shelf-stable and won’t go bad, but once it’s open, there’s enough moisture in the syrup to support mold growth.
It is still highly unlikely, however, because the sugar content is so high. Sugar and cocoa are two ingredients that have a very long shelf-life. If you have sugar-free chocolate syrup, however, you’ll have to be more careful.
You will still need to protect the quality of your chocolate sauce or syrup by storing it in an air-tight container in your fridge. This is especially true for homemade chocolate products.
Does Dark Chocolate Go Bad?
When it comes to chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the longer you can store it without worrying about the quality deteriorating.
Lower quality milk chocolates may start to taste stale within 6–8 months of being placed on the shelves of your grocery store, let alone making it into your home pantry.
However, high-quality dark chocolate that is 80% or more cocoa will easily last 2 years without showing signs of flavor loss or change.
Chocolate chips go through slightly different processing than chocolate bars or chunks, so we have dedicated a separate article to answer the question, do chocolate chips go bad?
How to Tell if Chocolate Has Gone Bad
As mentioned, chocolate itself will always be safe to eat, even if it has gone stale or is otherwise less than its best.
However, the more outside ingredients that are added to your chocolate, the more careful you need to be about storing it for the long-term.
If you’ve purchased chocolate that has fruit or nuts, in particular, look for a best-by date on the package and adhere to it. That is the best way of keeping yourself safe from spoiled chocolate treats.
If you’ve made your own fruit or nut-fortified chocolate, you may not be able to tell if the ingredients have gone bad until you taste it.
Fruit and nuts inside chocolate are unlikely to give off any bad smell or visual signs of deterioration, so you’ll have to test the chocolate with your tastebuds.
Fruit that has gone bad will likely either be very hard and unappealing to chew or have a slightly fermented flavor.
Nuts, on the other hand, can go rancid, which creates a bitter, almost metallic bite. In both of these cases, you’re unlikely to get sick from consuming the spoiled fruit or nuts inside the chocolate, but it won’t taste great.
Chocolate can also go stale or lose the creamy sweetness you love so much. You may notice cracks in your chocolate that are signs of being old and dried out, but that’s not a reliable indicator.
If your chocolate smells musty, that’s a better sign of deteriorating quality.
Stale chocolate isn’t as delicious to eat out of hand, but it can still be used in baking safely and the off-taste won’t be as obvious, so don’t throw it away!
Chocolate Bloom Vs Mold
The most common reason people assume their chocolate has gone moldy is that it has developed white or grey streaks or spots.
This is not mold, but “bloom.” It is a sign that the chocolate hasn’t been stored properly and has been exposed to either significant temperature fluctuations or moisture.
What Is Chocolate Bloom?
There are two types of chocolate bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom.
Sugar bloom is the more common occurrence and it happens when your chocolate is exposed to moisture, which dissolves the sugar crystals on the surface of the chocolate.
When the moisture evaporates and the sugar resolidifies, it leaves a white, dusty residue on the chocolate.
Fat bloom, on the other hand, happens when there is a big shift in temperature where the chocolate is being stored.
When the temperature changes dramatically, the fat will start to separate from the rest of the chocolate. When it stabilizes, it can leave gray or white streaks in your chocolate.
Depending on the severity of the bloom, it may also leave a powdery softness in your chocolate.
Fat blooms can occur during the tempering process, so if you’re making your own chocolate a home, this may be the cause of your less-than-perfect chocolate.
Most manufacturers will have strict quality control standards to prevent chocolate from being packaged if it has bloomed, however, they can’t monitor every stage of the transportation and storage process.
It’s very possible for chocolate to be exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations at any point between the production facility and your home.
Is Chocolate Bloom Safe to Eat?
Chocolate that has bloomed may have texture or flavor inconsistencies, but it is safe to eat.
You can eat it as-is but, if the visual appeal is lacking too much, you can either bake with the chocolate or attempt to retemper it, if you’re into candy making.
Tempering previously bloomed chocolate won’t recreate the perfect glossy quality of finely crafted chocolates, but it can easily disguise the white spots or streaks and refresh the consistency and flavor.
How to Keep Chocolate From Blooming
The most effective way to protect your chocolate from bloom is to ensure that you are storing it properly. You want to always have it carefully sealed and protected against exposure to moisture, first and foremost.
Chocolate should also be stored in a cool location that doesn’t change temperature and is never exposed to flashes of heat or direct sunlight.
Can You Freeze Chocolate?
You can freeze chocolate, but there is a higher than average likelihood that it will emerge from your freezer at a lower quality, and probably with white streaks and a powdery white surface.
Freezing your chocolate will absolutely cause a severe temperature fluctuation and the thawing process will likely lead to fat bloom of some degree.
Also, even the most careful wrapping and sealing will likely allow some moisture to form on the surface of your chocolate, increasing the chances your chocolate will also develop sugar bloom.
But if you’re planning on cooking or baking with your chocolate, freezing it is a great way to extend the flavor.
If you want to freeze your chocolate for eating in the future, either be prepared for a few visual changes to occur or try vacuum-sealing your chocolate and letting it cool down in your fridge before transferring it to the freezer.
Up Next: What to Do With Melted Chocolate