19 March 2009

Chocolate Facts: Storing Chocolate



Chocolate Facts: Storing Chocolate

Keep in a cool, dry place and away from any light, moisture or odors. Any one of these can affect the flavor and also the texture of chocolate.

Bloom

If chocolate gets too warm it can develop what is known as “bloom.” “Fat bloom” leaves a grayish cast to the surface of the chocolate because the cocoa butter has risen to the surface.

Another kind of “bloom” is a white, crusty formation of sugar crystals. “Sugar bloom” results from the chocolate being stored where there is too much moisture.

Neither kind of bloom will hurt using the chocolate in recipes as they are not indicators that the chocolate has spoiled. What is spoiled is the texture and appearance of the chocolate and it is less appetizing to eat as is.

Storing in the refrigerator

Many people choose to break large amounts of chocolate into smaller pieces, wrap it firmly in plastic wrap and store it well covered in the refrigerator. When ready to use it, take out what you need and allow it to reach room temperature before using in a recipe. If you unwrap the chocolate while it is still cold, moisture can collect on the surface as it warms.

What is so bad about moisture on the surface of the chocolate? Well, you are toast if you plan to melt the chocolate as it will “seize.” What that means is that the chocolate will become dry and stiff as well as lose its attractive glossiness which we find so appealing.

General guidelines for time of storage

Stored properly most bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate will keep a year or longer. Milk chocolate and white chocolate will keep for several months as a general guideline.

How I store my chocolate treasure

I live in the humid sunny South and I don’t use the refrigerator to store my bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate. I place it well wrapped into old-fashioned tins, then store it in a cool, dark pantry, the coldest part of the house.

We do use air-conditioning but when the temperatures are really high I do check the chocolate every week to see how it is doing. “Hey, guys, are ya happy in there?” And they usually reply, “Yep, happy as clams at low tide; shut the lid, lady!”

For me the refrigerator trick doesn’t work well as I often have chopped onion in the fridge. No amount of baking soda is going to keep that odor out of chocolate.

From the grocery store on the ride home

Also, when you buy your chocolate at the grocery store make sure they don’t place it in a bag with fresh garlic and onions. On a summer day the chocolate can absorb the odors on the short trip home. Personal experience, trust me, don’t go there!

*If you have some tips and tricks you would like to share, feel free to email me or leave a comment, much appreciated, thanks!
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