Keeping your chocolate fresh
Are you storing your chocolates right? Regardless of whether you are a manufacturer, chocolate connoisseur or home-baker, the rules stay the same. Take note of these six factors below to keep your chocolate and its finished products at its optimum condition.
The golden rule for storing chocolate products, ‘The shorter the period of storage, the better the quality of the product’. FIFO (First In/First Out) is the recommended system as it ensures that the products that are produced first are dispatched first. This way, products do not stay in the warehouse for a long time. Consequently, optimal freshness is guaranteed.
Temperature & Humidity
The ideal storage conditions of chocolate are between 15 – 23 ºC (59 - 73 °F) temperature and less than 70% relative humidity. At high temperatures, the chocolate melts and will cause fat separation resulting to fat blooming. High humidity encourages sugar bloom due to more water molecules present in air that comes in contact with chocolate surface. Avoid drastic changes in temperature to prevent fat separation or moisture condensation on the surface of the chocolate. Fat separation is a reversible process that can be resolved by melting and re-tempering. On the other hand, moisture contamination due to condensation is an irreversible process that might affect the rheological properties and texture of the chocolate.
Chocolate is picks up odour from its surrounding very easily. Hence, it should be stored in a place with good air flow and free of musky or strange odours. Chocolate should not be stored next to or between strong-smelling products (e.g. meat, fish, cheese etc.). The packaging of chocolate products needs to be fully neutral, i.e. the material must not give off any odour. Needless to say, smoking is strictly prohibited in places where chocolate is stored.
Light and Air
Under the influence of light and air, chocolate will oxidize quickly and deteriorate in taste. Thus, it is important to protect the chocolate from air and light (artificial light included) as much as possible and to store it in sealed packaging. Dark and milk chocolate naturally contain anti-oxidant (these are agents that will slow down the oxidation process), but white chocolate does not contain these substances. Hence, white chocolate is more sensitive towards oxidative effects as compared to dark and milk chocolate.
The odour of chocolate can attract all kinds of vermin. It is extremely important to protect chocolate against vermin to prolong the shelf life of chocolates.