Chocolate, when not stored properly, can lose its richness and flavor and may become stale. It is very sensitive to humidity and temperature. Proper storage and packing is needed to preserve its freshness and wonderful taste and aroma. The ideal storage temperature for chocolate is between 15 and 17 °C (59 to 63 °F) with a humidity that is less than 50%. Chocolate also easily absorbs aroma and should be stored separately from other foods, especially those with strong aromas such as herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and meat. This is the reason why dark, white, and milk chocolates are carefully and tightly wrapped in foil, so as to avoid absorbing moisture and other foreign elements.
Avoiding blooming effects
When storing chocolates, make sure that that it is wrapped in foil or plastic and kept in an air tight container. Choose a relatively dark place for storing the chocolate that is inside the container, in an area that will not be hit by direct sunlight. Besides melting and deforming, high temperatures can cause the chocolate to have what is called a “fat bloom” effect. This is when the oil or fat from the cocoa butter rises to the surface. Do not refrigerate or freeze the chocolate unless you intend to preserve it well after the indicated expiration date. Refrigerating or freezing the chocolate will cause it to discolor and develop an unwanted effect called “sugar bloom.” This happens when the chocolate absorbs too much moisture from the low temperature in the refrigerator and develops a whitish discoloration, a result of the sugar crystals rising to the surface. Temperature fluctuations can ruin the chocolate’s nice presentation, texture, and color.
If you must refrigerate
If you live in an area with unpredictable weather where the temperature can rise above 30 degrees and drop below 10 degrees Centigrade, then the best alternative is to refrigerate your chocolates so that it does not suffer from the temperature fluctuations and can be stored at a constant temperature. Before your refrigerate, however, make sure that you keep the chocolate wrapped in its foil and placed inside an airtight container or Ziploc bag so that it does not absorb the odors and moisture from the refrigerator. Before eating or using as an ingredient for cooking, let the chocolate return to room temperature and unwrap it only after it has thawed so as to prevent sugar bloom.
For aesthetic purposes
Blooming effects do not affect the chocolate’s taste and edibility however. Sugar or fat bloom in chocolate does not indicate that the chocolate is spoiled or old. In fact, even with blooming, it still retains its flavor. The chocolate only becomes visually and texturally unappealing but it can still be eaten and enjoyed, as well as used for baking. Dark chocolate that has had a blooming effect can be melted and remolded to restore its original texture and appearance. Storing chocolates in the right temperature is mostly for aesthetic purposes, which is a big part of experiencing chocolate at its finest.
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