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The hardcore chocolate lover never has to worry about old chocolate going bad on the shelf. In fact, she may puzzle how you could happen. But it does. What a waste!

Here is a look at how long different types of chocolate can be stored safely, without losing flavor or texture. Plus, the experts at St. Kitt’s Chocolate Factory offer tips for proper storage.

Expiration Dates for Chocolate

Several factors are involved when it comes to figuring out the shelf life of different types of chocolate. These include:

  • How it was prepared
  • How it is stored
  • The “Best Before” date

Chocolate lasts for 2 to 4 months past the sell by date if you store it on a shelf, 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator, and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.

Chocolate chips last 2 to 4 months on the shelf, 6 to 8 in the refrigerator and 2 to 3 years in the freezer, past their sell by date. Chips usually have a lot of preservatives.

Chocolate bars last 2 to 4 months on the shelf, 4 to 6 months in the refrigerator and 6 to 8 months in the freezer, past their sell by date.

Chocolate truffles last 1 to 2 weeks on the shelf past their sell by date. It isn’t recommended that you refrigerate or freeze them.

Belgian (or artisanal) chocolate lasts 1 to 2 weeks on the shelf, 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator and 2 to 6 months in the freezer, past its sell by date.

Storing Chocolate Properly

Eat it. Chocolate makers recommend that you only by the amount of high-end chocolate you can eat in a week or two. The fresher your chocolate, the better it will always taste.

Avoid heat and light. Keep chocolates away from fresh air and sunlight. Not only will it melt in the sun, it will react badly with the light and the oxygen. As a result, your chocolate will start to oxidize, and change flavor.

This is especially true of milk chocolate and white chocolate, both of which have more dairy products and a lower cacao percentage in them. Dark chocolate is more resistant to heat and light.

The best approach is to wrap up the extra chocolate and put it in a container that is airtight.

Store it by itself. An airtight container has an added benefit. It keeps other scents away from your precious chocolate. The cocoa butter in chocolate products quickly absorbs odors. This can be anything from mint in other candies to vanilla in a scented candle.

Keeping Chocolate in the Refrigerator
Passionate chocolate lovers cringe at the thought of putting good chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer. Though heat is bad for chocolate, cold isn’t much better. The flavor and the texture of good chocolate tend to degrade.

But in summer it can be the best you can do. Be sure wrap the chocolate very tightly. That way it won’t pick up condensation or other scents.

Before you unwrap it to eat it, be sure to let it sit, fully wrapped, on the counter before you eat it.

Freezing Chocolates
Your high-end chocolates will last up to six months in the freezer if you wrap them properly. As mentioned, it’s not ideal, but it does preserve them and they do taste good when you’re ready to eat them.

  • Wrap them tightly. Make sure the wrapper is moisture proof.
  • Put them in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then move them into the freezer compartment, not before. This stops “temperature shock.”
  • When you’re ready to eat them, move them from the freezer to the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then put them on the counter, still wrapped, until they reach room temperature.
  • Eat and enjoy!