As much as every fan of hot chocolate would want to believe that their preferred beverage will endure the ravages of time, alas, this is not the case.
Does hot chocolate go bad or expire? Yes, hot chocolate can expire, go bad, or deteriorate if it is not consumed within its expiration date or if it is not stored correctly.
How long is hot chocolate good for?
The usual shelf life of standard hot chocolate powder is between one and two years, depending on the expiration date.
However, any hot-chocolate expert will tell you that there are other ways to satisfy your craving. There are hot chocolate powder, cocoa powder, quick hot chocolate powder blends, hot chocolate bombs, and the traditional method of melting chocolate pellets to create actual hot chocolate.
Consequently, how long does each of them last?
If pure cocoa is stored correctly, it does not truly go bad. However, the cocoa’s flavor and quality can and will diminish over time. Unopened cocoa powder has a shelf life of more than two years. However, once opened, it must be used within its use-by date, which is typically six months after the seal is broken.
In contrast, hot chocolate powder will not last nearly as long as pure cocoa. Why? Typically, hot chocolate powder and quick mixes contain powdered milk or another dairy substance. According to the expiration or best-by date, they will undoubtedly go bad within a year or two.
Hot chocolate bombs are very popular and can be found practically anywhere. Although these cocoa bombs are, well, the bomb, they only last a maximum of two weeks. These chocolate bombs should be stored with extreme caution. Typically, they contain perishable fillings like as chocolate ganache, marshmallows, and others.
The same holds true for hot chocolate produced from chocolate chips, pellets, or bars that have melted.
How to Determine whether Hot Chocolate Is Stale
Checking the best before or expiration date of your hot chocolate powder or mix is a useful indicator of when it is time to dispose of the product. However, the aroma, flavor, and color of the hot chocolate might also be indicators.
As a pantry item, however, you cannot tell if your hot chocolate has gone bad because it still “looks nice.” It will not support plant growth, unlike fresh vegetables.
However, here are several indications that it’s time to discard your hot cocoa:
- The overall flavor of the hot chocolate will diminish as time passes when it is not consumed. This can occur in one of two ways: either the flavor and strength will be considerably lowered, or you will detect an overwhelming bitterness. Your hot chocolate has gone nasty in either case.
- As is the case with the flavor, the aroma of your hot chocolate will also alter. The aroma of high-quality cocoa or instant chocolate powder will be malty and buttery. If the cocoa powder is spoiled, the chocolate aroma will diminish and the powder may smell bland or perhaps somewhat savory.
- If you do not keep the hot chocolate in a dry and cold location, there is a considerable chance that moisture will enter the container and cause the powder to become lumpy. Where there is water, the likelihood of a bacterial assault is high, and this is a sure sign that your chocolate has gone bad.
- Another clue that your hot chocolate has expired is discoloration. With time, the deep brown color of cocoa will fade and acquire a grey-white hue.
- Along the surface of chocolate chips, pellets, bars, and bombs, you will see a white-grey discoloration, indicating that the chocolate is stale and old.
What Happens if You Consume Expired or Putrid Hot Chocolate?
Cocoa powder does not spoil, thus ingesting it will not make you sick. Nonetheless, any food item that has gone rotten is unfit for ingestion.
But surely chocolate, the gods’ nectar, can never be harmful…
Old chocolate powder or cocoa can often exhibit white specks known as “bloom,” which are simply crystallized sugar. It is still “safe” to consume, but will not taste nearly as wonderful. Same holds true for chocolate chunks and pellets. However, chocolate bombs include contents that, depending on what they are, may make you sick.
However, if your cocoa powder is sticky and lumpy, this indicates that it contains moisture. This indicates that there is a high probability of bacterial contamination, which, if swallowed, will surely cause illness.
How to Properly Store Hot Chocolate
Changes in temperature, humidity levels, and even the type of container you use to preserve and store your hot chocolate will go a long way toward maximizing its shelf life.
- Ideal cocoa powder storage conditions are between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit and below 55% relative humidity. Ensure that the temperature is steady and that the temperature is not altered by moving the item from one location to another.
- Keep it away from natural and artificial light.
- If the original container is damaged, reseal it or, better yet, find a container with a tight cover and transfer the hot chocolate to it.
- Always use a dry implement to serve hot chocolate.
- The alternative of storing it in the refrigerator is not great. However, it may be prudent, particularly during the summer months, to cover the container snugly with an airtight seal and store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. If you do not wrap your powder before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer, the excessive humidity might cause it to clump. Keep in mind, however, that refrigerating hot chocolate will certainly impair its flavor.
- For optimal preservation of the contents, chocolate bombs should be kept at room temperature. Chocolate ganache, chips, and marshmallow fillings turn rock-hard when frozen, and if you refrigerate your bomb before using it, it will fizzle and fall flat.