As a classically-trained French chef, Jean-Marie Auboine refined his lifelong passion for chocolate in culinary school. With hard work, he become a master chocolatier, was nominated one of the best pastry chefs in America and placed in the World Chocolate Masters competition. And he learned how to store chocolate so it lasts longer than a Valentine’s Day ballad, the extended version.“Immediately, I fell in love with chocolate and tried to learn more to improve my skills,” he said.
He’s been in the chocolate business for three decades and now runs a successful chocolate boutique in Las Vegas. His sweets are offered at the fanciest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip and beyond.
We talked to Auboine and other experts from coast-to-coast for tips on how to store chocolate at home to preserve the flavor we all love—bittersweet or milk. So be sure to read on, whether you need to stash away some surviving pieces from Valentine’s Day, or preserve a growing collection from trips around the world. Don’t let any of the precious stuff go to waste!
Keep Chocolate Away from Heat
Heat is chocolate’s number one enemy, so be sure to store it out the sun and away from heaters in the winter to avoid a meltdown disaster or reduced quality.
“Heat or temperature fluctuations will cause ‘bloom’,” said Stan Weightman of Valerie Confections, an award-winning Los Angeles chocolate boutique. “(Heat) will cause the fats and sugars to separate, which causes a whitish appearance or ashy, speckled color.”
For long-term chocolate storage, the optimal temperature is 65 degrees, he says.
“If you’re going to eat the chocolate within a week or two, you shouldn’t have a problem storing it around the house,” said Heather K. Terry, a former Broadway actress who left the stage to start two successful chocolate and pastry companies.
“But if you wait a month or two, you’ll start to see the separation of the fats, because of prolonged temperature changes.”
Do Not Store Chocolate in a Standard Fridge or Freezer
Due to cool temperature and high humidity, refrigerating and freezing chocolate in a standard household fridge will diminish the flavor. Store it in a drier place like a cupboard or pantry.
“The temperature is too low (in a refrigerator) and there’s a lot of cocoa butter in the chocolate, which will retract and make it crack,” said Auboine.
Most chocolate will have an expiration date on the package, and it’s good to abide by it, especially if you aren’t storing in ideal temperatures. For gourmet chocolates without an eat-by date, a good rule of thumb is the fewer the ingredients, the shorter the lifespan.
“Hersey isn’t making things that will expire in our lifetime; the nut will likely go rancid before the chocolate does, but the timeline is shorter for gourmet varietals,” said Weightman.
Store Chocolate like Fine Wine
If you are lucky enough to own a wine refrigerator, this is best place to store chocolate because of the controlled humidity and temperature.
“In the summer, we have a wine fridge and wine room that has humidity control and stays 65 degrees at all times,” said Terry. “It’s pretty ideal for chocolate.”
The best humidity range for chocolate storage is between 60 and 70 percent, she said.
Chocolate has a lot of qualities of wine, too, and it can even be aged! Enjoying them together may be a life-changing experience worth trying, as well.
“If it stays perfectly wrapped, a chocolate’s flavor profile will be completely different in just a few months,” said Auboine.
While rummaging through her small wine closet, Terry recently found a stash of stored sweets.
“I pulled out a bunch of chocolate that I’ve had down there for 3 years, and they’re perfect,” she said.
Stash Chocolate Away from Strong Odors
The cocoa butter in chocolate easily absorbs flavors, so do not store chocolate next strong-scented items like that Valentine’s Day bouquet or a bag of onions in the pantry.
“Chocolate is one of these ingredients that lends itself to transferring flavor of other things,” said Terry. “You don’t want to put chocolate next to anything you don’t want it to taste like.”
Storing chocolate next to a bag of coffee might not be so bad, though!
And don’t worry about repackaging chocolate.
“Chocolate arrives the way you want to store it for a long time,” said Weightman.
“The paper, glue and everything inside a chocolate box doesn’t have a smell or flavor, so they will stay perfect,” said Auboine.
Chocolate can have a multitude of flavors, depending on where it came from, so make sure to try as many types as you can, and often.
And with these tips, you can buy extra and store the new chocolates that you love!
“Be adventurous,” said Terry. “Find what flavors you like, and explore the world through chocolate.”