“Why that’s silly,” you say. “I’m just going to eat them!” And we entirely agree. But you never know — someday you may need to keep your gourmet chocolates fresh for more than 24 hours. And when that day comes, you’ll find the following pointers useful:
Tips for Storing Your Chocolates
DON'T REFRIGERATE! Chocolate easily absorbs odors of whatever’s in the refrigerator (Roquefort cheese, lamb curry — you get the idea). Moisture in the fridge can also lead to “sugar bloom,” meaning the sugar rises to the surface and discolors the chocolate (which has no effect on flavor, but doesn’t look too appealing). So instead of the fridge:
Store it in a cool, dry place. When chocolate is kept at a consistent temperature below 70°F (ideally between 65 and 68°F), and at a humidity of less than 55%, the emulsion of cocoa solids and cocoa butter will stay stable for months.
But even in a cool, dry place: Remember that cocoa butter (the vegetable fat in chocolate) picks up the smell of whatever’s around it. So unless you want your bonbons and bars to taste like vanilla extract or garlic powder, follow the next rule:
Seal them in an air-tight container. Oxygen does just what you’d expect it to — it oxidizes chocolate, which causes less-than-ideal flavors to develop. And although chocolates are not known to be a favorite food of vampires...
Keep them away from the light! Not just sunlight (unless you want to make fondue), but also artificial light. They both cast the same kind of bad-flavor spell as oxygen does.
Stored this way, chocolate will last a while: Solid milk chocolate keeps for over a year; solid dark keeps for nearly two years; and white for four months. Filled chocolates, such as truffles, keep for about three to four months (unless they’re full of preservatives).
Of course, our chocolates never contain any preservatives or additives, so be sure to eat them while they’re fresh! Or, if you have a large supply, create a candy buffet and invite your friends over to share. (At right, a chocolate buffet adds a perfect touch to weddings and parties.)
Sometimes, you have to refrigerate: Summer’s hot, and not everyone uses air conditioning. But before you put chocolate in the fridge, first wrap it tightly to protect against odors and condensation, then seal it in an airtight container. When you take it out, let it come back to room temperature before unwrapping. This will keep your chocolates edible for anywhere from three to six months.
And if you need to store it longer: For durations of six months to a year, the freezer can be your friend. Follow the instructions above for placing your chocolates in the refrigerator. Once a full 24 hours have gone by, move the container from the fridge to your freezer (this avoids temperature shock, and helps preserve texture). To remove from the freezer — just reverse the steps. Move from freezer to fridge, wait a full 24 hours, remove from the fridge, and let come to room temperature before you finally unwrap them. (Always eat your chocolate at room temperature, especially truffles!)