Does chocolate have an expiration date? Chocolate generally does not have a reputation of expiring food, and therefore this issue is not addressed in any significant or loud way. According to current legislation, dark chocolate is marked with a minimum shelf life, usually 2 years, milk and white chocolate 1 year. It is logical, milk and white chocolate contain milk, which is certainly more prone to expiration than the purely vegetable components that otherwise make up chocolate.
In the case of chocolate, similarly to coffee, durability is mainly affected by fats, which over time begin to turn rancid, ie. oxidize. As a result, chocolate is required to be stored and transported with minimal air access, so chocolates are packaged in foil that protects the chocolate without compromising the impression of luxury or experience, as can be the case with cellophane or other plastic packaging. Chocolate in plastic is seen as inferior, although I have seen great chocolates wrapped in plastic. True, not in Europe, the emphasis on the aesthetic side there is far greater than in the rest of the world.
Furthermore – the contained cocoa butter or sugar crystallizes on the surface over time and also creates an unattractive but completely harmless coating – the so-called fat or sugar bloom. This can also be caused by incorrect storage, eg. in moist conditions. I deliberately chose chocolate for the introductory photo, on which the sugar bloom is already visible.
And the taste
However, oxidation of fats or the mentioned efflorescence is not what will ruin your chocolate after months of storage. At home, I sometimes find a piece of chocolate that I brought every time, maybe 5 years ago, and you can still eat it. However, there can be no question of any great experience, because – and I consider this the most striking reason – the aromatic substances that were already formed in the beans during fermentation and roasting flowed out of the chocolate. It just doesn’t smell or taste good anymore. The best was gone to the air.
And that’s why I don’t recommend storing chocolate for two years or a year, but rather a few months at most. Again, a parallel with coffee – the best is as fresh as possible, archived chocolate is not what we want.