When you buy hot chocolate, the expiry date is probably the last thing on your mind. It’s hard to wonder if the carton of hot chocolate will last the week. Will it expire or go bad? What if you like a cup of hot chocolate once in a while?
Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? It’s a versatile product that can be used in cooking when making chocolate products like cakes and chocolate bombs, and of course, a relaxing cup of hot choco is welcome at any time.
In this article, we will explore hot chocolate, find out if it can be kept for long periods without expiring, and give you the definitive answer to your frequently asked questions.
Let’s get into it.
Chocolate has been around for 4000 years and has some health benefits that we should all benefit from.
Do you know that hot chocolate is packed with flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols, and stearic acid, which are heart-healthy elements found in chocolate, may lower inflammation and raise good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol)
It truly is a fantastic product and has had a bad rap over many decades due to a lack of understanding and the amount of sugar that is added to the product.
Let’s provide you with some answers to your questions.
How long is hot chocolate good for after the expiration date?
It depends. Hot chocolate varies in the amount of chocolate or cacao in the product. The standard container of hot chocolate has a shelf life of around one year if the container is unopened.
When the container is opened, the shelf life reduces significantly to 6 months, and that’s if the container is res sealed and stored in a dry, cool pantry.
If you make yourself a mug of hot chocolate and leave it in the fridge, it will last around three days before spoiling.
What does hot chocolate powder contain that shortens its shelf life?
Not all hot chocolates are the same so let us look at a generic container of hot chocolate that you may purchase for the whole family.
The base of instant hot chocolate or hot cocoa mix maybe cocoa powder, powdered chocolate, or both. Additionally, it frequently contains powdered milk or similar substances, sugar or other sweeteners, stabilizers, and thickeners.
So is it the chocolate cacao or the other ingredients that expire or go bad?
When opened, powdered milk has a shelf life of 6 months, and sugar never expires. It’s reasonable to assume that powdered milk is the main problem in hot chocolate.
How long does it take for 100% Cacao to expire?
Unopened, it has a shelf life of two years, opened and stored correctly will have a shorter shelf life of 18 months.
Why would it expire if 100% chocolate or cacao is intrinsically anti-microbial? It seems to make sense that a product with anti-microbial properties should expire, but the truth is the expiration is different from how you might think it would take place.
100% Cacao is an organic product and, as such, will degrade in time. Organic products start by losing some of their flavor profile, and the rich bitter chocolate taste will become less intense.
Towards the end of its shelf life or expiry date, 100% cacao almost smells and tastes earthy as its unique properties are dissipated over time.
How do you know when hot chocolate goes bad?
Hot chocolate has some tell tackle signs that it is turning bad, which are:
- Hot chocolate may have mold growth on the surface of the powder.
- The flavor profile will have diminished, so it will not taste the same as hot chocolate.
- Fresh chocolate has an unmistakable fragrant aroma. If the aroma is missing, the chocolate has expired.
- The chocolate may become slimy in extreme circumstances.
These changes in the product do not take place overnight, it is a slow process, and the changes are subtle.
Will expired hot chocolate make you sick?
If you think your hot chocolate has expired, don’t eat it!
Eating expired food is potentially hazardous, and while no recorded food poisoning cases are directly associated with eating expired hot chocolate, the practice must be considered frivolous and potentially harmful.
If it smells bad, it is bad. If it looks bad, it’s bad. Apply these rules to hot chocolate, and you should be in the safe zone.
Can you eat expired cocoa powder?
If you apply the golden rule, If it smells bad, it is bad. If it looks bad, it’s probably bad. You should be safe.
However, best before dates are not really expiry dates, and they are an indicator of when the product will be at its very best for consumption, such as the best texture and flavor profile.
A day, a week, or a month beyond the best before date will not affect the hot chocolate significantly, there may be a slight degradation in the product, but it will be hard to notice.
When you remove the lid of the hot chocolate container, there should be an aromatic fragrance. If that is missing, then the flavor is missing, so don’t consume the hot chocolate.
Should you store hot chocolate powder in the fridge?
It sounds like a great idea to store your hot chocolate in the fridge. Indeed the shelf life and expiration must be extended, right?
Nope, it may cause your hot chocolate to expire faster and, if not expire, become unusable.
Storing any powder in the fridge is somewhat a bad idea to say the very least. Fridges and freezers are opened on a regular basis. How many times do you open your fridge door in a day, 20?
Fridges and freezers have a propensity to cause moisture, and moisture in a powder is not good news and could be a recipe for a shortened shelf life of the product.
Once hot chocolate powder becomes moist, molds can easily take hold of a powder surface.
What’s the best way to store hot chocolate powder?
Store in an airtight container is the best method in a cool dark pantry.
How do you store hot chocolate long-term?
Once the hot chocolate is opened, the storage adoption is few. The chocolate must be stored in an airtight container, preferably with a desiccant pouch to absorb moisture.
The desiccant pouch is essential as even airtight containers can be susceptible to moisture ingress that will spoil the hot chocolate powder causing it to go bad.
The ideal storage temperature is 50-60℉ with a humidity level of 60-70%. Both of which are difficult to control.
Is cocoa powder the same as a hot chocolate mix?
It’s a common mistake that most consumers make, but the two products are different in how they are packed and presented to the customer.
Cacao is chocolate in its purest form, with no additives, including sugar and milk substitutes. It’s made from cacao beans. It can also be spelled cocoa.
Cacao has a bitter, intense flavor profile, and you can make hot choc drinks from cacao powder by adding sugar and milk.
Whereas hot chocolate is a mix of cacao, sugar, and dried milk with a few other bulking agents to give the hot chocolate a smooth, rich, creamy flavor that so many people love.
Is hot chocolate good for your digestive system?
The generic sweet version possibly has no health benefits whatsoever, but the darker, richer high, percentage cacao versions of hot chocolate do have benefits.
Dark, unsweetened cocoa powder, in particular, includes flavanols that, when ingested, can turn into prebiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics work together to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
What are the benefits of hot chocolate?
There are many health benefits associated with hot chocolate, but again if you are consuming generic household brands full of sugar, they could have a negative effect on your health.
Consuming hot chocolate with a higher percentage of cacao is beneficial, and you could see some of these benefits:
- Cholesterol. Cholesterol is something we should all be aware of. It causes clogged arteries and is generally bad for you. Hot chocolate reduces cholesterol.
- Hypertension. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate reduces blood pressure. Again, the best effects are from higher Cacao hot chocolate drinks.
- Lowers blood sugars.
- Reduced inflammation. Inflammation is a significant cause of illness among the population.
- Lower risk of heart attacks.
- Lower risk of strokes.
If you are storing hot chocolate, pay attention to the expiration date, it is not an end-of-life date, just an advisory that the hot chocolate is going to degrade from this point forward.
Degrading chocolate loses its flavor profile and, if expired, will taste pretty awful and not smell like chocolate.
If hot chocolate goes bad, it will be through the growth of mold and possibly the contamination of moisture in the air.
The store opened hot chocolate in an airtight container with small desiccant pouches to maximize the product’s life.
Chocolate drinks with a high percentage of cacao have many health benefits for consumers.