Storing chocolate

        Chocolate is blessed with natural preservatives that give
        it a long shelf life if properly stored. Cocoa butter
        virtually never turns rancid at moderate temperatures.
        Cocoa solids also seem to have preservative properties.
        The biggest threat to shelf life in milk chocolate and
        white chocolate is the milk fat. Under ideal conditions
        dark chocolate lasts well over a year, milk chocolate
        between six months and one year and white chocolate about
        six months. When storing chocolate make sure it is well
        wrapped, preferably in foil. Place it in a cool spot that
        is dry to the touch and well away from strong odors.
        Perfectionists should look for places where the
        temperature remains between 55� and 65� F and the
        humidity hovers at about fifty percent. Contrary to what
        many excellent cookbooks advise, normal room tempertures
        can and do cause the cocoa butter in chocolate to
        separate out over long periods, the notorious surface
        "bloom." It should also be said that while bloom is not
        aesthetically pleasing and does degrade the"mouth-feel"
        of chocolate eaten straight from the wrapper, chocolate
        that has bloomed is still perfectly suitable for cooking.
        Refrigerators, while cool, can cause chocolate that's not
        properly stored to "sweat." A film of moisture froms on
        the surfce, sometimes dissoving sugar in the chocolate.
        If the chocolate later dries out, a grainy crust of sugar
        is left behind. So when storing chocolate in a
        refrigerator, wrap it tightly in foil, place the wrapped
        chocolate in a plastic bag, and then place the bag in an
        airtight tin or plastic tub. A third option, especially
        for long term storage, is a chest type freezer, not the
        freezing compartment of a refigerator. Chocolate thus
        stored should be allowed to thaw very gradually, first in
        the refrigerator freezing compartment for at least 24
        hours. and then in the refigerator itself for 12-24
        hours. It should remain well wrapped until complestely
        thawed, and should not be refrozen.