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.