It’s the middle of the night, and you are hit by a craving for chocolate. You happen to remember there’s a chocolate bar in the fridge.
You unwrap the bar and are about to satisfy your jones when you notice the bar is covered in an odd white growth that looks like mold.
Can chocolate get moldy? Does mold on chocolate get you sick?
No, chocolate does not get moldy. It is practically impossible for that bar of chocolate to grow mold as it lacks the moisture that encourages mold growth. However, it can develop a fuzzy white, chalky layer known as chocolate bloom. Bloom can change the taste of your chocolate, but it won’t make you sick.
That chocolate bar you bought at the store and forgot entirely about cannot grow mold because it does not contain water. Mold requires moisture.
However, if a chocolate bar is exposed to external moisture or varying temperature, it can develop a white layer called bloom, often confused for mold.
Chocolate bloom is just the sugar or fat within the chocolate that crystalizes to give off a grayish-white look. It may look like fungus on chocolate, but it’s not.
We realize you didn’t plan for in-depth reading to see if the chocolate bar you forgot in the counter drawer is still edible after a few months – but trust us, this topic is crazy interesting.
Here’s Why Your Treat Turns White
The white dots on your chocolate do not mean it’s spoiled chocolate; it merely means it’s blooming. Let’s see what bloom is and how it develops.
To understand bloom, you need to know two types of chocolate bloom – sugar and fat.
Sugar bloom occurs when moisture comes into contact with your chocolate and causes the sugar crystals on the surface to dissolve, leaving a powdery white residue on the chocolate that resembles mold or fungus.
On the other hand, fat bloom occurs when chocolate isn’t tempered correctly or is stored in an area where temperatures shift dramatically. This type of bloom has a white-gray appearance and gives the chocolate a soft, powdery texture. It also resembles fungus or mold on chocolate.
While all chocolate manufacturers try to avoid bloom in the production process, they have little control over the storage conditions, in stores, or at home.
Tempering is a tricky process. It involves properly heating and cooling the chocolate. It gives chocolate the desired glossy, smooth finish and prevents it from melting so quickly in your hands.
With brands attempting intuitive ways to compete, some have come up with unique varieties of chocolate. Some of these chocolates have a porous texture created by less tempering. Such chocolates can easily lose the intended texture and flavor. Poorly tempered chocolate is likely to deteriorate faster, resulting in fat bloom.
The Buttery Bloom
Fats aren’t generally interesting, but cocoa butter is a special case. It is one of the rare types of fat that stay solid at room temperature.
The bloom occurs when the chocolate containing cocoa butter melts in storage and solidifies improperly. An example would be a bar of chocolate left out in the sun and then cooled in the refrigerator. It gets that uneven texture and fuzzy white layer.
Those white stains that look like fungus on chocolate are nothing more than cocoa butter.
How Bad Is the Bloom?
Once bloomed, the chocolate has a rather less appetizing look to it. Instead of a lustrous rich brown piece of candy, it has ugly splotches resembling mold.
Rest assured, a bloomed chocolate is still safe to eat and not harmful to your health in any way. So, you won’t regret eating that to satisfy your cravings.
If you are someone with a highly refined palate, you may discover that bar is not up to par in terms of taste and texture. The Blooming of chocolate comes with some loss of flavor.
If you don’t want to eat it, you can still use it for baking, hot cocoa, or other recipes that require melted chocolate.
Fixing that Bloom
Bloomed chocolate is still safe to eat, yet some might find its unappetizing chalky look somewhat off-putting. That’s still not a good reason to throw it out. You can satisfy your chocolate craving after a little DIY fix.
To redeem your spoiled chocolate bar, re-temper the chocolate at home. Melt the chocolate, stir it thoroughly, and pour it into whatever you can use as a mold. Once cooled, you will have sugar and fat mixed back into the chocolate, and Voila! It’s back to its glorious brown color.
Remember! With each re-temper, there will be a minor loss of flavor in your favorite bar of chocolate. This loss in flavor will be most noticeable in the expensive chocolates known for their distinct taste.
Preventing Chocolate Bloom
The most effective way to prevent bloom is to store chocolates in a cool, dry place with a stable temperature. No matter the type of chocolate – dark, white, milk, or cooking chocolate – storage is the key to maintaining taste and texture.
Chocolates are known to absorb flavors from any food that’s nearby. Make sure you seal it tight and store it away from anything with a strong odor.
The ideal storage temperature falls between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of about 50 percent to 55 percent – no more, no less.
When stored properly, you can expect regular store-bought chocolates to last up to six months after the best-before date. Chocolates with less sugar and fat have a far longer shelf life, while chocolate with nuts and wafers don’t.
Damaged Not Spoiled
Is bloomed chocolate damaged?
No, bloomed chocolate isn’t a damaged product. It is okay from the food safety standpoint, but you might notice changes in taste.
The Cocoa Catch: When Chocolate Can Have Mold
Just because a chocolate bar cannot grow mold does not mean cocoa itself can’t either.
Here we are talking about the main ingredient that makes up chocolate. It can have mold developed after the harvest when cocoa beans are drying. If this critical process occurs in damp conditions, with little ventilation, the cacao beans can contain mold and other contaminants.
Most manufacturers pay a premium price to ensure that this post-harvest process occurs with utmost care. Those who skimp on the source to produce cheaper chocolate sometimes use inferior, moldy cocoa to make chocolates.
If you are unlucky enough to get one of those moldy chocolates, it will most definitely taste weird and might even develop a visible mold on the surface after some time.
The Nutty Affair: When Chocolate Goes Bad
The chocolate itself doesn’t provide a very hospitable environment for mold. However, some chocolate bars contain other ingredients that can go bad or even carry mold or pathogens. Studies show that chocolate with nuts generally has a shorter shelf life. Plus, ingredients like fruits and dry fruits are also more likely to trigger allergies or sensitivities.
What seems like mold or fungus on chocolate is most likely just chocolate bloom, caused by either sugar or fat. It won’t make a big difference unless you are very particular about how your chocolate tastes.
However, if you see a growth that you think is mold, then it may as well be mold on chocolate. It can result from faulty packaging and exposure to pathogens during manufacturing or in storage. In that case, throw the bar out and get a new one.
How can you tell if chocolate has gone bad?
Any chocolate that has bloomed has lost a bit of flavor, but anything beyond chalky white texture is well past its consumption date. Cracks and dots on the surface are usually an indicator of stale chocolate.
Can expired chocolate kill you?
Chocolate is a product that doesn’t expire. However, it will eventually lose its taste and texture after a specific time. This stale chocolate can develop cracks or white dots. It may not taste as good as it did the day you bought it, but it will not kill you.
Can you eat 10-year-old chocolate?
Chocolate does not expire, but many bars have other ingredients that can go bad. You shouldn’t eat a chocolate bar that has surpassed its best-before date by a year. Even the packaging doesn’t remain effective after such a long time, and bacteria might contaminate it.
Can you get food poisoning from chocolate?
The chocolate itself cannot cause poising, no matter how old it is. When packed and stored correctly, it doesn’t have moisture to encourage bacterial growth. However, there have been cases of salmonella in chocolate, which resulted in food poisoning and other health issues.
Why shouldn’t you put chocolate in the fridge?
If you have a consistent, cold temperature in your home, you don’t need to put chocolate in the fridge. Refrigerating chocolate leads to sugar bloom. However, most homes cannot provide the right conditions throughout the year, making the refrigerator a better option.