How To Store Your Chocolate Bars
One of the most frequently asked questions we are posed when we talk to the members of our Tasting Club or host craft chocolate tasting evenings is ‘What’s the best way to store my chocolate bars?’
This is a great question. We know that part of the fun of opening your monthly tasting box is sitting down and comparing and contrasting the bars you have received. Whether you’re a 100% cacao purist, or a milk chocolate lover, it’s tempting to open up a handful of bars and try a square of each. Tasting to see if you agree with our notes on the bars, and identifying your favourites as you go.
It’s also true that one of the things we love most about craft chocolate is that a few pieces delight and enthuse. As you enjoy craft chocolate you’ll go through a journey where you want to savour and linger. These craft bars are the antithesis of confectionery bars whose taste is all upfront and, just like a crisp or donut, you keep reaching for more. So unlike a confectionery bar where the main question is where can I dispose of the wrapper, with craft chocolate you may well want to put some of the bars aside for the next day. And this leads to a question that is at the heart of the craft chocolate movement: if you’ve opened a bar and want to enjoy it later, what’s the best way to store it? And how long is it likely to last for once it’s been opened?
The good news is that the basic principles of how to store a craft chocoalte bar are super straightforwad: your bars need to be stored in a cool, dry, airtight place that is preferably also dark. This is a huge relief to most people, as it means that they won’t need to make a major investment in a special fridge or humidor in order to protect their bars. Although most bars don’t come in an easily resealable wrapper, most people will already have the perfect container for their open bars at home. In most cases, it’s enough to store bars in a biscuit tin or a tuppaware box, in a pantry or dry goods cupboard.
That changes a little if you have bars with a strong flavour, or with a particular inclusion… Yes, it’s true that mint, orange, caramel, toffee and nut bars are common within the confectionary world, but exactly why this is the case is perhaps less well understood. One lesser known property of chocolate is that it is a fantastic vector for flavour – it’s almost like a chameleon in its ability to absorb the scents and any strong flavours that surround it. This is why its important for bars to be stord in an airtight box – expecially if you’re planning to store them in the same dry store space as you store herbs and spices!
This is all well and good, but we dare say that you’re starting to wonder how to store flavoured bars – the last thing you would want is for your delicately flaovured Peruvian dark chocolate bar to be affected by a bar with pronounced smokey or cinnamon notes. On the one hand, you could insist on a separate box for every bar, but let’s be honest, who has the space or the biscuit tin collection to make this a reality?!
So with that in mind, we created the craft chocolate storage pouches. These dinky pouches may look rather simple, but they’re specifically designed to store a bar (or perhaps two!) at a time. They’re big enough to fit even our most generous bars, and can be fully sealed. They also have a food grade coating to ensure that their contents will be preserved in such a way to taste as good on your last tasting as they did at first bite!
Truth be told, we’d been using them for a number of years to store our own bars when we travelled or went out and about to host mini tastings – they’re just so good at protecting bars from the elements! Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when our members asked us to make them available to them too!
- We’re very keen to minimise waste and make the pouches as user friendly as possible, and, as such we made a couple of conscious choices when designing the pouches:
- We felt that it was important that the pouches were durable enough to be used more than once. By our calculations, the pouches could be used 5-10 times each.
- We have also included a grid on the side of the packet so that you can keep track of its contents, and also each pouch’s previous occupier – afterall, you probbaly wouldn’t want to store a subtly creamy toasted white chocolate bar in a pouch that was previously home to a smoked Papuan bar….
- We also chose pouches that are super compact – we love that they’re neat enough to fit into a bag, so it’s easy to take them with you to share with friends once they’re open.
Another question we’re often asked is: how best to protect bars from extreme temperatures in the height of summers and the depths of winter? If you’re lucky enough to live n a country that enjoys hot summers, we know that it can be only too tempting to pop your bars in the fridge in order to keep them from melting. Perhaps counterintuitively, this isn’t actually a great strategy. Chocolate is super sensitive to changes in temperature. We’re sure that we’re not the only ones who have put a bar of chocolate in the fridge and then found that they are very brittle, and lamst crumbly in texture afterwards. This is because when you put a bar of chocolate in the fridge, the crystalline structure of the bars starts to change. The cocoa butter becomes more solid and once this change has cened, there is a permanent change in the texture of the chocolate that is impossible to reverse.
Instead, it is much better to put your chocolate in a relatively cool dark space. Taking simple steps like keeping the bars off worktops and coffee tables, and instead in cupboards will help to keep them that little bit cooler, without causing a change in the structure of the bars.
It’s also worth noting that, in broad terms, dark chocolate is less susceptible to summertime melting than milk and white, so why don’t you use these summer months to try out some new dark bars?