Chocolates are outrageously expensive during the season but the day after they're needed they can be found in the clear out bins at 50% off. If they're not sold after 2 weeks you can find them clearing out at 75% off or more!
What most people don't know is that if stored properly solid chocolate that is milk chocolate or white chocolate can be stored for a full year with no harm to its quality. So yes you can stock up now and enjoy them a year later.
Most chocolates are made up of sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla, and natural or artificial flavours. Cocoa butter (which is a natural vegetable fat) is solid at room temperature and it melts at mouth temperature.
Because of this it is very important to store solid chocolate at a cool temperature. Never store chocolate in the refrigerator as this will cause a white or grey "bloom" on the surface. This is a result of the cocoa butter separating and rising to the surface of the chocolate. Refrigerating chocolate might also make it "sweat" where condensation builds up on the chocolate. While bloomed and sweated chocolate is fine to eat and bake with it will taste a little bit dull and it looks very unattractive so most people will assume there is something wrong with it.
Solid chocolate should ideally be stored in a cool, dry, sealed, odor free area away from any sunlight or heat and where little fingers (and big fingers) can't find it. It can not be stored anywhere humid because it will bloom or where there are any odors like spices, onions, or cleaning supplies as the chocolate will absorb their odors. Sunlight or heat will of course melt it.
Keep chocolate in its original wrapping and place in a sturdy sealable plastic container. Don't store anything else other than chocolate in this container, such as hard candies because they might have a high moisture content that could make the chocolate bloom or sweat.
Wine cellars are ideal for storage but wine 'fridges can be a bit too humid. If you are storing your chocolates in a closet, even if they are in a sealed container, make sure there is no odor of moth balls, perfumed sachets or any mustiness.
This storage technique is only good for solid chocolates as filled chocolates in chocolate boxes might have ingredients that will go stale or bad before the chocolate does. Chocolate boxes can be stored in the same conditions (but not the same containers) as solid chocolate for 2 to 3 months with no harm to their quality.Chocolate boxes bought after Christmas sales can be kept until Valentine's and chocolate boxes bought after Valentine's can be eaten at Easter.
Remember that gifts of chocolate are appreciated throughout the year for birthdays and anniversary gifts. While a heart shaped box of chocolates really is only appropriate at Valentine's, a foil covered heart would be nice to give as part of a gift at an anniversary, bridal shower or engagement party.
Chocolate letter, which can sell for as much as $4.99 can go on sale for as little as 39 cents. These are great to give out on birthdays or a single letter can look great on top of a homemade birthday cake.
Buying chocolate at 75% off its original cost can be a wonderful savings but only if you actually save the chocolate and not eat it and then have to buy more at full price later on.
Not everyone has the proper conditions in their home year round to store chocolate (or the will power not to eat it) but if you do this is a great money saver for all those great chocolate treats that make holidays special.
Photography and Content
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2009