Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Long Term Storage of Chocolate: Chocolate's Role in Preparedness


       Those of you who know me well know that chocolate is one of my favorite foods.  I may not eat a lot of it, but a small square of the good stuff with a cup of tea can be a very welcome pick-me-up. My safe was empty for many years with the exception of a couple of foil wrapped bars of Cadbury's milk chocolate.  Most women, and an awful lot of men find chocolate to be an important comfort food. There is also a lot written about chocolate being a potent mood elevator.  Chocolate can also be an excellent survival food from a standpoint of providing quick palatable calories particularly during periods of high caloric expenditures during extreme cold or high mandatory activity, as might occur during an evacuation where they could be a large amount of hiking..

               Sadly, chocolate in bar form does not last well in the long term.  The fats in chocolate over time, turn rancid.  Mold in the form of white dots and other markings can also form on the chocolate. Some brands are more likely to grow mold than others.  Other items added to the chocolate, like nuts, raisins, etc. can also age and leave the chocolate inedible. Although chocolate rarely grows bacteria, we should not eat chocolate that is contaminated with mold or has turned rancid.   I have been experimenting for years to lengthen the storage time of chocolate.   At first, I would buy bars of chocolate during the Autumn (when it's less likely to melt). Then, I would double wrap the bars in their original packaging in two layers of aluminum foil.  Then, I would store them in a cool dry place.  The safest place for chocolate in my home, away from my many children was inside the safe. This also kept the chocolate from me for extended periods. Fresh bars of Cadbury's and the better brands of chocolate will last for as long as twenty-four months.
                Refrigeration of chocolate can lengthen its freshness, but I have abandoned doing this because even when the chocolate is returned to room temperature, having refrigerated it may impact its texture.

These are other brands of high quality chocolate with a good shelf life.   (About 24 months by my own experimentation in the American South.)  Dark chocolate does seem to last longer than milk chocolate:

Elite Chocolate is available in milk and dark chocolate.

 Elite Chocolates from Israel   (Can also be purchased at Giant Grocery Stores, Kroger, and others.).

Toblerone will also last 24 months.  I have misplaced or hidden bars of Toblerone for Christmas stockings for that long !

   Dark Milka, Hersheys and Nestles plain chocolate can also last for almost 24 months if purchased fresh and kept in a cool dry place.


                I am also told that dark chocolate chips if kept in a cool dry place will also last as long as 24 months.

                Other friends and chocolate officionados have tried to lengthen the life of their chocolate bars by freezing, sealing with an airtight plastic packaging system, etc.    Freezing seems to disrupt the texture of chocolate (just as it does cheese) and so it is not a recommended way of preserving chocolate.   The "Seal a Meal" or similarly styled systems do help, but they don't lengthen the survival time of chocolate bars beyond the twenty-four months I already receive from wrapping them in double aluminum foil and storing them in a cool dry place.

                 There are a couple of other ways we might be able to enjoy chocolate in a long term storage sense even if our chocolate bars must be consumed within about twenty-four months. You can purchase ready made cans of chocolate pudding in #10 sized cans.  These are quite good and I once bought one for a family reunion. However, once opened this ready made product is opened, it  needs to be consumed within a day or two, and so they aren't really practical for families who aren't planning an actual event where most or all of the cans contents would be consumed that day.

This is ready made chocolate pudding and will store for a couple of years.  You can buy this at any grocery store which stocks institutional sized (#10) cans of food. Some Wal-Marts stock this.

           Many of the freeze dried preparedness food companies sell a #10 can of chocolate pudding mix.   Such cans last as long as ten years unopened and should be reconstituted within one year once they are opened.  These are wonderful because they allow you to mix and reconstitute as much or as little as you need, even just one portion a day, if need be.  Some companies sell a freeze dried container which is smaller than the #10 sized, and would be useful for a one or two person household or for backpacking.

Most freeze dried major suppliers sell a number ten can of chocolate pudding to be reconstituted with water.  This one comes from Nitro-Pak.    Buy it Here

This is a number ten can of cocoa powder.  Most lines of freeze dried and food preparedness websites sell cocoa powder.  This one has a stated life of 20 years. Buy it here

A great thing to have in your supplies.  Buy It Here

              There are some other ways that you and your family can enjoy the taste of chocolate in emergency situations.    Augason Farms sells a product called Spiff-e-Whip.   It's most common purpose is to be reconstituted as per package directions and used as a topping for cakes, puddings or hot chocolate.  However, there are some other things we can do for our family chocolate addicts.   This product will last ten years in the can, and should be consumed within one year when opened.

Spiff-e-Whip Page 

These are recipes for chocolate icing and for chocolate mousse using Spiff-e-whip and cocoa

You may also experiment with this product in order to come up with some reduced calorie or controlled sugar recipes of things you already make.

This is a #10 can of brownie mix.  It will last many years unopened, and should be consumed in a year once it is opened. Buy It Here.

This is an Augason Farms chocolate cake mix which is gluten free. It lasts ten years unopened but should be consumed within one year once opened.  Pictured is the everyday sized can.   Buy It Here.    

               Certainly, we all have much more important and concerning issues to consider in preparedness than luxury foods. However, keeping a remnant of our normal lives prior to the disaster can be a psychologically very positive thing for both spouses and for our children, especially on special occasions such as birthdays.  So, direct your attention to the essentials of water, food, shelter, and medical supplies, but when you can, think about the small items which help to spell security and comfort for individuals, and especially for families.

Once Again, I have absolutely no business interests whatsoever in any of the brands or products mentioned in this post.  These are simply brands and types of products I have tried and have used. I encourage you to explore other brands also.