Although we don’t usually complain about summer, it seems to be the No.1 enemy of chocolate, so should we store our chocolate in the fridge to protect it?
As the sun shines a little brighter and temperatures heat up, summertime seems to lift everyone’s spirits. However, for chocoholics, summer is the antagonist of their favourite treat; the hot conditions mean any chocolate bars are prone to melt, changing a snappable treat into a melted mess.
To avoid this problem, some may store their chocolate in the fridge so that they can enjoy both summer and chocolate at the same time. However, storing chocolate in the fridge can actually alter the chocolate bar as well; can chocolate-lovers ever win in the summer?
The taste of chocolate
Although you might think storing chocolate in the fridge only alters its texture, refrigerating chocolate can actually impact its taste as well. As cocoa butter absorbs flavours and odours, you could find yourself munching on a chocolate bar which tastes like last-night’s leftovers. Cold temperatures also prevent your chocolate bar from releasing more subtle flavours, meaning you don’t quite get all the nuanced notes of cocoa.
The chocolate texture
Another reason why chocolate shouldn’t normally be stored in the fridge is because it alters its texture: whilst, in the summer, chocolate can melt down to a sticky gloop, putting it in the fridge places it on the other end of the texture spectrum.
Leading food safety expert Belinda Stuart-Moonlight states that chocolate shouldn’t be refrigerated, as it leads to a ‘sugar bloom’. This happens when chocolate is chilled and then exposed to warmer temperatures – the condensation on the surface dissolves some of the sugar which re-crystallises, leaving you with a chocolate which is grainy and has a white surface layer. Any creamy, silky textures which you would have otherwise enjoyed are lost, leaving you with a brittle chocolate bar.
How can you save your chocolate?
So far it seems, in the summer, chocolate fans are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t; the choice between melted, squishy chocolate or hard, granular chocolate doesn’t seem like an easy decision.
However, there are ways to protect your chocolate from the heat of summer. Considering that, for best results, chocolate should be stored in a temperature between 10C-20C, look for any cooler, shady parts of the house to store it in: a basement would be a good option. However, if the whole house seems to be warming up and there doesn’t seem to be another option, you can store your chocolate in the fridge, although you need to take a few precautions to ensure the quality of your chocolate isn’t lost.
Store your chocolate in an airtight container to ensure any unsavoury flavours don’t permeate your chocolate, altering its taste. To ward off the dull flavour and a brittle texture that refrigerating chocolate results in, take your chocolate out of the fridge roughly 30 minutes before eating, although make sure you don’t leave it directly in the sunlight. This ensures your chocolate has time to warm up to the room temperature without becoming a melted mess.
Does this apply to all chocolate?
Although we’ve been warning you against storing your chocolate bars in the fridge, there are times when refrigerating chocolate is a necessity. This is if you want to get creative in the kitchen and use chocolate as a decoration for your baked goods. Whatever design you opt for, you’ll want to melt it down and refrigerate it on a sheet of baking parchment if the ambient temperature is higher than 30C – remember, in the summer, chocolate is much more likely to remain a liquid form at room temperature.
To keep the quality of your chocolate high, you’ll need to temper your chocolate to ensure that it doesn’t become dull and crumbly in the fridge. Whilst this might appear technical, tempering your chocolate is a relatively easy process, and it can be made easier by using chocolate which melts evenly and smoothly. We suggest using chocolate drops – their miniature size means your chocolate melts effortlessly.
Now you know the best way to store your chocolate in the summer, you’ll want to find the best type of chocolate to enjoy in warmer conditions. Whether you opt for fruity chocolates, or a chocolate which is for adults-only, treat yourself to chocolate, whatever the weather.