Cocoa powder is a delicious substance and product that originally comes from the popular chocolate liquor but only after the actual cocoa butter has been separated from the liquor. After the butter is separated from the liquor / liquid, what’s left over is commonly known as cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is often unsweetened but is a potent ingredient that is used for cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and other kinds of baked goods. Adding the powder to these foods allows the consumer to taste the chocolate and all of its’ goodness and flavor. It is also added to chocolate ice cream and any kind of chocolate candies whether they be sweetened or unsweetened. Since cocoa powder is widely used as an ingredient in many different kinds of recipes for food items, it should also be widely available in your local supermarket. If you’re at your local food market one day and you see a big sale on cocoa powder being sold in containers, what should you do? Would it be worth the savings in time and money by buying some of these containers in bulk? Would you be able to store the product properly for the long-term without any problems? The ultimate question remains; does cocoa powder go bad?
Does Cocoa Powder Go Bad Or Expire?
With proper storage conditions, cocoa powder doesn’t really go bad but it rather loses its flavor. Coca powder usually doesn’t have an expiration date, instead of having a ” best before” or “used by” date. This means quality, rather than safety. Instant hot chocolate mixes do go bad because they contain powdered milk. By reading through this article and learning more about properly storing the cocoa powder, how to best extend its’ shelf life, and the signs to look for in order to tell if your product has gone sour or not are all important items to read up on.
You should keep in mind that there are two kinds of cocoa powder that differ in terms of their ingredients and their likely shelf life. Natural cocoa powder, which is made by separating chocolate liquid from the cocoa butter and Processed cocoa powder, which is very similar but has baking soda (alkali) added to it, and creates a darker color and stronger flavor. In this article, we’ll be focusing mainly on natural cocoa powder since its’ more common and gets better storage results.
Storing The Cocoa Powder
The most important thing to consider when it comes to storing the cocoa powder properly is to make sure that it’s located in a cool, dark, and dry place. You want to keep the product away from any heat, sunlight, water, oxygen, and other outside elements as this will affect the texture and flavor of the cocoa powder and cause it to go bad prematurely. The best places for storage would be any kitchen cabinet or pantry. You could also consider putting it in an attic or wine cellar if that is a possibility.
To keep it in good condition, you’re going to also want to make sure that its’ tightly sealed even after opening the cocoa powder for the first time. You should continually check to see if the seal or cap is in good working condition and isn’t broken. Exposure to light and water will cause the cocoa powder to grow bacteria, lose its’ flavor and cause its’ quality to go bad prematurely. Using common sense by sealing the cocoa powder tightly and keeping it dry will go a long way in helping the storage process be an overall success.
Shelf Life of Cocoa Powder
Every container of cocoa powder comes with a “Use by” or “Best before” date. It’s important to remember that this is not really an expiration date but rather the day when the quality of the product will begin its’ inevitable decline. You should be able to use your cocoa powder for a few months or even up to a year after this date passes as long as you store the product properly as discussed earlier in the article. Be sure to use your discretion and examine the cocoa powder to see if there is any mold or bacteria growing. If that’s the not the case then you should feel at ease using the cocoa powder for a long time.
Its’ general shelf life can be two to three years after purchase with proper storage. If you use good judgment and look out for noticeable signs of bad cocoa powder, you should be able to enjoy the product for a couple of years.
Signs of Bad Cocoa Powder
There are a number of signs to look out for when checking to see if your cocoa powder has gone bad or not. First, it’s important to focus on the physical appearance of the cocoa powder and you should see if there’s any discoloration or mold forming. If there’s bacteria or clumps forming in the texture, then that’s a good excuse to toss your cocoa powder in the trash. Also, another test you can do is to smell the cocoa powder to see if the odor is still the same or if a pungent, foul-smelling odor has developed. If it’s the latter, I would be wary of keeping the cocoa powder.
If you’re still not convinced and want a surefire way to tell if the product is good or bad, You should do a small taste test of the cocoa powder with a spoon. A small taste test wont make you sick and you can tell if the cocoa still tastes like chocolate or if the flavor has deteriorated or not. Each of these three tests will do a good job in summarizing whether or not you should keep using your cocoa powder into the future.
Cocoa powder can go bad on you but it can also last for a while if you use proper precautions and steps. It’s best to use it in moderation when adding the powder onto cakes, cookies, and other food products. In addition to being delicious, cocoa powder is also very healthy because it contains natural oxidants. In order to get the most out of the product for years to come, store the cocoa powder in a cool, dark, and dry place and remember that it must be sealed at all times. Enjoy this delicious addition to your baked goods and remember to not eat too many cookies!