We’ve all been there. Just when we wanted to make some chocolate cake, cookies, or even a glass of milkshake, we’ve realized that the cocoa powder has been stored for too long in the cupboard. And the dilemma of whether or not to use it – it’s real!
Well, we’ve got you covered. Almost all of your queries regarding expired cocoa powder will ultimately be answered in this article.
Read on to find out if cocoa powder goes bad, its shelf-life, and what happens if you consume baked goods made using expired cocoa powder.
Does cocoa powder go bad?
Like most dried goods, the cocoa powder doesn’t go bad. But remember, it does lose its potency over time.
So, if you’re in the middle of making batter for some delicious chocolate cupcakes and you suddenly realize that the cocoa powder that has been lying on your shelf for months or even a year has expired, we’d say don’t stop!
However, the flavor might be somewhat off in the baked good made using a less potent cocoa powder that had been stored for years, even past its expiry date. So, for rich chocolaty aroma and flavor, the fresher the cocoa powder is, the better!
How long does cocoa powder last?
Well, we’ve already shared the good news with you – cocoa powder doesn’t go bad. But does it lose quality over time? It does. So, how long do you have before the aroma and the flavor of the expired bottle of cocoa powder starts fading away?
Generally, cocoa powder maintains its taste and quality up to 2 years past its expiry date. However, it might taste fine and delicious even way past that. As we’ve said before, it mostly depends on how you have been storing this healthy baking ingredient.
Moreover, even if the cocoa powder isn’t at the best of its flavor, it only means that the quality has degraded, meaning – it is still safe to consume. So, if the cocoa has been resting on your pantry shelf for too long, you don’t have to toss it out unless you’re not okay with compromising on taste.
Nevertheless, though rare, the cocoa powder can go moldy sometimes. If it does, make sure to check on other dry goods that you’ve been storing as there might be some fault in your storage process.
Most likely, the packaging must have been not airtight enough, thus introducing moisture inside of it. If you witness such a moldy bottle, it would be best for you to toss the bottle right away.
Cocoa powder shelf life
Cocoa powder (Unopened)
|‘Best by’ + 2 years|
|Cocoa powder (Opened and stored correctly)|
3 Tips to tell if the cocoa powder has gone bad
As we know, if stored improperly and for too long, cocoa powder loses its quality over time. And in a worst-case scenario, it might even go bad, i.e., moldy.
Well, if you’re trying to figure out if the cocoa powder in your pantry has gone bad, here are a few tips that might help you in reaching a decision.
1. Off smell:
If the cocoa powder doesn’t smell chocolaty enough, it’s an indication that it won’t do the job right. So, if you’re looking forward to making some rich chocolate cupcake but your cocoa doesn’t smell powerful enough, it might be time you add cocoa powder to your grocery list.
2. Off flavor:
When it comes to food, the best way of knowing if the food is in the best state is tasting. So, if your nose didn’t do enough justice, it’s time to taste the cocoa powder. If the baked goods or cocoa powder itself doesn’t taste great, it’s time to trash the bottle.
3. Mold growth:
Moldy cocoa powder is not something you witness often. But, when you see one, you’ll immediately recognize it. So, if you notice any signs of mold growth, such as whitish coloration or moldy smell, trash the bottle immediately.
Once you see any such sign, don’t risk your health by trying to sniff or taste the cocoa powder. Molds often secrete toxins, which develop allergic reactions and respiratory problems in some individuals. So, a bottle of cocoa powder, most probably a bad one, is not worth the risk.
2 Tips to store cocoa powder
Unlike fruits and vegetables, dried goods such as spices and cocoa powder don’t have a strict set of rules when it comes to storage. The tips are minimal yet essential. So, if you’re wondering how you can best store the cocoa powder, here are a few tips for you.
1. Keep it in a dry and cool place:
Moisture, as we all know, is the best friend of molds. So, the cocoa powder must always be kept in a dry place. Refrigerator and freezer must never be your first choice of storage when it comes to cocoa powder.
60-70°F is the best temperature to store cocoa powder. Storing the bottle in a cool place in your pantry will do the job.
As the temperature goes too high, the cocoa powder will likely lose its flavor and aroma more rapidly. So, a place where direct sunlight hits is also not an ideal place for cocoa powder storage.
2. The container must be airtight:
This tip applies to almost all the food items. Leaving the lid open elevates contamination rate and moisture content in the food, thus speeding up the spoilage process. Though not as intense as in wet food, the case is the same for cocoa powder.
So, always make sure that the container is airtight. If the freshly bought cocoa powder has come in plastic packaging, you must pour it into a jar instead. If you’re using plastic bags for storage, press the bag to release all the air and then seal the bag.
The risk of consuming expired cocoa powder
As we’ve said before, the best by date is merely an indication of safety. It means that the food is of top-notch quality until the date. Contrary to this fact, some food products, including cocoa powder, retains their quality much longer than the printed date on the packaging.
So, you’ll probably get to enjoy both the flavor and smell of the expired powder in your baked goods and feel no health discomfort at all.
In the next case scenario, though you’ll experience no health risks, the flavor and the aroma of the expired cocoa powder might not be very pleasing. Thus, you might experience some discomfort while eating the items that were supposed to be delicious.
Finally, there’s another case where you might fall sick after consuming expired cocoa powder. However, this case scenario is infrequent, and the risks are very minimal. As we know, cocoa powder, having significantly less water content, isn’t prone to bacterial and fungal growth.
As an exception, if the storage condition is not optimal, mold might grow in the bottle. So, if you consume such cocoa powder, there’s a slight chance you might experience mold-related health complications.
However, as most of the cocoa recipes include baking the recipe at high temperatures, consuming expired cocoa powder shouldn’t worry you at all.
Can you freeze cocoa powder?
Though the answer to this question is ‘Yes, you can freeze cocoa powder’, freezing cocoa powder is unnecessary. When you freeze any food, the water content within the food freezes into ice crystals and thus, becomes unavailable to microorganisms for their growth.
But when it comes to dry goods such as spices or cocoa powder, the moisture content is very low or almost absent. So, the chances for spoilage in such goods is already very low compared to high water content foods such as vegetables and fruits.
Cocoa powder is stored safely and properly, lasts you years even when kept in your cupboard at room temperature. Moreover, refrigeration and freezing, if done improperly, might result in lumping of the powder, and elevated moisture content might encourage mold growth.
However, if you’ve bought cocoa powder in bulk, and you’re confident that you won’t finish using it for a year or two, you can freeze the cocoa powder. When you do so, make sure that the freezer bag is properly sealed and there’s as little air inside the bag as possible.
But make sure that you won’t be taking out and refreezing the powder often. Doing so elevates the chances of lumping of the cocoa powder and mold growth. You can store the cocoa powder you’ll be using for a year or two in your pantry cupboard and freeze the remaining.
Unless you’re an avid baker, cocoa powder is not something that is religiously used in our kitchen. But there are plenty of other ways to utilize cocoa powder, be it making some chocolate milkshake, or making a dip for some strawberries.
If you’re trying to figure out if your cocoa powder is safe to consume, you probably don’t need to toss the bottle out unless it is moldy or has been stored for a really long time!