Melting chocolates, also known as candy melts or compound chocolates, lack cocoa butter so they can be melted at high temperatures without tempering the chocolate first. Chocolate melts have a fairly long shelf life, which is a good thing, since they're often sold in large bags. Stored properly, you can expect them to last at least six to 12 months.
The shelf life of melting chocolates varies, depending on the ingredients and storage methods, but most melting chocolates will stay fresh 12 months from the time of production. Depending on how long they sat on the grocer's shelf before you purchased them, you can expect them to stay fresh for six to 12 months, even after you've opened them. The shelf life of confections made with melting chocolates is another story, because you must take into account the other ingredients. Chocolate-covered strawberries, for example, last no more than a day or two, while chocolates containing nuts may last two or three weeks.
To prolong the life of your chocolate melts, place them in a sealed plastic bag or container. A sealed container not only keeps them fresher, but also prevents them from picking up off flavors from other foods in the fridge, freezer or pantry. Keep them in a dry, cool pantry. In warm, moist climates, they should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer because heat and moisture decrease their shelf life.
Melting chocolates are fairly shelf-stable and unlikely to spoil. The first indicator you'll have that melting chocolates aren't fresh is that they don't melt as well. You might also notice a slightly stale taste. The cocoa butter in melting chocolates has usually been replaced by shortening, which has a very long shelf life, or vegetable oil. Discard the chocolates if you notice a rancid taste or odor or see any signs of mold.
The fresher the melting chocolates are when you buy them, the longer they'll last. Look for melting chocolates that have an expiration date printed on the package so you know they're fresh. Be especially careful about buying melting chocolates at the end of the holidays. The chocolates are often deeply discounted, but they may be close to their expiration date. Don't buy more chocolate than you can use within six months.
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