Cocoa powder is one of those ingredients that isn’t really dipped into that often. This is doubly true during the hot summer days. However, it is quite common, on the first cold day of the year to find yourself craving a hot cocoa only to come face to face with a tub of it that is practically a relic. So, what do you do? Do you hope for the best and go with it, or do you discard the tub and go to the store to get a new one? A lot of questions come to mind, the most important of which will likely be “will using this make me get sick?”
The truth is that a lot of these questions depend on how exactly the cocoa powder was stored in the first place, or whether it is opened or not. For example, there is a guy on YouTube who has a channel called ‘Steve1989MREInfo’. This guys’ whole bit is to examine and eat old military rations, which are sometimes decades old. One thing that frequently comes up is our friend cocoa powder, which in nearly every eventuality seems to have survived the passage of time totally unharmed. This is due to the fact that it has been incredibly well-sealed and likely kept at the right temperature. Now, we’re not suggesting that using decades-old cocoa powder is a good idea, but it does hint at how long it can last if stored correctly. So, with that in mind, we decided to see how long cocoa powder will stay good for, and how to check for the signs that it has gone bad.
Also Read: Simple Cocoa Oat & Date Bars, Sea Salt & Cacao Nib Brownies (+ Brownie Sundaes with Whiskey Pepper Chocolate Magic Shell)
Table of Contents
,The Best Way to Store Cocoa Powder
Finding the best way to store cocoa powder is something quite a few of you may have already instinctively have done without even having to think about it. In a way, the best way to consider cocoa powder is like any other dry goods that you would have in the home. Like you would with baking powder, for example, the trick is to keep it away from the elements that stand to damage it the most. Air, sunlight, and moisture are the major culprits here. Any of them can totally destroy a tub of cocoa powder in no time flat. So, even when the tub is full, it is best to err on the side of caution and put it in the back of the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet away from the cooker and sink.
Naturally, as soon as the container has been opened, the cocoa powder inside will start to fade at a much quicker rate. This can only be prevented to a degree. If the packaging is good and robust, the best move is to make sure it is firmly closed and return it back from where it came after use. However, if the packaging is in any way flimsy, we would instead recommend transferring the contents to somewhere more secure. To give it the best chance of survival, try using an airtight Tupperware container.
How Long Does Cocoa Powder Last?
Like with most powdered products, your cocoa powder will have been bought complete with a sell-by date on the label. In some cases, this date can be pretty generous, in other cases, it can be as short as a couple of months. The good news is that this date can really be best considered as a rough estimate. The fact of the matter is that you can still enjoy a quality cocoa long after the suggested sell-by date. The only caveat to this is that it needs to be stored correctly, of course. In terms of how long it will be usable for, you can really consider this in terms of years as opposed to weeks. Cocoa powder is an incredibly resilient product in that regard. The only thing that you should watch out for and be aware of is that eventually, the quality will begin to fade. In the next section, we will show you how to identify when cocoa powder has lost its potency or gone off entirely.
Signs That Your Cocoa Powder May Have Gone Off
A tub of cocoa powder can go off at any point in its life. A tub that is still within its sell-by date can go off just as easily as an ancient example if it has been exposed to the wrong environment. Luckily, telling when this has happened is a pretty straightforward process. The first sign that something should be amiss is if the texture isn’t quite right. By manipulating the contents of the tub a little bit, you should be able to scour around for any wet-looking clumps. If you notice any of these, this means that moisture has found its way in at some point. Mold is another sign that moisture has gotten in. In both cases, you are unfortunately left with no other option other than to discard it entirely. Don’t try to dig around and save anything, just replace it.
Asides from this, the only thing you need to be looking for is whether or not the cocoa powder has retained any of its quality. There are few things worse than hot cocoa that just tastes kind of dusty and wrong. Luckily, there is a way of identifying whether this has happened or not before it comes to tasting. All you need to do is examine it a little. If the texture is right, and the aroma is appealing, then you’re on to a winner!
Can Cocoa Powder be Frozen?
The answer to this question is a definite yes. However, perhaps the real question should be ‘should’ I freeze cocoa powder? In this case, the answer is a resounding no. Freezing cocoa powder isn’t really necessary as it won’t do anything to extend the lifespan in the long run. It also takes up valuable space in the freezer that could be better used for something else. However, in incredibly hot climates there may be a logic to using the refrigerator to store your cocoa powder. Cocoa powder doesn’t deal well with heat and can actually go rancid if exposed to too much of it. If you have concerns about this, the best call is to use an airtight container and to store it in the fridge.
Cocoa Powder Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Question
Is cocoa powder vegan?
Cocoa powder is made by processing cacao beans under high heat. There are no other ingredients involved in the process if it is done in the traditional way. So, if you’re looking to divulge in 100% pure cocoa powder, it is totally vegan.
Is cocoa a fruit?
Cacao seeds are considered to be a “super fruit” due to their antioxidant properties and a broad range of associated health benefits. So, not only is cocoa considered a fruit; it is also quite a bit special.