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Does Cocoa Powder Go Bad?

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Cocoa powder is often used to compliment baking recipes. Thanks to its rich flavor it can add taste to your bakes without adding lots of fats and sugars too.

Many of us find ourselves buying cocoa powder in generous quantities only to find that there is a considerable amount remaining when we no longer require its use.

Or maybe one day you're browsing through your cupboards and you stumble upon an old container that you purchased some time ago.

Essentially, the question that then springs into most people's minds is whether cocoa powder goes off. If you've bought too much, should you use it all at once or can it be stored in your cupboard until you next require its use?

Cocoa powder doesn't spoil and so if you happen to consume it after it's been sitting inside your kitchen cupboard for a while you needn't worry about it making you ill.

However, cocoa powder will gradually lose its potency and because of this, when added to your recipe, it isn't going to add the same rich flavor that you are likely expecting. 

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What can I make using cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder can be used in many delicious baking recipes. It is great for cakes, frosting, brownies and it can be used to make hot cocoa too.

Many exciting recipes use cocoa powder as a key ingredient. 

How long is cocoa powder going to last?

When stored correctly, in an airtight container, you should expect your cocoa powder to last for around 2 to 3 years. You should try and store your cocoa powder in a cool and dark setting, ideally in its original container.

If you aren't able to store your cocoa powder in its original packaging, it should be stored inside an airtight container. Cocoa powder that has been opened but stored correctly has a shelf life of around 1 year. 

You shouldn't store your cocoa powder inside the fridge as the humidity can result in the development of mold. Some individuals may wish to freeze their cocoa powder. However, this isn't really necessary as doing so isn't going to extend the shelf life far beyond its original expiry date.

If you wish to freeze your cocoa powder ensure that it is stored inside an airtight container. Once you have taken your cocoa powder out of the freezer, the thawing process will occur pretty quickly.

So long as you have stored the cocoa powder correctly, the taste should remain the same and the lack of moisture means that it is still suitable to be added to your recipes as normal. 

How do you know if cocoa powder has gone bad?

To tell when your cocoa powder has gone bad, toss the container, cocoa powder that is near its expiry date is likely to begin clumping.

Foods that have exceeded their sell-by date often begin to develop an off-putting smell. Expired cocoa powder is going to be easy to identify through this odor.

Cocoa powder that has been exposed to moisture is also likely to have developed mold. When smelling the cocoa powder, if it doesn't smell chocolatey this can be a sign that it has gone bad.

For those that remain uncertain, you may wish to taste a little bit of the cocoa powder, if it doesn't taste rich and chocolatey, this could be another sign that it has gone off.

Consuming cocoa powder that has exceeded its shelf life should be avoided because in some cases, it may lead to digestive issues. 

Can you use expired cocoa powder?

While you should avoid consuming cocoa powder that smells particularly bad or has developed mold, cocoa powder that has exceeded its sell-by date but remains in a usable condition needn't be disposed of as it can still be used.

One of the most noticeable differences is likely to be a slight difference in the taste of the cocoa powder.

Some people may choose to use cocoa powder that is significantly past its sell-by date and this means that you can expect it to be the same when added to your recipes except for a slight difference in the chocolatey taste.

What can be made using expired cocoa powder?

There are many uses of leftover cocoa powder, once added to your baking recipes you may have some leftover and instead of storing it, you can use it in other recipes.

If you only have a small amount remaining you may wish to add it to smaller dishes such as mug cakes etc. 

How can you extend the shelf life of your cocoa powder?

As mentioned previously, storing cocoa powder is very important. Storing your cocoa powder correctly is going to ensure that it exceeds its shelf life date and possibly lasts longer.

Cocoa powder that is insufficiently stored is likely to encourage the development of mold and as such, you are going to find that the state of the powder deteriorates quicker.

It is crucial to ensure that your chosen container is airtight and if you aren't going to be keeping it in its original packing it will need to be stored in another airtight container instead. 

Why does cocoa powder go bad?

The main thing that causes cocoa powder to go bad is the compounds that it is made from.

Unlike other ground spices, cocoa powder contains molecules that can cause it to deteriorate quicker. 

Final Thoughts

Although cocoa powder has an impressively long shelf life and it isn't going to cause you to become ill should you consume it past its expiry date, some factors can alert you as to when it is starting to go off.

The shelf life can differ depending on whether the cocoa powder has been opened or remains unopened.

When it comes to storing the cocoa powder, one of the most important things to remember is that it must be stored inside an airtight container.

Any exposure to moisture can lead to the development of mold that can offset the state of the cocoa powder. 


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