How to Store Cocoa or Cacao (beans or powder)

In baking, cocoa is widely used, which can come in two presentations in beans and powder, so it is essential to know the best ways to store cocoa.

Cocoa beans stored in airtight containers can last one year. For cocoa powder, store it in a plastic or glass container, which will last up to 1 year. 

Store Cocoa

Read on and learn about these ways to preserve cocoa based on your presentation at home.

Main aspects of cocoa storage

Many thinks cocoa and chocolate are the same, but they don’t. The two ingredients are derived from the same plant, but the products differ in taste and nutritional value. In the case of cocoa beans, it is the raw material that has all the properties intact and hasn’t been processed or refined. 

While chocolate is a product already processed, other components such as milk, butter, and others are added. 

To ensure the freshness of your cocoa beans, you should store them in the pantry in airtight containers or fiber bags.

It is essential to avoid moisture and cold temperatures, such as in refrigerators or frozen, since both conditions create humid environments that are harmful to cocoa beans. 

How to store cocoa beans at room temperature

As I’ve mentioned, there is only one possible way to store the cocoa beans, which is at room temperature, since the fridge and the freezer represent too humid environments.

To store cocoa beans, you must do the following:

  • Step 1. Find a plastic or glass container.

Both containers are perfect for storing cocoa powder. You just have to consider that they are completely dry and clean. 

Whichever container you choose, ensure it’s airtight so that moisture, mold, and bacterial growth are away from it.

  • Step 2. Check the cocoa beans.

Before adding the cocoa to the container, you must verify that the beans do not have any damage or presence of mold; otherwise, it will spread across other grains.

  • Step 3. Add the cocoa beans into the container.

Gradually add the selected cocoa beans inside the container. Then close it tightly.

  • Step 4. Label the container.

Write the storage date in the container or stick a label on it. 

  • Step 5. Store in the pantry.

Place the container with the cocoa beans inside the pantry, which must have a humidity of 65% to 70%. Also, the pantry must be completely dark so that the sun’s rays do not damage the grains.

The place where you store your cocoa beans should be away from other products with strong odors since they can penetrate the beans and damage them, as well as heat emission sources.

Using this form of preservation, you can store the cocoa beans for one year.

How to preserve cocoa powder

Have you bought cocoa powder and want it to be preserved for a long time? The first thing that comes to your mind is to put it in the refrigerator or freezer because you think it will last. But unfortunately, the reality shows it is very susceptible to humidity and low temperatures causing it to damage quickly, so do not do it. 

As always, here you have steps to store the cocoa powder.

  • Step 1. Find an airtight container.

The best way to ensure freshness and flavor retention when storing cocoa powder is to keep it in an airtight container, which can be plastic or glass but always ensure that the lid is airtight. 

  • Step 2. Place the cocoa powder inside the container.

When you buy cocoa powder, it usually comes in a plastic bag, so when you open it, it is important to add it to a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid.

  • Step 3. Label the container.

Write the storage date in the container, or stick a label on it.

  • Step 4. Store in the pantry.

You can store it in the pantry or the cupboard; just make sure it is dry, away from direct sunlight and other products with strong odors, and with an average temperature of 20-28°C (68-82°F).

After you have evaluated the conditions and placed your cocoa powder in the pantry, it can remain in perfect condition for up to 1 year. 

How do you know when cocoa is bad?

Unfortunately, cocoa beans and powders can often be damaged, so it is crucial to store them correctly. So how do you know when cocoa is bad? I’ve made a simple list of the symptoms to determine if your product has been damaged. 

  • Cocoa beans and powder have mold in some of their parts. 
  • You can see that there is strange coloration in the cocoa. 
  • The smell of cocoa is rancid.
  • It has an unpleasant taste. 

You can avoid all this if you follow the storage recommendations, managing to extend the shelf life of cocoa by a large percentage. 

How long does cocoa last?

Cocoa beans in plastic or glass containers1 year.
Cocoa powder in the pantry1 year.

Is it safe to consume cocoa after its expiration date?

It is one of the most recurrent doubts we have when preserving cocoa, and the answer is yes. Cocoa can last for several years when stored properly. You can consume it up to three years after its expiration date, but if you don’t eat it within a year, it can start to lose its flavor and potency. 

So, when the product has no noticeable deterioration, you can continue to use cocoa powder or beans in your preparations. First, however, you should check it visually and smell it to determine if it is still edible or not, for this take into account what I told you earlier about the signs of decomposition. 

What is the best way to preserve cocoa?

The best way to store cocoa is at room temperature, ensuring you place them in an airtight container following the guidelines I’ve mentioned above in this post.

The humidity is one of the main enemies of cocoa; therefore, storing it in the fridge or the freezer is not an option.

If you want to see more content about food storage, here you have related posts.

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