Ask the Alchemist #40 and close dates

Before I get to my weekly Ask the Alchemist, I want to let everyone know a few dates that Chocolate Alchemy will be partly closed. I will still be taking order, but I will not be responding to any e-mails or filling/shipping any orders as I will be out on the trail with my daughter for some much needed time off.

6/28/13 – 7/1/13

7/22/13 – 7/26/13 ( a full week)

8/21/13 – 8/24/13


On to  Ask the Alchemist.

My cocoa butter melted. Is it still good?

I’ve had my cocoa bean/nibs for 2 months. Have they gone bad?

With the summer months coming on, this was the perfect set of questions to answer.

And I’m just going to dive into a number of related questions and answers. Yes, we still ship cocoa butter when the weather is hot. Yes, it may melt on the way to you. Over the years I’ve learned to double seal the bags to prevent leaks. And no, the cocoa butter will not be harmed in any way from melting and re-solidifying. In nearly a decade of dealing with cocoa butter, I’ve never seen it go bad. ‘Bad’ usually means rancid, and for whatever reason, I’ve never noticed that to occur in cocoa butter. So, let it melt and set up. No harm. Just shoot for cool and dry for storage.

Roughly, the same information goes for cocoa beans and nibs. They won’t melt during the summer months. Also, they won’t go bad in just a couple months, and really, ‘bad’ is a very subjective term. After some amount of time, which varies from bean to bean, and is related to the conditions they are stored in (cool and dry is again best) cocoa beans don’t spoil. Roasted beans and nibs may well go stale in a month or so, but won’t go bad. Raw beans are stable and easily keep many months if not years. It really varies per bean.

Given how stable both are, refrigeration is not required. There is a not very funny joke about what do you get if you freeze your freshly roasted coffee beans after a month? Cold, stale coffee beans. Contrary to what people want to believe, freezing (of the standard sort) does not radically or magically extend freshness of coffee and cocoa. Why? Basically because it takes MUCH colder temperatures and a lack of oxygen to do that.

And I will toss out one last note about lecithin. See cocoa butter above. It may melt. No, it won’t be ruined by melting. Cool and dry storage.

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