Does cocoa powder go bad?

You are preparing to bake your favorite chocolate cake. You’ve gathered the ingredients to make sure you have everything you need before you start, and whoosh, the cocoa powder is out of date.

Does cocoa powder go bad? Can that dust make someone sick? Those are the questions that are going through your head right now, and you need answers.

Valrhona cocoa powder and Cadbury cocoa powder

In this article you will find all the information you need about cocoa powder. We review the storage, shelf life and deterioration of this confectionery product. If you find it interesting, keep reading.

How to store cocoa powder

In short, you should store cocoa powder in the same way as other dry goods, such as baking powder or wheat flour. That means you should store it in a cool, dry place. A pantry is ideal, but a kitchen cabinet will also work well.

Once you open the container, the most important thing is to keep it tightly closed.

If your cocoa powder comes in a plastic container that can’t be easily reclosed, consider pouring it into an airtight container. That will keep moisture and any contaminants at bay.

Dark chocolate covered in cocoa powder

How long does cocoa powder last?

Almost all packages of cocoa powder have an expiration date on the label. That date lets you know how long the powder should retain its quality.

As with other dry goods, that date is only a rough estimate. You can easily use the cocoa after that date. As long as you have stored it correctly and it looks and smells good, of course.

Like baking soda, which loses potency over time, cocoa powder loses its flavor over time. This means that your cocoa that is one year past the best before date will probably be perfect, but in the next few years its flavor will degrade noticeably.

If you’re thinking of using old cocoa for a major baking project, give it a try first.
Cocoa powder (unopened or opened) Expiration + 2 years

Please note that the indicated period is only for the best quality. Cocoa powder can be used safely almost indefinitely if you store it properly.

How to tell if cocoa powder is bad

If you notice that there is something wrong with the powder, such as that it has developed a strange odor, there is any organic growth, or large wet clumps, throw it away. Do the same if something else seems wrong to you.

Cocoa powder doesn’t go bad if you store it correctly. If you open the package and see small clumps, you can easily break them up with a fork or sieve.

If there are no visible changes in the powder and it smells good, you can safely use it. Like I said before, if it’s old cocoa, it might not taste as good, but it’s still safe to use.

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