Let's start off with one of the most important concepts. The fresher the chocolate is, the better it will taste. Buy chocolate in amounts you will consume. That being said, sometimes you're given chocolate, or you buy in bulk for baking or candy projects. You might have some left over. So what to do?
The most important thing about storing chocolate is to keep it in a cool, dry place. If you have chocolate bars or chocolate for baking, wrap the chocolate in plastic wrap, ziploc bag, or plastic storage containers and put it in a dark cupboard or pantry. The ideal temperature is between 60-75 degrees. I usually just stack the bars in the pantry, but my pantry stays cool.
Stored improperly, chocolate can develop bloom (a whitish tint on the chocolate). Bloom appears when chocolate becomes too warm, causing the cocoa butter to separate out, or because condensation has taken place, melting sugar in the chocolate's surface. Don't fear, though. If bloom appears, the chocolate will be o.k. for baking, but for eating, it might not have the same mouth-feel.
How to Store different types of chocolate. First off, I have to say that high end artisan chocolate is different from baking chocolate or commercial chocolate. I personally NEVER store any chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer. I remember giving a good friend 10 fabulous artisan chocolate bars as a gift, only to see her toss them in the freezer for later consumption. No bag, no plastic wrap. I fear that by the time she got to them, they weren't very tasty at all. But a gift is a gift, and I knew the recipient would not take my advice on how to store. I had to let it go.
So if you intend to store chocolate, here are more tips and info:
Since Chocolate keeps best between 65 and 75°F, away from direct sunlight, and protected from moisture, storing in a dark pantry or shelves is best. Then consume the chocolate as quickly as possible.
If you do decide to refrigerate or freeze chocolate, make sure to seal the chocolate in an airtight container (Ziploc baggies are great). Start by storing in refrigerator and then move to freezer. Make sure to take out as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn -- and don't leave the chocolate in the fridge/freezer too long. Tip: Always thaw frozen chocolate in the refrigerator. If it goes straight from the freezer to room temperature, condensation will form and alter the appearance and texture.
A wine refrigerator is perfect. You can reset the temperature and keep bloom off the chocolate. Still, keep your chocolate wrapped up.
Going to use it from the regular refrigerator? Allow chilled chocolate to come to room temperature before eating or baking with it. Tip: You might want to wrap it in a dishcloth after taking it from the fridge .. in order to let it reach room temperature a bit slower.
If you have a lot of chocolate, here are some Ultra-Cool (and efficient) Ways to Store Chocolate from the Candy Blog. I think you'll love the ideas here. Ice packs and thermoses and more!
What questions or tips do you have about chocolate storage?