Aging chocolate - what is the real taste of my chocolate?

07/19/16 02:30:46AM
52 posts

There is no doubt that the chocolate continue to crystallized couple of days after moulding, hence, the texture will change, this is obvious.
The strongest taste changing is in my white chocolate, after two weeks the sweetness decreased.
I tried to put 1% of coffee in my white chocolate, couple of days after the taste was strong coffee with aftertaste. After 10 days the coffee taste is almost unnoticed.

So I wondering, how long do I need to keep my chocolate in order to evaluate his real taste?
And why it is all happen, is not 100% clear?


Clay Gordon
07/19/16 02:50:44PM
1,680 posts

Y -

Most chocolate is made to be eaten more or less immediately, or manufacturers rely on the length of the supply chain (typically months between when a chocolate is made and it ends up on a shelf to be sold) to take care of aging. I think this is one of the reasons that there has not been a lot of research into what happens to the flavor of chocolate as it ages.

I was speaking with an expert on this a couple of weeks ago, and was told that it takes 6-8 weeks for most chocolates to achieve reasonable stability (defined as ~80% of expected flavor change). My own experience suggests that chocolates made from beans with lower levels of fermentations and/or lower roast levels requires more aging than chocolates made from  beans meeting the 80% well-fermented "standard" and that have been roasted harder.

I have not come across any research that explains what happens, but chemical changes are happening, and, as the chocolate continues to crystallize, the release of flavors is also affected.

The answer to the question, "How long?" can only be determined by experimentation using your recipes. I had a chocolate made with Mexican pimienta about 48 hours after it was made and then 10 days after it was made and the flavor of the pimienta was more pronounced, not less.

clay -
07/20/16 05:13:32AM
52 posts

First, thank you for your answer.
I didn't found and scientific facts about this phenomena in "Minifie, B.W.-Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery Science and Technology" for example.
The fact that is takes around 2 months is interesting..
I observed more pronounce aging in the white chocolate, probably because of the very high milk powder content.
Now, after you shed some light on the subject: I assume that the chemical reactions takes weeks to achieve equilibrium, the kinetics in the chocolate is slow because is solid state diffusion (except for the 5-20% of liquid cacao butter in room temperature)..
Hence, in high room temperature ~28C (in my house) the diffusion is faster and it takes around 10-14 days.

Interesting issue..

07/20/16 04:50:06PM
754 posts

When you temper chocolate, you're converting some % of your liquid cocoa butter to solid cocoa butter crystals.  Much of it actually remains liquid, even after you've demoulded your chocolate.  It may look solid - and much of it is - however there's still a very significant portion of cocoa butter that remains fluid.  Over time, some of that liquid cocoa butter will continue to crystallize.  It never, ever, fully crystallizes (there will always be some portion of liquid cocoa butter - it will be much more than you think!).

Why is this important?  Because how fat melts is important to how flavor releases.  As you've already noted, the chocolate you demould today tastes different than that exact same chocolate 30 days from now.  Why?  It's predominately because of the above mentioned crystallization kinetics.  There's a couple of other reasons, to be sure, but that one has the largest impact.

All chocolate (that does not have inclusions in it, or added volatile flavors) - will have stabilized to the point where trained panelists can no longer detect a statistically relevant rate of change after about 28 days, when stored in a controlled, stable environment.  Physiochemically, the crystallization kinetics continue to evolve.  However, between 28 days and 35 days - there is no statistical difference detected.  At some point - very far out - there will again be a difference (related to hardness, as both the volume fraction of crystals is larger as well as the physical form of the crystals begins to change) - but we're talking years out.  If you've got an extreme or highly variable environment, everything above changes.  

For products that contain a lot of milk, depending on how it's processed, you can run into something called the glass transition (Tg) temperature, impacting lactose.  It essentially turns it from a crystal into an amorphous fluid.  This again changes how flavor is released (both due to how it dissolves, as well as how much moisture it's able to hold on to - this gets into specific physical chemistry that i won't go into here).

Also be aware that your packaging can impact flavor (either via diffusing aromas from the packaging into the chocolate itself, or by letting the aromatics of the chocolate escape if they don't have good barrier properties).

07/20/16 05:34:24PM
182 posts

Based on the above Sebastian, is it fair to say that chocolate should be "aged" in a tempered & moulded state?

I see a lot of people ageing their chocolate straight from the grinding/refining/conching machine in a large tub in an untempered state. But based on the above, when they melt it all to temper and mould it, wouldn't that re-liquefy the ccb and restart some form of ageing process as it solidifies again in its now tempered/moulded state?

updated by @gap: 07/21/16 01:47:05AM
07/21/16 01:14:57PM
52 posts

Wow, thank you for your answer.
I agree to all what you mentioned above.
But, you allege that chocolate continue to crystallized month after and not couple of days, as I recall it contradict books that I read. (I know that there will be always 5%-20% of liquid cacoa butter depand if it's grow very close to the equator or not)
Secondly, the taste not evolve also from chemical reactions? it's hard to believe that the changes occurs solely because of the cacao butter solidification.

07/22/16 04:54:57PM
754 posts

Gap - yes.  Aging it untempered does almost nothing (there is some volatilization that's occuring), but again, the main driver is crystallization and melt.  If stored untempered, it's still crystallizing to some point, but the first thing a user will do is temper it, which will destroy any crystallization that may have happened to occur by happenstance.

LLY - i can't speak to what books you are reading, but i can say that just because you've read something, doesn't mean it's true.  Even if what you're reading is what i'm saying 8-)  Although, to be clear, i'm pretty confident that what i'm saying is true.  As in really, very confident.  

Flavor is an incredibly complex beast.  Flavor is due 100% to chemistry, yes.  Flavor change, however, is also chemistry, just a different kind.  Physical chemistry plays a huge part of how your body perceives flavor.

07/25/16 01:09:08AM
182 posts

Thanks Sebastian - that's really interesting given what we see a lot of the "larger" small-batch bean to bar makers do.

07/25/16 06:50:29AM
754 posts

Many times i've seen a 'story' develop, that's a romanticized narrative created that sounds plausible to the passers-by, but isn't grounded in science, and either doesn't have anything to back it up, or is caused by something else entirely, but not recognized as such.  This narrative can pick up momentum such that others begin doing it as well (there was a trend here for a while, for example, where people thought wearing magnetic bracelets would cure everything.  It's complete and utter bollocks, of course, but they still sold millions of them.)  

If you're storing your liquor to age it, there's not a great deal of benefit to doing so other than you don't need to run your production equipment as often, and logistically it may be easier.

If you're storing your chocolate to age it, there can be a benefit to doing so if it's stored in it's final form of consumption.  If you're storing bulk chocolate with the intent of further processing it, there's not much benefit to doing so.

A very large chocolate user (not, not producer, they use chocolate to make candies that actual industrial chocolate mfrs produce for them - but they use 10's of millions of lbs of chocolate/year), used to mandate that the bulk chocolate produced for them be aged for 90 days before they would use it.  Why?  Because at the time the owner of the company (it was a private company) - his mother believed that doing so was necessary for the chocolate to taste 'right'.  Crazy.  He allowed his mother - who's not part of the business - to drive immense supply chain complexity that had absolutely no bearing on how they used the chocolate.  Craziness that added zero value (in fact it added carrying costs) to their business.


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