While chocolate CAN go stale, it does NOT spoil.
The best place to store chocolate is the freezer...in a double freezer bag.
A good way to freshen chocolate for dipping or coatings is to add a small bit of shortening and a few "fresh" chocolate chips to the bowl or double boiler when you melt it. Otherwise, I'd just go ahead and use it as is.
One of the best ways to find out if your product is still good--does it retain the same color as fresh? Does it taste the same? Does it coat your mouth with a waxy feeling?
As chocolate ages, it gets lighter in color. Some looses flavor as well. I keep mine in the cupboard in Tupperware, open bags fresh from the store and put into sealed container. I average about 2 years before cleaning out what has not been used. Put a piece of masking tape on product container so you have an idea of the age!
I do not think that chocolate spoils, although the quality may not be as good as fresher chocolate. It isn't harmful, if that is what you are worried about. Taste it, and if it is fine, than you should be able to use it.
If you'll keep it in your freezer, it will keep forever. I've used some I bought 2 yrs ago at an after Christmas sale and it's still good.
I had some in the freezer from last Christmas...used it this year...was perfect. So, I would say...if the date isn't too far past...freeze and use later.
Nestle has a use best date on the package, Hershey's has a best used by date code on the package. There is single digit number on it and a letter after it, the number is the year and the letter is the month (jan=A, feb.=B, etc.)
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