A classic ice cream topping, and certainly the favorite milk flavoring of kids everywhere, chocolate syrup has a solid place in refrigerators everywhere. Of course, it’s easy to forget about that bottle in the fridge (or that spare unopened one in your pantry) as months get colder and ice cream with chocolate syrup seems less appealing. How do you know it’s still good? Can chocolate syrup go bad and how can you tell if it has spoiled?
Can Chocolate Syrup Go Bad?
While unopened chocolate syrup can last for a very long time when stored properly, it will eventually degrade in quality, and then spoil. The shelf life of chocolate syrup will depend on the brand, production method and ingredients, but commercially produced and packaged chocolate syrup typically has a shelf life of around three years past the printed expiration date. Of course, this could be shorter (or longer!), depending on the storage conditions.
Once a bottle of chocolate syrup has been opened, it will typically stay good for about six months, when tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator.
Homemade chocolate syrup has a much shorter shelf life. Homemade syrup should be refrigerated within two hours of making, and stored in a tightly sealed container.
Image used under Creative Commons from jamieanne
How to Tell If Chocolate Syrup Has Gone Bad
Visual signs are a good indicator to see whether chocolate syrup is still good to consume. If there is any mold, or the syrup has separated, then it has gone bad and should be discarded. Syrup that has become hard, or that has thickened or darkened considerably has also gone bad, and should not be consumed.
A sour or otherwise unpleasant smell is another indicator that the chocolate syrup has spoiled, and should not be eaten.
To reduce contamination of homemade syrup, be sure to use a clean spoon when scooping syrup out of the container. If homemade syrup thickens quickly after chilling, it has likely not spoiled, and can simply be reheated before consuming.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Chocolate Syrup
If unopened bottles of chocolate syrup are stored in a cool, dark place, they shouldn’t need an extension to their already long shelf life. Of course, once syrup has been opened, the shelf life reduces to about six months. If that date rapidly approaches, and you realize that you’ve still got quite a bit of syrup you’d like to save, freezing is an option.
When store bought chocolate syrup is frozen, the moisture in the syrup will form ice crystals, and the texture could change, so you should reheat the syrup before using it again. To freeze, transfer the syrup into a freezer safe, airtight container and seal tightly. Chocolate syrup can be frozen for about six months before the quality begins to degrade. Thaw frozen syrup overnight in the refrigerator for best results, and then heat if desired and use as normal. Once syrup has been thawed out, it should not be refrozen, as this will drastically reduce the quality.
You can extend the shelf life of homemade syrup by freezing or canning it. Frozen homemade syrup will crystallize and undergo texture changes when thawed, but this can be corrected by thinning out the syrup with a bit of liquid while heating. Canned homemade syrup, when canned and stored properly, will have a shelf life of up to a year. Because chocolate syrup doesn’t need to be canned in a pressure canner, and can be processed in a water bath, this is an incredibly easy way to store extra syrup, while retaining its quality. Plus, you’ll still have extra space in your freezer!