Why does a white coating form on chocolate when it is in the refrigerator?

What a hobby we have with changing things around … And we do not mean when we subject our home to a Feng Shui “session” in which we find new ways of arranging our house, but when we go to the supermarket, We take products from their shelves and in our home we do not place them in the pantry, but in the refrigerator.

For example, if we buy eggs at room temperature, why do they end up on one of the shelves of our fridge? As Luis Riera, general director of the SAIA food safety consultancy, explains, if an egg is one lower temperature of 25ºC, It can be stored without problem at room temperature, so nothing would happen if we are in the habit of placing them there. On the other hand, the same does not happen with chocolate bars …

Chocolate in the fridge, yes or no?

We usually see a long corridor with shelves full of chocolate, and when we get home and place the purchase, we immediately put that chocolate in the fridge… A decision, apparently, not very wise, according to food technologists.

«It would not be good to put these tablets in the refrigerator since one of the characteristics of chocolate, which causes us pleasure, is that melts easily in our mouth. This happens if the chocolate has been well made, well preserved and we taste it at the right temperature. In addition, when it melts it releases all the aromas and we can appreciate the flavor at its best ”, says Luis Riera. So this satisfaction we would not have if we consume this type of chocolate at a low temperature.

Apparently, chocolate is made up of cocoa and sugar solids suspended in cocoa butter: solids provide the flavor and cocoa butter the structure. Luis Riera says that the cocoa butter that chocolate contains, if well crystallized, has a melting point very similar to our body temperature and melts easily. On the contrary, the crystallization is altered and the melting point also: «If we taste cold chocolate, out of the refrigerator, it will not melt so easily in our mouth since the aromas will not show up so easily and we will lose nuances of flavor and of pleasure, “he says.

What is “fat bloom”

You may have noticed that when chocolate is fresh out of the refrigerator, it does not appear in its dark brown tone, but rather that a whitish layer covers that characteristic color of chocolate. For what is this? This “veil” known as fat blooming or “fat bloom” occurs because the composition of the chocolate fat means that its structure is forming crystals in the solid state, and these crystals come in six forms that melt in different ways.

«From a temperature of 36ºC, all the crystals are melted and when we lower the temperature below 36ºC, the fat recrystallizes, but it does not do it that way, but in versions that change the structure and, therefore, they do not reflect light in the same way and they do not have the same brightness, they give a gritty taste, coarse texture … “, explains Beatriz Robles, specialist in food safety. But this does not mean that chocolate has any problem from a food safety point of view, but rather that from a sensory point of view it will be a “much worse quality chocolate.”

Luis Riera points out that the changes in preservation also have a lot to do with the formulation of the white layer: «If we buy a well-prepared and well-preserved chocolate, its appearance will be smooth, uniform and shiny. If the same chocolate has been poorly preserved, its appearance will be whiter and its structure will have undergone crystallization changes.

If the storage location is a place where temperature undergoes considerable changes repeatedly, will be formed … «For example, an establishment that when it is open to the public turns on the air conditioning and turns it off when it is closed. This causes that when the ambient temperature is high, part of the cocoa butter contained in the chocolate melts and rises to the surface. And when the temperature drops, the cocoa butter crystallizes again, but in an uncontrolled and incorrect way, with a higher melting point, ”explains the expert. If the temperature change is cyclical, which is repeated regularly from time to time, the chocolate It will end up having a whiter color and will not melt so easily in our mouth.

«Sugar bloom»

The food safety expert Beatriz Robles expresses that the problem we have with the refrigerator is the change from cold to heat, that is, when we take it out at room temperature, there is condensation of water on the surface of the chocolate and this causes it to can dissolve the sugars and a crystallization that also forms a whitish layer called «sugar bloom»:« The moisture accumulated on the surface of the chocolate, due to condensation due to changes in temperature, will cause «sugar bloom», the microscopic recrystallization of sugar, forming a very thin whitish layer ». The nutritionist also recommends that, if the chocolate cannot be kept in a place at room temperature, wrap up well or “put inside a container to avoid these changes and condensations.”

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