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In this day and age chocolate isn’t just for eating in cakes or as a sweet treat. Chefs have invented things like chili chocolate main courses and chocolate on steak, the list goes on.
You might even have a few forms of chocolate at home ready to use. Cocoa powder for hot chocolate, chocolate chips for cookies and that nice big bar of chocolate you are saving to open when no one is about.
Not only is it yummy, but it makes us feel good when we are down in the dumps. When we eat chocolate our brains release endorphins that cause us to feel happier. It’s a fact!
How long does chocolate stay good and edible though? Most of the time chocolate isn’t something that we check the expiry date of, and we probably assume that it doesn’t go off at all.
Well, let’s dive into the world of chocolate and discover more.
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A Piece From the Chocolatey Past
We must thank Mexico for introducing the world to chocolate. The Olmec tribe from southern Mexico is the first to have recorded chocolate being present.
Cacao seeds were so treasured that they were also used as currency by the Aztecs. They even believed cacao was gifted to their people by a God named Quetzalcoatl. There is also evidence of fermented drinks made of chocolate that date as far back as 450 BC.
So as we can see chocolate has a larger history than a lot of food around. Cacao is rather bitter and must be mixed with sugar to give it the taste we all know and love today. Europeans mixed cacao, honey and sugar together to make a sweet paste to be added with water, and the sweet delight was born.
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Some Fun Chocolate Facts
It’s always a good laugh learning a bit of random information, trivia pub quizzes need to be won by someone, after all, so let that person be you.
- July 7th, 1504 marks the first-day chocolate hit European soil making it National chocolate day.
- Chocolate is made from the seed of cacao fruit.
- White chocolate is made from cacao butter and not cacao liquor or solid, making it a fake in disguise.
- Spanish friars are responsible for spreading chocolate all over the world.
- Solid chocolate was only invented in 1847, prior to that all the chocolaty treats were drinks.
- Milk chocolate was invented shortly after the introduction of solid chocolate by the swiss in 1875.
- Cadbury, an English company made the first-ever chocolate bar.
- It is a French tradition to celebrate April fools day by making and eating fish-shaped chocolate.
- Cacao farms are maintained by hand. It takes a whopping 400 cacao beans to make a teeny tiny one-pound chocolate bar, can you believe it?
Chocolate Health Benefits
Cacao has many health benefits, therefore a dark chocolate bar will be better for you than you think. Milk and white chocolate carry much fewer benefits as they contain less cacao. They also have a much higher sugar content than dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has 7 grams of sugar in an average 1-ounce bar. Milk chocolate contains 10 grams of sugar making it worse for you, and finally white chocolate has a massive 17 grams of sugar in a little 28 gram (1 ounce) bar.
After reading that, you chocoholics should look into sticking to dark chocolate as much as possible, especially if you are used to eating chocolate every day. Making just that little dietary tweek, without even cutting chocolate out completely could result in you losing a few pounds over the course of a year or even in just a few short months.
- Dark chocolate might help you while you’re dieting. Eating a few pieces of dark chocolate when you are stuck with cravings on a diet will likely keep you on track and prevent binging.
- Dark chocolate can keep your skin hydrated. Cacao improves blood circulation and in turn, improves skin health and hydration.
- Dark chocolate can improve the health of your heart.
- If you suffer from mental blocks or need to boost your thinking speed then have a little bit of chocolate before an exam or a long business meeting.
- Fiber, magnesium, copper, and iron are found in high percentages in dark organic chocolate.
- When supported by a healthy and balanced diet, dark chocolate aids in lowering blood pressure.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that if you eat dark chocolate all of the above health problems will just go away, but hey, it’s nice to know that it’s not as bad for you as people make out.
What to Do When You Come Across a Suspicious Bar
Being surprised by an unexpected bar of the good stuff while cleaning your car is more than welcome. How do we know if the chocolate we find is still edible?
You have more of a chance of the chocolate being edible if it was completely sealed when you find it. If the chocolate is half mauled on and unprotected then not only will it have lots of germs on it by now, but it will also be rather dry. So I suggest giving that a miss.
Chocolate, no matter how it is stored, will go off at some point. The Expiry date on chocolate is a year or so after being manufactured and between us, you can most probably still eat the chocolate a good three months after the date shown.
Look out for any mold, or if the chocolate has some strange white spots. Those are signs that the chocolate bar is no longer good and should be thrown out.
When the chocolate bar is passed the date shown on the wrapper but isn’t showing signs of being ‘off’ break it in half and smell it. If the consistency looks a bit sandy and dry then that too is showing symptoms of being at the end of its sweet life and we just must let it go.
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