The best way to store chocolate

The best way to store chocolate

Dating back centuries, in Mayan and Aztec cultures, ceremonial cacao (the primary ingredient in our modern-day chocolate) was a sign of love and fertility, gifted to loved ones as a showing of affection.  

Today, we identify cacao as a heart-healthy food; dark chocolate (higher percentages of cacao than milk or white chocolate) is high in flavonoids. Also found in fruits and vegetables, flavonoids, particularly the subtype of flavonols, help lower the risk of heart disease.  

So chocolate is a great gift to express your affection toward loved ones, but (dark chocolate especially) is also great to incorporate into your diet when opting for a healthier option. The next question is: How do you store chocolate to keep it longer? 

Can chocolate go bad?

Yes, chocolate can go bad, although it has a long shelf life compared to many other foods. Chocolate can develop a white powdery coating on its surface, the crystallization of sugar on the surface known as sugar bloom. It can also become rancid, having an unpleasant, sour smell. 

If chocolate is exposed to moisture, it can develop mold. Mold growth is a clear sign that the chocolate is no longer safe to eat. 

Chocolate storage tips

While dark chocolate is more robust and can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, milk and white chocolate are more sensitive. The best way to store chocolate is in a cool, dry place with a consistent temperature between 60°F and 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Away from direct light (chocolate melts in the heat, remember!) is another smart choice. Cupboards, drawers or an opaque container make an excellent option.  

Chocolate is porous and can easily absorb odours and moisture from its surroundings. Even a small amount of humidity can lead to sugar bloom or fat bloom (separation of cocoa butter). If the chocolate is opened or not wrapped tightly in its original packaging, place it in a sealed container. 

If you’ve got an abundance of chocolate and won’t consume it all within a reasonable time frame, freezing can extend its shelf life. Just ensure it’s tightly wrapped to prevent freezer burn and odours from seeping in. 

Recipes to try

If you find yourself with surplus chocolate, get creative and make your own chocolate treats. Melt down chocolate to create homemade truffles, chocolate-covered fruits, or drizzle it over popcorn. This not only transforms excess chocolate into delightful creations but also ensures you savour every last bit. 

Here are some more chocolate-based cookie recipes for the month of love: 

The classic chocolate chip cookies never go out of style. For some kick, try this black bean chocolate chili cherry cookies  

Have a quick but special breakfast by making pain au chocolate. For your next gathering, make a fondue

What’s a food waste audit, and how do we start one?

What’s a food waste audit, and how do we start one?

A food waste audit is a dive into the amount of food in your household that is wasted over a period of time. Mapping out a review of the lifecycle of discarded food in your home could be an eye-opening experience. It gives insights into how you can make shifts in eating and shopping habits that will benefit you personally and also the environment.  

Second Harvest’s guide to a food waste audit includes four steps: 


The first step is to determine your goals: What is the purpose of doing the audit? Are you aiming to minimize grocery expenses, improve sustainability practices, or both? 

Pick a timeframe: Measuring your food waste for four to six weeks (at least one to three days per week) is recommended. Don’t forget to check your cupboards and non-perishable items if you want to do a complete kitchen audit.  

Then gather necessary tools such as bins and protective gear and start creating a tracking system. We have a tracker sheet that you can use straight away or adapt it to what suits you best, whether on paper, a whiteboard, or digital. 


Be disciplined in separating and sorting food waste into your categorized bins (food scraps, prep waste, plate waste etc.). Then measure the waste and record it in your tracker. Go the extra mile by including detailed notes, such as the specific food items discarded, their approximate cost, and whether the waste occurred outside the home. 


Using the information in your tracker, analyze the data you’ve collected. What types of waste did you generate most? How much food was wasted and why? Identifying patterns and trends is crucial to minimize more waste in the future. 


Together with everyone in your household, discuss the underlying causes of the identified waste and think of ways to curb it. If your herbs wilt too quickly before you find a use for them, learn how to store them the right way. Spending a few hours washing and prepping the ingredients before storing them can expand their freshness window. If you’re tired of eating leftovers, try freezing the extra portions so you won’t have to rush to enjoy them.  

Depending on your family unit, you must set clear guidelines for yourself and your loved ones. Consider every member’s lifestyle needs and habits. Don’t forget to remain encouraging in the process to promote effective habit changes for everyone. 

To learn more about tracking food waste at home, join one of our upcoming webinars.  

How France is fighting food waste

How France is fighting food waste

Editor’s Note: Food waste isn’t just a Canadian problem – it’s a global issue with devastating impacts on climate change and hunger. All over the world, countries struggle to ensure good food ends up on plates instead of landfills, and many have developed unique strategies to face this crisis head-on.  

In this series of articles, The Harvest Journal will explore food waste policies around the world and highlight what different countries are doing to prevent and reduce waste, build more sustainable and resilient food systems, protect our planet and finally put an end to food waste. We previously covered Japan, Finland and Korea 

France is a leader of change in Europe’s combative charge against food waste.    

In 2016, the country passed Loi Garot (Garot Law), named after former Member of Parliament Guillaume Garot, who championed the cause. This is a milestone in food waste regulation, which established an anti-waste hierarchy with prevention as the top priority and held businesses accountable for reducing food waste.  

Food waste policy highlights

The main measure of this legislation is an obligation for supermarkets or grocery retailers with a surface area of more than 400m2 to donate their surplus food to charity organizations instead of destroying it. (Previously, grocers would bleach any expired or surplus food to prevent people from dumpster diving in their bins at the end of the day.) This marked a significant shift toward a more systematic approach to food waste reduction. 

Over the following years, the French government extended its focus to the hospitality sector, including restaurants, hotels and catering service operators. Restaurants, for instance, are encouraged to offer bags for patrons to take home uneaten portions. As of January 1, 2020, supermarkets are required to implement a donation quality management plan to ensure food quality, involving staff training and awareness. Non-compliance may result in fines of up to €75,000.   

Also in 2020, a comprehensive Anti-Waste Law took effect, aiming to transform the entire production, distribution, and consumption system from a linear to a circular economic model. Ambitious targets include a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 compared to 2015. 

Results and challenges

Since the implementation of these policies, France has made significant strides, reducing food waste by 10% between 2016 and 2020, according to Eurostat data.  

Nevertheless, they are not without their critiques. The scope of the law does not fully address the root causes of this issue in France – retailers and restaurants are responsible for about 20% of food waste, while households are the first contributor at 46%. Challenges such as coordinating partnerships between retailers and charities, transportation issues, and the need for proper storage have led to inefficiencies in execution. 

Guiding consumer choices

Changing consumer behaviour is particularly challenging. To make an impact at a household level, awareness and education campaigns are run nationally. France is also enhancing expiration date labels to better guide consumers. The country employs two food labels: DLC (Date Limite de Consommation) for a majority of perishable products and DDM (Date de Durabilité Minimale) for dry, sterilized, and dehydrated products. To convey that these products remain safe beyond the DDM, producers can include wording like “For optimal tasting” or “This product can be consumed after this date” for precision.  

Eco-Friendly Holiday Shopping Tips

Eco-Friendly Holiday Shopping Tips

As we prepare to exchange gifts and spread joy in the holiday season, it’s essential to keep the planet in mind. Embracing eco-friendly gifting practices during your holiday shopping can make a significant difference in reducing waste.

We’ve rounded up some eco-friendly holiday shopping and gift-giving tips. Head over to our Holiday Gift Guide for more ideas! 

DIY and upcycled gifts 

Getting creative with your gifts not only adds a personal touch but also minimizes the demand for new products. Consider upcycling materials or repurposing items to give them a new lease on life. Take stock of your possessions, from an extensive wardrobe to a collection of books, and explore how these items can be regifted or repurposed.  

Mindful gift wrapping 

Traditional wrapping paper contributes to a significant amount of waste during the holiday season. Instead, opt for reusable gift wrap, such as fabrics, scarves, artwork from kids or even magazines and newspaper. You can also go an extra mile and learn furoshiki, a centuries-old Japanese practice of wrapping gift using fabric with different designs and print patterns.  

Brown bags from local businesses you support are also a great starting point if they are kept intact from a previous purchase, and bows made out of jute or twine are great biodegradable options. 

Shop smart

Make eco-friendly choices by selecting gifts that are both thoughtful and practical. Some gifts can even double as their own wrapping. For instance, if you’re focusing on a housewares theme, bundle gifts in a reusable cotton tea towel, serving as both wrapping and an additional present.  

Thoughtful presents for kids 

Opt for thoughtful gifts that go beyond quantity, emphasizing quality and longevity. To encourage conscious consumerism, you can teach young children about giving back to their community, whether through charity donations or wildlife adoption in their name. Foster creativity by involving kids in making their own wrapping paper or exchanging DIY gifts, reinforcing the notion that it’s the thought that truly counts.  

Gift an experience

At the end of the day, memories can sustain us well beyond an item. Quality time spent together with our loved ones can be both enjoyable and environmentally friendly. Try activities such as hiking, planting a garden together in the spring, preparing a nice meal, having an at-home spa day or going to the movies. These simple moments can turn into cherished memories, making the holiday season more meaningful. 

Giving leftovers a makeover

Giving leftovers a makeover

‘Tis the season to get creative with leftovers. 

The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration. However, as the festive gatherings wind down, many of us find ourselves facing a common dilemma: an abundance of leftovers. Rather than weeks after weeks of uninspired reheats, why not embark on a culinary adventure by giving those leftovers a makeover? Getting the most out of the food we have is an important way to reduce the amount of edible food going to landfills and express our gratitude over the holiday season and beyond.  

Here are a few ways to make leftovers more exciting.  

Turkey (and other poultry, fish, and meat)

A cornerstone of holiday meals, turkey has many leftover options to carry you and your loved ones well beyond the holidays. Some of the best ways to extend the value of the turkey are:  

  • Make a rich and flavorful stock by using the carcass. This not only adds depth to your cooking but also honors the animal as a whole. 
  • Shred leftover meat and add them to your soups and stews. Prepare these fresh and freeze them for a taste of holiday warmth during the winter months.
  • Sandwiches beyond the basics! While sandwiches are a classic choice, explore new recipes to keep the week following the big holiday meal exciting. Experiment with different condiments, bread, vegetables and add-ons for a gourmet experience.  
  • If you have a green thumb, consider making bone meal from the turkey bones to enrich your garden soil come spring. 

Fruits and vegetables  

Just like with meats, freezing is a great option for leftover vegetables. A better way to keep things fresh is to take the produce, make something new, and then freeze it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:  

  • Combine assorted vegetable side dishes into a savory pie, pancake or omelette, creating a delightful dinner that utilizes every bit of your holiday table’s cornucopia. You can also stir-fry them: heat up a pan, throw in your leftover veggies, add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, and you’ve got a stir-fry ready in minutes. Serve it over rice or noodles for a complete meal. 
  • Nutrition-packed savoury waffles: Incorporate fruits or vegetables into your waffle batter for a versatile dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. 
  • Transform mashed potatoes into crispy potato pancakes: Mix in some grated cheese, chopped scallions, and a sprinkle of flour, then pan-fry until golden brown. 
  • Kitchen Sink Soup Adventure: Create a “Kitchen Sink Soup” by assembling whatever you have in the fridge, adding protein or beans, broth or water. This fun and easy approach may lead to surprising new recipes that give those wilted herbs another life.  

Looking for more inspiration to make the best out of your pantry? We have plenty of resources for you: 

Art of the Pantry: Finding New Inspiration in Your Cupboards 

10 Clever & Easy Kitchen Hacks to Reduce Your Home’s Food Waste