You may be surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day started with the Romans. There are two theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day. The first is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15 where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in hopes of upping their fertility. The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry (apparently single men make better soldiers). In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14.
Either way, Americans love to celebrate the holiday as a symbol of love and romance, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you might be wondering how to store some of the goodies that come with the holiday.
Here are a few guidelines on cookie and chocolate storage from StillTasty.com, a website for food storage guidelines using research-based information.
Store boxed chocolates at a moderate room temperature. Stored at these temperatures, most types of boxed chocolates will retain their quality for at least 6 to 9 months, even after they’ve been opened. (The exception to this is premium gourmet, handmade chocolates. They will usually remain at peak quality for only about 2-3 weeks at room temperature.)
- Ideal temperature for storing chocolates is generally between 60⁰ and 70⁰ Fahrenheit – much warmer than that, and the chocolates’ texture and appearance can begin to suffer.
- In hot, humid conditions – or for longer-term storage refrigerate or freeze chocolates.
- Refrigeration can extend the shelf life of your chocolates by at least 25%, while freezing can prolong it by 50% or more. Place the original box in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag, seal and refrigerate for up to one year, or freeze for up to 18 months for best quality. Thaw frozen chocolates in the refrigerator.
- If the climate in your home is routinely above 70⁰ Fahrenheit and humid – or if you can’t polish off your entire box of chocolates within a few months – your next best option is to refrigerate or freeze your boxed chocolates.
- Chocolate absorbs nearby odors like a sponge. So it’s important to keep your boxed chocolates well-covered, no matter where you’re storing them. For maximum taste and freshness, place opened boxes in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag and seal it tightly.
Bakery or homemade cookies can be stored at room temperature 2 – 3 weeks or 2 months in the refrigerator. Cookies retain their quality when stored in the freezer for 8 to 12 months.
The best way to store cookies is in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag with the air pressed out.
Baked cookies are best stored separately according to their type, crispy or chewy. For long- term cookie storage, freeze them. Thaw at room temperature in their wrappers.
Moist bars, such as cheesecake and lemon bars, can be refrigerated for 7 days. For best quality, store bars in the freezer for up to 2 to 3 months.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!