Last Updated on July 31, 2022 by Zara R.
How long does cotton candy last? Today, we will not only answer this question but look at the best ways to extend its shelf life considerably!
By understanding how cotton candy works and its structure, you will better understand how you should properly store it. And, it will also be a lot easier to navigate how to prevent it from going bad. So, let’s jump right in.
The Importance Of Understanding What Affects Cotton Candy
You likely know what cotton candy is. Heck, most people have even had it at carnivals, circuses, or local town fairs. But, do you actually know what it is made from?
Sure, everybody knows cotton candy is just sugar. But what creates this fluffy soft texture?
By understanding what cotton candy is and how its texture is formed, you will better understand what could potentially ruin it and what makes it go bad. Ultimately, this guide will help you learn how long does cotton candy last and how to extend its shelf life.
What exactly is cotton candy?
Okay so now that we have all the gloomy doomy things out of the way, let’s have a look at exactly what cotton candy is made of and how it’s made.
Cotton candy, also known as fairy floss or candy floss, is basically a form of spun sugar. But, unlike with using the hand-made technique, these strands are extremely thin. This is what gives cotton candy clusters that cloud-like texture and virtually airy appearance.
So, how do you get the strands to be as fine as they need to? The only real way to create proper cotton candy is by using a cotton candy maker. This machine melts the sugar to become a very runny thin liquid syrup.
Then, using centrifugal force, it spins the syrup through tiny holes. This causes it to cool almost instantly and solidify into thin strands.
These strands are shaped around a stick to form a beautiful ball of flossed candy.
What affects spun sugar?
Now, as you probably also know, cotton candy doesn’t last forever. But what exactly causes it to melt?
Moisture. Yes, folks, it is as simple as that! All sugar works, and naturally including finely spun sugar, is extremely susceptible to moisture in the air. This is why cotton candy melts so quickly at fairs. The heat from all the people and rides makes the air quite humid and damp. Ultimately, this causes the sugar to melt and your candy to almost completely disappear.
But of course, moisture isn’t only in the air! If you store a packet of cotton candy close to a heat source or in direct sunlight, condensation could form inside the package. This condensation, aka water droplets, will melt the cotton candy instantly, leaving you only with a sticky gooey clump of sugar.
And then, just if you don’t already get it if your cotton candy falls into or touches liquid in any other way (rain drops or placed into a damp bowl) it will melt away.
Again, any form of moisture causes cotton candy to melt.
How Long Does Cotton Candy Last?
How long does cotton candy last? Well, how long is a piece of string? There are too many possible variables and factors that directly affect the shelf life of cotton candy.
Considering cotton candy is basically just sugar, its shelf life is almost never-ending. But, natural elements will cause it to melt long before the cotton candy actually ruins or spoils.
So, cotton candy can last far longer than you will need it to. But, only if it is stored in the proper ways.
How To Properly Store Cotton Candy
Below we have listed 3 methods you can use that will help you extend the shelf life of your cotton candy. Now, the answer to how long does cotton candy last can be inevitable!
Method 1: Plastic bag
If you can close it, you can use it. Any type of resealable airtight bag will work just fine as a storage container for cotton candy. It will be able to keep the moisture out while sealing in the flavor and freshness of this treat.
However, the biggest downside to this type of container is that they easily cause condensation. So, when storing cotton candy in a plastic bag, always keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Do not store it in the fridge, close to any heat sources, or close to air vents.
Method 2: Airtight container
Many cotton candy products today are sold in some type of solid airtight container. These contain naturally keep the moisture out, but they also help protect the delicate sugar strands from being crushed or damaged.
This is one of the best techniques to use and has many benefits. And, it isn’t as likely to get condensation inside. But, you still need to store it in a cool dry place.
Method 3: Mylar bag
This technique is excessive, but it will keep your cotton candy dry for years! These bags can protect the floss from sunlight, moisture, and oxygen in general.
But, they do cost more than plastic bags and containers, and again, they feel a little excessive.
We only recommend using Mylar bags if you live in a very humid area.
How To Tell When Cotton Candy Has Gone Bad
As we have mentioned, it is far more likely that your cotton candy will become melted before it goes bad or off.
When cotton candy starts melting, you can often see droplets forming on the surface of the spun sugar. this is quickly followed by literal melting pieces of sugar. Eventually, all that you are left with is a clump of hard sugar.
If your cotton candy actually manages to survive, it can still eventually go bad. Mold growth is probably the only sign of this candy going off. Mold can easily grow in the right environment. The sugar provides ample food, so all they need is oxygen, warmth, and moisture.
But again, the cotton candy will likely melt away before most molds can grow.
How can you tell if cotton candy is terrible?
Cotton candy is bad quality if it is chunky and has a bunch of sugar clumps in it. Furthermore, it has gone bad when the color bleeds and the sugar strands start melting. Then, if you ever see mold growing on cotton candy, you know it has gone really bad.
How do you increase the shelf life of cotton candy?
The best way to increase the shelf life of cotton candy is by keeping it away from heat and moisture. You can do this by storing it in an airtight bag or container. And, you should also keep it away from heat sources, direct sunlight, and humidity.
How long does cotton candy last on a cake?
Cotton candy won't last long on a cake. It can range from 10 minutes to 2 hours. It all depends on external factors. How humid or moist is the air? Does the cotton candy touch the moist frosting or cake surface? These are the two most common causes of the cotton candy melting on top of a cake.
Can I eat expired cotton candy?
Cotton candy doesn't ever really expire. Even if the date on the package has gone by, always check for mold. Other than that, cotton candy should still be safe to eat. But, it may not be flavorful or have a soft fluffy texture anymore.