Flour is an extremely important ingredient, which is used in hundreds of food recipes and is known for its’ versatility as a product. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types of flour but they all have the same basic qualities and have a lot of similarities between them. Because of this fact, each kind of flour can be stored in the same way and they show the same physical kind of characteristics. If you go to the supermarket and you see a big sale on a couple of bags of flour, what should you do? All customers want to save some money and some time but would you be able to store the flour for the long-term without too much trouble? Can you be sure that flour has a long shelf life so you can use up the whole bag? The ultimate question remains; does flour go bad?
Does Flour Go Bad Or Expire?
Unfortunately, flour can go bad due to its’ ingredients and components. However, if you take the proper steps and precautions, the shelf life of flour can be extended for a long period of time. The combination of proper storage and recognizing the signs of bad flour will help you to save time and money. Instead of having your flour go sour prematurely, you’ll instead be able to bake that cake or make those cookies months after the initial purchase of the flour bag.
Flower doesn’t usually have any expiration date, it has “best before” date. If you store it properly, you can use flower beyond its “best before” date.
Storing The Flour Properly
In order to properly store your flour and extend its’ shelf life for as long as possible, it’s important to follow the necessary steps and precautions for the best results. Instead of keeping the flour inside the original bag or package, you should consider moving it to a container that can be tightly sealed with a top or cover. The less the flour is exposed to the outside elements such as oxygen, heat, and sunlight, the better off it will be and the longer its’ lifespan will become. You also want to make sure that all of the air has been taken out of the container before you seal it with the flour contents still inside.
The original package for the flour is also a good option for storage but this changes if it has been opened up leaving it exposed to outside elements. It’s very difficult to re-seal a flour package after it has been opened. Another good option is to choose a sealable glass jar with a lid or top for storing the flour. The product should also be stored at room temperature or a little bit cooler than room temperature. This means that flour would not do well if it is stored in the refrigerator or especially the freezer for long periods of time. The best places for flour storage would have to be cooler than average and darker places like a kitchen cabinet, pantry, or even a basement cellar. The flour should also remain dry at all times as exposure to water or other liquids would substantially change its’ physical components.
If you plan on storing your flour for a long time and don’t need to use it immediately, it is recommended to move the flour from its’ original packaging to a sealable container or jar. If you insist on storing the flour in the refrigerator or the freezer, it’s necessary to tightly seal it after removing any excess air or other outside elements. You’re also going to want to label and date the flour container with a permanent marker displaying the date of storage and how long its’ been in the fridge / freezer. You must also thaw out the flour and de-frost it before usage as well. You may have to mix the flour contents together again after a long period of storage at cooler temperatures.
Shelf Life of Flour
Since there are many kinds of flour out there on the market, it’s difficult to generalize to give a good sense of how long an individual bag will last. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that flour should be stored in a cooler and darker area for as long as it is being stored for. The cooler the product is, the longer its’ shelf life will be compared to warmer flour. It’s best to err on the side of caution and choose a cooler location to store your flour. The small difference it could make would end up being a few extra weeks where your flour will remain good and keep its’ taste and texture in tact. White flour will always last longer than whole grain flour, which is higher in oil content making it more susceptible to deterioration and degradation more quickly. White flour should last you up to six months of good storage before going bad while whole grain flour would last you only a few months total with good storage practices.
Here are some additional tips for storing flour. Check out this video on how to store your flour up to 5-8 years:
Signs of Bad Flour
The most important thing to keep in mind with checking for bad flour is to check its’ appearance out. You may have to sift through the contents to see if there are any insects that have been lodged in there. They may have been attracted to the scent of the flour, and ended up burrowing themselves into the contents. There could be anything from ants to larvae nestled in your flour so its’ important to always have the bag or container sealed tightly. You should also check to see if there are any changes in the texture to make the flour moldy, mushy, or clumpy. The next way to check the flour for overall quality is to smell it. It should have a normal, fresh odor to its contents but if it instead smells rancid and unappetizing then it would be best to throw out the flour because it’s most likely gone bad.
How to check for worms in the flour:
- Pour the flour in a plain glass.
- Press the flour together to get a flat and hard surface, just a little below the rim of the glass.
- Leave the glass with flour in a warm and bright spot for about 1-2 hours.
If you happen to have flour worms (tiny larvae, less than 1 mm), they will break the smooth surface of the flour, and get visible. Once you know that you have these worms, you should throw out your flour and any other flour product you may have in your pantry. After that, wash your pantry shelves thoroughly.
Flour is an ideal candidate for long-term storage due to flexibility of being able to put it in a sealable container. It also has uses and purposes for many different recipes so it should be considered an integral ingredient for different kinds of food recipes. Store the flour properly and you’ll be using the same product months into the future!