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Flour is a pantry staple in most households. Whether you like baking, making bread, or whipping up the batter to fry things, you are going to have some type of flour in your kitchen. It could be all-purpose flour, whole wheat, whole grain flour, or even some gluten-free variety like almond flour.
This essential ingredient needs to be stored with some care so that you can always have some in hand, besides being practical and economical.
Does Flour Go Bad?
Yes, flour does go bad. Depending on how well it has been stored flour can last anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. Different kinds of flour have different shelf lives, depending on the amount of natural oil in them, the more oil, the shorter the shelf life. Flour even if not spoiled or past its expiry, does not cook, bake, or taste good when it is old. Old flour that is not fresh will not yield quality output.
How Long Does Flour Last?
In most kitchens, flour is the one thing that is constantly running out and getting replenished. Or sometimes, you buy flour in bulk so that it doesn’t run out and then you’re not sure if the flour in the pantry is still usable. So, how long does flour last?
- White flour, like all-purpose flour and baking flour or rising flour can be kept in the pantry, in an airtight container for no more than 3-4 months when opened. After this time, they won’t immediately spoil, but they will taste stale.
- Unopened white flour will be good in the pantry for close to 6 months.
- If you keep your flour in a storage space like a cellar or a pantry room that is cool, the flour can last for about 6 months.
- If you store white flour in cooler temperatures like the fridge, the flour will be fresh for 10-12 months.
- If you want your white flour to last a really long time, then storing it in the freezer is a good option. The flour can last from 1-2 years depending on how well you store it.
- Whole wheat and whole grain flours have a much shorter shelf life as they contain more natural oils, which affects their expiry date.
- Whole wheat or grain flour that has been opened will keep at room temperature for about a month.
- Whole wheat or grain flour that has not been opened will be good in the pantry for 3-6 months.
- It will last for about 3 months in cooler storage space, as long as it is away from direct heat and is kept in an airtight container.
- Wheat and grain flour can be stored in the fridge for about 6 months.
- And the whole wheat and grain flours will retain quality and stay fresh for about a year in the freezer.
- Gluten-free flour like almond flour has a much shorter shelf life.
- An opened bag of almond flour will be good in the pantry for about 1-2 months.
- If you store it in the fridge, an opened bag will last for 2-6 months.
- And it will be good in the freezer for 6-12 months.
- An unopened bag of almond flour though slows the clock down. It will be good in the pantry for about 2-4 months.
- It will remain fresh when stored in the fridge for 6-12 months and will last even longer in the freezer.
- An unopened bag of almond flour can be stored in the freezer for 1-2 years.
|Type of Flour||At room temperature||Cooler storage space/cellar||Fridge||Freezer|
|White flour opened||3-4 months||6 months||10-12 months||1-2 years|
|White flour unopened||6 months||6-8 months||1 year||1-2 years|
|Whole wheat/grain flour opened||1 month||3 months||6 months||1 year|
|Whole wheat/grain flour unopened||3-6 months||6-8 months||12 months||1-2 years|
|Almond flour opened||1-2 months||2-4 months||2-6 months||6-12 months|
|Almond flour unopened||2-4||4-6 months||6-12 months||1-2 years|
The above table is just an estimate. The actual shelf life depends on the quality of the product and how well it has been stored. Most store-bought flours will come with a best-by or sell-by date, this is the date when the product is expected to reach its peak. After this date, the flour will still be usable but might have decreased in quality.
How Best To Store Flour?
Whatever type of flour you have and are using there are a few basic rules of storage.
- Flour usually comes in paper bags, while this is fine, it is easy to get damaged in which case, it is easier to spoil. One option is to double bag your flour. Place your unopened bag of flour either in a Ziplock or place it like that in a deep, airtight container. Once you have opened the bag of flour, it is best to transfer it into an airtight container.
- One of the most essential yet simple rules of storing flour is to keep it in an airtight container. This might be a no-brainer, but if the container is not airtight, then not only will it allow external contaminants to enter and spoil the flour, but it increases the chances of moisture entering the container of flour, thus risking spoilage.
- Keep the lid tightly closed. Keeping it open even for a little bit can give an opportunity for bugs, insects and other pests to make a home in the flour so always keep the lid tightly closed.
- Store the flour in a cool, dark place. The flour will not only last longer but will also retain better and fresher flavor when stored away from direct heat and sunlight. The colder the storage temperate the longer your flour is going to last.
- Flour absorbs odors very easily, so it is essential to always keep the flour in an airtight container with the lid tightly closed, especially in the freezer.
- When storing the flour in the fridge or freezer, store it in the coldest spot, this will keep it fresh longer.
- When you want to use the flour stored in the freezer, just let it sit out for a little while till it reaches room temperature.
How To Tell If Your Flour Has Spoiled?
- The smell is the first indicator of spoilage. If your flour smells dank or off, then it is time to buy a fresh batch.
- Discoloration is another sign of spoilage. Flour generally has a light white or cream color to it, with whole wheat flour being a darker cream and almond flour a light cream yellow. But if your flour is brown or very yellow, then it has gone bad.
- If your flour has insects, worms, or other pests and bugs, then definitely discard it.
- If your flour is clumpy, then moisture has gotten in, which indicates spoilage.
Flour is one the most essential ingredients in a kitchen or pantry. Even for those who aren’t bakers, flour is a part of their culinary arsenal in some form. A few simple, effective steps will allow your flour to remain fresh for a long, long time.