Does Flour Go Bad? How Long Does Flour Last?
Flour being a kitchen staple, we often find ourselves with at least a half packet of unfinished flour that has been sitting in the cabinet for sometime. Does flour get spoiled? Can “expired” flour be used? These are some of the questions that come to our minds after coming across that unfinished bag of flour.
Fortunately, flour can last for a longer time than the best-by date provided on the package, especially when it is stored in the right way. If you want to know more about the shelf life, storage as well as whether or not flour goes bad, read on.
How to Store Flour
Storing flour is not as hard a task as one may think. An unsealed package of flour should be stored in a cool and dry place. A kitchen cabinet or the pantry are the most suitable storage areas. Flour, just like other dry products such as baking powder should be kept away from moisture and water.
This means that once a package is opened, its probably best for you to transfer the remaining flour to an airtight container similar to those that are used in storing cereals.
Of course, the flour can be left in its original packaging but it won’t be well protected form moisture and water. So, if you decided to do so, make sure that you’re storing it in a moisture-free area.
If you don’t bake a lot and use a particular kind of flour (for instance, whole wheat grain flour) once every few months or weeks, the best way to store the remaining flour is in the fridge and for longer storage the freezer.
The low temperature will help it to maintain it original quality for a longer time. This is often the case when it comes to gluten-free alternatives such as almond flour and coconut flour. Due to that, if you intend to utilize a particular pack of flour for couple of months after unsealing it, chilling it is the best means of storage.
Another important factor when you’re looking to store your remaining flour in the freezer or fridge is that it has to be well protected from both cold and moisture. As previously mentioned, the flour can be put in an airtight container. Alternatively, the flour can be left in the original package and then placed in a freezer bag before storage. This storage method should work perfectly too.
How Long Does Flour Last?
There are several different kinds of flour available apart from wheat flour, such as potato flour, almond flour and corn flour. Fortunately, you don’t have to memorize the shelf life of every type since they are all pretty similar. The main noticeable difference can be seen between whole grain flour and “normal” flours. Since whole grain flours have more oil compared to white flours, they tend to lose their quality faster.
Most packaged flour come inclusive of a best-by date. The date is just a rough estimate of the duration of time at which the flour is expected to maintain the quality. Of course, the flour won’t get spoiled a week or month after the stated date. You’ll also won’t become ill after consuming flour and it will still taste okay past the best-by date put on the package.
How long can flour last past its best-by date? This isn’t an easy thing to know because it all depends on several factors, such as how it was manufactured and so on. The best you’ll be able to get are rough estimates.
When it comes to white flour, it can retain its good quality for at least one year when stored at room temperature and about 2 years when chilled in the freezer or fridge.
On the other hand, whole grain flour (as mentioned before), is more volatile and can keep its original quality for only around 3 months at room temperature and 6 months when chilled in the fridge and at least one year when frozen.
Of course, the periods given are just estimates and are meant to ensure best quality only. The flour might still be safe for consumption for several more years.
|White flour||Best by + 1 year||Best by + 2 years||Best by + 2 years|
|Whole-grain flour||Best by + 3 months||Best by + 6 months||Best by + 1 year|
Note that the periods stated above are just rough estimates that ensure best quality.
How To Tell If Flour Is Bad
Unless insects or water get into the bag or container, your flour won’t go bad in a manner that will make it unsafe for consumption. When water comes in contact with the powder, big clump will be formed or some kind of organic growth will occur on the surface. If this happens to your flour, get rid of it.
Flours are known to attract flour insects. If you notice that there’s anything moving in your flour, trash the product. And possibly disinfect and clean your pantry and kitchen cabinets because there may be other insects there.
If your flour doesn’t have insects in it and appears to be okay, get a sniff of it. if you notice that it contains a rancid smell, (this is likely to occur in whole wheat flours), then it’s stayed past its prime and you need to discard it. Given that your flour still smells and appears to be okay, it certainly is safe for use.
In case you bake using an old package of flour and the result doesn’t come out as expected, then it’s likely that your flour is no longer good. As stated previously, flour loses its original quality with time, and for quality purposes you should get rid of it.