How Long Does Flour Last?
Flour, which is a pantry staple is made when grains or other foods are ground into powder. Although flour traditionally was made from wheat, there are now several different kinds available in the market including almond, coconut and various gluten-free varieties.
Most people store their flour in the pantry for long durations and sometimes even after its expiration date. Therefore, making you wonder how long one is supposed to store flour and still remain safe. This article will help you know if flour goes bad, preview a number of safe storage techniques and also the risks that come with consuming expired flour.
What is the Shelf Life of Flour?
There are several different factors which influence the length of time or shelf life of flour before it goes bad. Most types of flour can last from 3 to 8 months at room temperature, which is normally long past their date of expiration. However, the exact shelf life depends on the specific kind of flour, the ingredients used to make it and how it is stored.
Types of Flour
flour is usually categorized depending on the level of processing, which is the factor that affects the duration at which it can be stored. The flour’s source ingredient, which can either be arrowroot or wheat, plays a major impact in this.
For instance, white all-purpose four usually remains fresh for a longer duration that whole-wheat flour because of the methods used to process each.
White flour is refined highly, which means that grain is removed from the germ and bran, and as a result the starchy endosperm is left. On the other hand, whole wheat flour is made from three different parts of the grain; the germ, endosperm an grain.
The germ and bran contain a lot of oils, which is what causes whole-wheat flour products to be a lot vulnerable to rot. This normally occurs as a result of fats deteriorating after being exposed to moisture, light or air, which in turn causes an undesirable odor or taste.
Also, since other gluten-free substitutions such as coconut and almonds are rich in oil, they are also more susceptible to rancidity compared to wheat flour.
In addition, all-purpose flour that is gluten-free, which typically a combination of various of root-based or nut-based flour, tend to be more vulnerable to mold because of the high levels of moisture found in the product.
Flour Storage Methods
When it comes to flour, the shelf life is determined by the storage techniques. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found flour to be shelf stable. This means that you can safely store at room temperature for a given period of time.
However, if you want your flour to last for a longer time and maintain its freshness, store it an air-tight container and make sure that you’ve placed it in a dry and cool place. For instance, all-purpose flour can last from 6-8 months when stored on the shelf, but when it’s refrigerated it can last for at least 1 year and 2 year when frozen.
If you decide to store your flour in the fridge, ensure that it doesn’t come into contact with water or moisture so that it doesn’t get mold. You can achieve this by placing it in an air-tight container like a food storage bin or even a plastic bag.
Note that frozen or refrigerated flour should be left to get to room temperature before it is used. This way there will be no lumps in the flour.
How to Tell if Flour Has Gone Bad
Though most packaged flours normally have the expiration dates (which are also referred to as the best-by dates) visibly printed on the packaging, showing you a given length of time at which they’ll remain fresh. However, the labels aren’t really mandatory and do not actually signify the safety of the product. This means that the flour might still be safe to consume after the expiry date has passed.
The best method you can use to determine the freshness of your flour is by smelling it. Fresh flour usually has a neutral odor while bad flour either has musty, almost sour or stale smells. When flour isn’t fresh it looks discolored.
Also, when flour gets into contact with moisture or water, it will automatically form several larger clumps of mold. If this happens, make sure that you immediately get rid of the flour because it has become contaminated.
If you’d like to prevent food waste, look for some creative means to use old flour so that it doesn’t get past its expiration date. Apart from making baked products such as cakes and bread, flour can be used to create other non-consumable things like homemade glue and playdough.
Risk of Using Expired Flour
The molecular structure of flour changes when it become rancid which in turn can result to the production of harmful compounds. However, there haven’t been any studies of recent revealing any detrimental effects that come with consuming rancid flour. On the other hand, when you use expired flour to make edible good, they might have an unpleasant taste, and can even be harmful to your health when consumed in large amounts.