Dry foods generally have a long shelf life and flour is not an exception. Different kinds of flour abound, but for this article, the focus will be on All-purpose flour, since it’s more commonly used in American homes.
Yes, flour can go bad, albeit that takes a long time to happen; about 6-8 months at room temperature and 1-2 years when refrigerated or frozen. This refers to multi-purpose flour. For every 6 months that All-purpose flour lasts, other kinds like whole wheat flour, last 2-3 months less because they either have a higher fat content or contain nutrients that spoil easily.
In the course of this article, we will learn more about the lifespan of flour and where best to preserve it.
Does Flour go Bad? How Long Does it Last?
Knowing how long flour lasts in different spaces helps you preserve it better, so let’s go through how well flour can keep fresh outside (at room temperature), in the fridge, and the freezer.
How Long Does Flour Last Outside?
Most people prefer to store flour out on a shelf or in a cabinet. It’s the easiest, isn’t it? Just yank it open, use the potion you need, wrap the rest in a Ziploc and toss it in the pantry. If you aren’t feeling too lazy, you might pour the rest in an airtight container. But how safe is this method of preservation? Very, actually. As long as your Ziploc or container is sealed enough not to allow weevils or water in, the flour will do well outside the refrigerator for 6-8 months. You would notice that most times, the package reads “store in a cool dry place.” Meaning, don’t expose it to water (except when mixing your dough of course) and keep it at room temperature except when refrigerating.
How Long Does Flour Last in the Fridge?
Flour stored in the fridge can last up to a year, sometimes 2. According to Wheat Foods Council, all-purpose and bread flour will stay healthy for up to 2 years in your refrigerator at 47°F. Although the risky part of storing it in the fridge is that water can easily get in and once this happens, the flour starts to grow mold. So as always, make sure it’s well packaged before throwing it in. Street Mart Kitchen says that using heavy-duty freezer bags helps to prevent water, odor, and flavor from other foods, from getting in.
How Long Does Flour Last in the Freezer?
Believe it or not, the freezer might be the safest place to keep your flour, as it can last up to 2 years here as well. This is because colder temperature slows down the spoilage of food. Moisture and weevils can hardly get in and once you bring it out and leave it to thaw, your flour will be as fresh as one off the shelf. Like storing it in the fridge, use a heavy-duty freezer bag or a properly sealed container.
For more knowledge on this section, you can visit the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They have an online aid that contains information on the shelf life of various foods.
How to tell if Flour Has Gone Bad/How to Know if it is Fresh
It’s hard to tell if flour has gone bad, isn’t it? Until you are baking and then realize it isn’t rising, or its end product tastes funny. Well, let’s help you with some information on this.
Bugs: Maybe you forget to tie that bag of flour properly or it got punctured somewhere and tiny insects got into it. While it is possible to save if the flour of the infestation is light but it may best to just toss it out.
Bad Flour Smells Funny: Sometimes the bugs in flour give it an odor. So even if you don’t see them (they are so tiny that sometimes it’s hard to spot), you need to take caution if you notice a funny smell.
Flour and Water can be Enemies: Once water or moisture gets into your flour and it took a while before you noticed, it’s probably already moldy and that’s bad. Even if it’s not musty yet, as long as the water or moisture stayed in for a while, it’s not advisable to use. If you noticed the water the minute it got in, you can quickly separate the affected area from the dry part.
If it Stays too Long: Ok, I know we established that flour preserves well. But that doesn’t mean you should use one that has been sitting in your house for 5 years. No matter how well stored it was, that’s an unreasonable time to expect it to stay fresh, especially where you have brought it out of the freezer several times, thawed it then returned it.
There you have it; a few tips to help you separate the chaff from the wheat!
How to Store Flour
Storing flour is not so difficult. Here are some quick ideas:
The Freezer is your Best Friend: When it comes to flour matters, it is actually. Toss it there with a good package, and be unbothered for 2 years.
Airtight Containers: These are more recommendable than Ziploc, as they have a lower tendency of allowing water in. They work for both pantries, cabinets, etc., and Cool storage systems.
Labels: According to Spoon University, if you are repackaging it, it is a good idea to label your flour with its Best by date so if you’re confused about how long it’s been, you can easily let the date guide you.
Now that you have an insight on how to do it better, let’s get moving!
Can you Freeze Flour?
Yes, flour can be frozen. The best way to do this;
Get an Airtight Pack: There are several jars in stores that can be used to safely pack your food. Get one, or a heavy-duty freezer bag to prevent your flour from absorbing moisture.
Flour freezing doesn’t have many specialties. Pack it well, and you are good to go!
How to Thaw Flour?
You have successfully frozen your flour and you are wondering how to thaw it. Now, don’t go heating it or putting it in the oven to soften. Once you bring it out of the freezer, it should come to room temperature itself within a few hours.
Our advice, bring it out a day or before you need it. Then it would have properly come to because if you hurriedly use it before attaining room temperature, this can affect the quality of your food.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Flour
Does Spoiled Flour Affect the End Product? Yes. Just as fresh flour results in fresh products, bad flour produces bad quality. It might taste funny, or not be as nice as it would be if you had used fresh flour. Sometimes it may even smell funny too if the flour had an odor. If the flour had bugs in it that weren’t sifted or removed any other way, you will find them in the end product!
Does Bad Flour Affect my Health? Not in all circumstances. If you only had it once, it may not, but if you keep eating products made out of bad flour, there is likely to be a negative result. In any case, if you have consumed bad flour, you can visit your doctor for a quick check-up.
So there you have it; a detailed look at the life and times of flour! Now you can go ahead with your storing and baking, having gained good knowledge. Be sure to invite us when it’s ready!