Hydrolytic rancidity is due to lipase enzyme activity which increases when sufficient moisture is available. Lipase hydrolyzes triacylglycerols to non-esterified fatty acids, resulting in flour with reduced baking performance, a bitter flavor, and off aromas 2. Oxidative rancidity occurs enzymatically as lipoxygenase works to rapidly oxidize the non-esterified fatty acids present from the work of lipase enzyme activity, and also through non-enzymatic oxidation as the flour is exposed to the atmosphere.
Both forms result in reduced baking performance, nutrition because of a loss of fatty acids , flavor, and an off aroma 3. How long does flour last? A question I get asked so often! Generally, the more whole grain the flour, the shorter its shelf life for reasons discussed above if kept in the same conditions.
Regardless of the type of flour, though, it's always best to keep flour wrapped in an airtight container in the freezer. White flour, such as all-purpose or bread flour, typically has a use-by date between 9 to 15 months. I personally like to use my white flour within 12 months of the milling date if it's listed. If you buy your flour at the market, it should have a best-by date printed on the sack. Whole grain flour such as whole wheat or white whole wheat flour typically has a use-by date between 3 to 9 months of the milling date.
I like to use my whole wheat flour as soon as possible if kept out on the counter, or within 6 months if kept in the refrigerator, or longer if in the freezer. High-extraction flours, like Type, have a higher percentage of the bran and germ present in the flour. As such, I tend to treat these flours like whole grain flour and use them as soon as possible. In my experience, their shelf life is typically somewhere between 6 and 12 months earlier is better!
Keep in mind that in some locations around the world, especially those with very high humidity, flour stored in the pantry will likely spoil much faster than in drier locations. The primary means for determining if your baking flour has gone bad is the smell. In my experience, it's a smell that's hard to quantify, but you know it when you smell it—to me, it's a cross between sour and waxy crayons.
In terms of baking performance, flour that has gone bad tends to present in a loaf of bread with reduced volume and a pale, weakly colored crust. The flavor will also be off, usually taking on bitter notes, which are especially pronounced with whole grain flour and there reason many think whole wheat flour is bitter by nature. Now that we've looked at why a flour spoils, let's look at the best way to store flour to keep it fresh for longer. White flour has a large portion of the bran and germ removed during milling.
Because the bran and germ are where the highest concentration of lipids oils reside, which are the primary cause for spoilage, white flour has a much longer shelf-life, usually up to 12 months from the milling date. When I buy 5-pound sacks of white flour, I like to transfer the flour to air-tight containers with a label that can hold the entire 5-pound sack see more container recommendations at the end of this post.
This way, I can neatly stack the containers in my pantry, and accessing the flour is clean and easy with a pop-top and wide opening. If you want to prolong the life of your white flour, place the original sack in a plastic bag, press as much air out as possible, then stick the wrapped bag into the refrigerator or freezer. Room temperature is fine for up to 12 months. If you have a large sack of white flour and don't expect to use it all within 12 months, transfer some to a smaller container for the pantry, and place the rest into the refrigerator or freezer.
To store whole grain flour, I use a medium-sized Cambro container that's air-tight to hold the grain, and then I stack the containers in my freezer. If I don't have room, I'll place the containers in my refrigerator or my dough retarder. Keeping the grain out of sunlight, dry, air-tight, and at a cool temperature will significantly lengthen the shelf-life.
Room temperature is fine for up to 6 months, but the best option would be the freezer, where it will keep up to a year or longer. Whole grain berries last significantly longer than flour since the outer, protective bran layer is still intact. This bran layer is meant to protect the berry—a seed, after all—until it finds moisture that will begin seed germination if the conditions are right.
Because one of the enemies of whole berries is moisture—it's best to keep them as dry as possible. And even though I live in a low moisture environment, I still inspect my grain if it's been a while since I've used it to ensure the grain is still dry and no pests move in unnoticed. Further, keeping the berries dry and cool or cold will prolong their shelf-life even further.
I typically buy whole grain berries in large sacks that I split, placing some in an air-tight 6-quart container and then the rest wrapped in plastic and into the freezer. Cold temperatures are best, but whole grain berries will have a long shelf life I like to use them within years if kept dry and at room temperature.
When I mill flour fresh for bread baking , I like to use it that day or the day after. Related to my discussion above on lipids, using flour soon after milling ensures it will have the best flavor, aroma, and nutrition. There have been plenty of times where I've milled flour in the morning only for something to come up, preventing me from using the flour that day or even the next.
In this case, I'll cover the flour in a container and place it in the refrigerator. The day I want to bake, I'll take it out and let it come to room temperature before mixing it into my dough or warm the mixing water to make sure I hit the desired dough temperature for the dough mix.
For more information, see my guide to working with freshly milled flour at home. Just wash gently the mylar and make sure it is dry dry dry before using it again. It sounds like the above poster kept the flour in its original packaging, then wrapped it in the trash bag while it was in the freezer. Upon removing it from the freezer and thawing before repackaging , any condensation that formed was on the trash bag, which was then removed and discarded.
It kept the moisture off of the original paper packaging. The food and trash bag never touched each other. It should be removed from the plastic bag and paper bag and vacuum seal in a mylar bag. Do you think, Vacuum packing 1st than freezing and than returning to a normal temperature will kill the eggs? Check over the whole article again: Freezing in food-grade plastic bags, then thawing before removal, should kill any eggs or microbial contamination, for the same reason freezing meat will help prevent spoilage; the moisture in the microbes or eggs will turn to ice crystals, destroying their internal structure.
The Mormons can flour straight from 50 lb bags. They use the large 9 cans and place an oxygen pack inside. They say the life expectancy is years if placed in constant temperature about 72deg I thing…. No freezing no baking only an oxygen absorber…. I was able to use my flour storage for almost 9 years. I discarded the two last cans, but I think 9 years in storage is amazing! Wow… Flour would last that long on just the shelf. I would guess it will last about 5 years. Flour is always safe to eat even if it develops a yellow tint or an odd smell… If life gets tuff and you need to eat.
This is recommended if your storing food for disaster prepping. Yes they do! Almost any grain will or can have insect eggs. It might be because that is usually packaged in plastic whereas many other flours are in paper bags which can easily be penetrated by insects. Thanks look forward to more. I put my flour in ziploc bags with oxygen absorbers in each bag, I plan to put the bags in a 5 gallon bucket, the ziploc bags are not full, how do I know if the oxygen absorbers are working?
Air leaks in through the seal and through tiny holes in the plastic bag itself. But, over time, the air will leak bag into the bag. I stored white flour for two days in freezer that is what most said should I start over? If you are storing it without oxygen absorbers though, such as in a vacuum sealed bag or plastic containers, then it needs to go in the freezer to kill pests.
We have just done a full post on the long-term storage of cornmeal. When placing 5 lb bags of flour in mylar bags with OAs, do I have to remove it from the original packing? But, I think if you vacuum seal it first it may fit in 1 gal mylar bags. So is there any reason to take the flour out of the paper bag it comes in if I was going to do the following..
Leaving it in seems like it will make things a bit easier on the other end. You could keep the flour in the original bag. Personally, I would freeze anyway, because if the objective is long-term storage over 1 year , the oxygen absorbers will help abate microbial spoilage; mold spores are not like bacteria, and will not necessarily be eradicated by freezing, but their growth will be abated by deprivation of both oxygen and air moisture.
Does brown rice have botulism if stored with oxygen absorbers. Can it be used to feed dogs safely. Should it just be thrown out. Was put in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers in What about whole wheat flour also. They start to go rancid quickly usually about 2 years shelf life. Thanks for your post! I store my flour in food safe buckets with bay leaves thrown into the bucket. Bay leaves will kill bugs. Your thoughts please.
It seems like there is a high likelihood of mistakes though. Great article with great content! Great information for anyone looking to store things long term. Is it ok to put OAs directly into the flour. Say one inthe middle of flour and one on top? Or just put OAs on top always? Mine always go on top though because I try to work fast: I fill the Mylar bags with flour, give them a nice shake to settle the flour, and make sure everything is set up.
Only then do I get out the OAs — which means they end up on top. Same as previously said, good info and thanks for being concise. I hate recipes where the author gives her life story before you can find the ingredients. Question: Flour, cornmeal and other dry goods.
Can I put them in mason jars and seal with vacuum? Yes, that generally works. They can take 6 weeks or so to hatch, meaning you end up with an infestation in the jar. Our books are only in e-format now. The exception is Disaster Preparedness for Women, which you can get as a hardcopy on Amazon.
It has to do with the nitrogen content of the food and closed package. Nitrogen is another gas found in air. Oxygen absorbers only remove oxygen, not the nitrogen, so the O2 can be completely removed without the bag getting sucked in like with vacuum sealing. Being gluten-intolerant, I would like to store gf flour, but gf flour often uses some brown rice flour in the mix. Does that include brown rice flour? You read correctly. There is a lot of fatty oils in the bran part of brown rice.
I personally would just make my own GF flour mixture using white rice flour and other processed grains. These last a very long time when stored with OAs. Love how to the point you are without wasting a lot of words. One thing about YouTube videos is they talk to much.
They take 20 min to tell a 5 min story. One last thought in the event of a system crash because they are just printing money could one not let some bugs get into the product as protein? Ideally the bug-infested product should be cooked; just like meat needs to be cooked, even insects could have some nasty bacteria in them.
Unlikely but still possible. I know you meant it as a joke, but eating insects is a great source of survival protein. If I put my rice in food safe buckets and then put it outside when the temp is freezing or below for 2 days, what happens when I bring it back inside the house. Will the rice sweat and ruin the rice? And will heat kill the eggs.
Say I put flour in food grade buckets, how hot would it need to get in my garage or on my porch to kill eggs? Also if I heat my flour in the oven to kill the eggs, how deep a pan should I use, oven temp and how long? I have 25 pound paper sacks, can I put the whole bag in the sack in the oven? Ii am looking for a way to kill tbe eggs before putting the flour into 5 gallon buckets without oxygen absorbers.
ALSO what happens when you move? Say you have flour, rice, beans in 5 gallon buckets and you go from hot to cold or cold to hot, do you have to worry about mold? Though 10 days is a bit excessive for killing the eggs the longest recommendation I found was 7 days and 3 days seems to work fine for me personally. Thanks for the comments! All you need to do is put the flour in sealed mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
I would avoid storing any whole-grain flours though in hot temperatures the natural fats will start to go rancid. Some people do like to put their sealed mylar bags in buckets as protection against physical damage earthquakes in CA!! In your case, maybe it makes sense to put some white flour in Mylar bags with O2 absorbers for emergency use. Keep the flour you use regularly in the freezer and rotate through it as needed.
I live in a dry climate Nevada and just bought some mylar bags to store my flour and rice. Do I really need to add oxygen absorbers? I would like to transfer the items to paper bags first and then the mylar bags and finally the 5gal food grade buckets.
Thank You! Any advice is greatly appreciated. Hello there! I just came across your site, and you provided me with exactly the information I was looking for. Where do you recommend purchasing Mylar bags and Oxygen Absorbers? TIA Lisa. One of your options to storing flour is to vacuum seal the whole bag. Do I need to worry about bugs from the actual flour bags as some other peppers advise not to store with the bags to avoid bugs?
If there are bugs, they will be in the flour too not just the bag. To kill bugs and their eggs, you need to freeze or microwave the food and let it comem to room temperature before storing. The same applies to corn pasta.
Dry cereal like Cheerios usually stores really well. That will start going rancid fairly soon. Cheerios have very little fat in them, so they should last a very long time in Mylar. The vitamin content would deplete over time, but this is true of any food. Unfortunately, almond and coconut flour have a lot of natural oils in them. They will go bad fairly quickly even in Mylar with O2 absorbers.
Ideally, you should store whole almonds as there is less surface area and they will last longer. You can buy hand-crank mills for grinding almonds into flour during power outages. Would this make it spoil sooner? We will use heat to remove any insect eggs prior to storing. Yes, light will destroy certain vitamins in flour. So long as you rotate through the flour regularly, it should be fine on your windowsill.
Hello, Sadly I did not know to transfer flour from bag it comes in. Bought flour over a year ago, it has been in the same bag stored at room temperature. Does this mean the flour is not good? Should I just discard it? But I also feel like I need a legal disclaimer to do so at your own risk! Freezing is definitely the easiest option. Hey Diane. I recently ran out of flour and opened up my storage bucket of white flour that has been in a food grade bucket with gasket, in a mylar bag with O2 absorbers, for 5 years.
I was excited to see that the flour looked perfect. But when I baked a couple of loaves of bread with it, the bread baked up perfect, but it tasted weird. Almost metallic. Any ideas as to what might be wrong? Did you add baking soda or baking powder to the bread? That tastes metallic when it goes bad. I freeze the flour in its original package. I re-package in smaller zip lock bags, push out as much air as possible, then vacuum seal the smaller portions in food saver bags… Thoughts?
That would work. They have too many fats and start to go rancid quickly. For almond flour, you are better off storing whole almonds and then grinding them when you need the flour. Whole nuts last longer than nut flour. See how to store nuts for the long term. I have been reading your answers to many questions; but I would like to verify please.
Store in dark cool room until needed. Is that correct? Thank you so much. Thank you again. Curious about this too; hoping to find the answer. Just to varify- can I put the flour in the freezer original bag or something else recommended?
You do NOT need to freeze flour first if you will use oxygen absorbers. Yes, that is correct. What would be the shelf life of doing that? What Mylar bag and OA are you purchasing? Brand name please. Unfortunately, almost all of the ones are made in China like everything else we buy. I put my flour in the freezer in the original bag. I intended to then take it out and package it. Have I just ruined all my flour or can I just bring it to room temperature and then package it?
You did not ruin your flour. Then you can package it for long-term storage. So Pillsbury is telling me that their flour is still in good shape for at least 10 months. Flour will generally last much longer than 10 months or even a few years even without any special storage. Can you repackage flour using brown lunch bags prior to vacuum sealing to freeze for storage. Also do you have to prefreeze before doing this? Our basement gets humid and think freezer would be safer than trying the Mylar bags.
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The bag flour comes in is typically made of paper, which is not airtight. That means moisture can get into the flour. Even more unpleasant—tiny. Here's how to store your flour so it stays fresh and bug-free. You'll also find special tips for whole grain, nut, and seed flours. Flour is a dry ingredient commonly used in baked goods, store flour in an airtight container or a resealable freezer bag, after pressing.