Can Four Spoil?
Although flour has a lengthy shelf life, it usually expires in 3 to 8 months. Since it contains less fat than whole-wheat and gluten-free flour, white flour may last the longest. The shelf life of flour can be increased by securely sealing it in an air-tight container and storing it in the fridge or the freezer.
Flour is shelf-stable, so storage is pretty hard to go wrong, but you can extend the life of your flour by storing it in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer. When it comes to flour storage, you can’t go wrong, as according to the USDA, flour is stable, meaning it keeps well at room temperature. Generally, flour is a shelf-stable product that can be stored safely at room temperature in the pantry. Since flour should be at room temperature when you need it (because #baking science, folks), keep enough flour for regular use in your pantry.
As mentioned earlier in our flour shelf life guide, all flours can last longer when stored properly in the freezer. The most common type of flour, all-purpose white flour, can last about a year in the pantry if stored properly, and indefinitely longer if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Properly stored, flour can last up to two years and can be used in a variety of recipes.
If stored properly, unopened white flour can be stored one year past expiration date in the pantry, 2 years past expiration date in the refrigerator or freezer. If you store all-purpose flour properly, you can greatly extend its shelf life. Like many other products, flour remains usable long after the “use by” or “best by” date on the original packaging. You have nothing to worry about because you can safely use the flour even after the expiration date.
|Regular Flour||6-8 months later than the stated date|
|Whole Meal Flour||4-6 months after the stated date|
|Oatmeal, coconut, gluten-free flour||3 months|
Whether or not the expiration date has passed, you should always bake any recipe that includes flour before eating it. If your flour does not show any of the following, you can bake and cook with it. If the flour appears yellow or grey; shows signs of mold if hard clumps of moisture form or if you see signs of insects, discard it. In most cases, the flour comes in a paper bag, and if kept in a place that is protected from moisture and insects, it will be enough for a long time.
You will likely use alternative flours less frequently than whole or all-purpose flours, so it’s best to refrigerate the bags. If you bake occasionally and prefer to use whole, nut, and gluten-free flour, you should consider storing whole flour in the refrigerator or freezer, as it spoils more easily and isn’t cooked often enough to be eaten quickly. In addition, some flours contain more vegetable fats than others, such as whole grains, so freezing is a great way to prevent rancidity.
The hulled grains used in most flours only contain the endosperm, so they do not contain fat and therefore do not run the risk of becoming rancid. Whole grain white flour has a much shorter shelf life than refined flour because whole grain flour contains grain bran and germ (meaning they have been less refined or processed) that are rich in fiber, nutrients and oils that spoil faster and more sensitive to light, moisture and air.
While bean flour tends to keep a little longer than whole grain flours like oatmeal, it does keep for about six months, so it’s best to keep these flours in the freezer. It’s a good idea to store any of these flours, including almond flour, coconut flour, and ground flaxseed, in the freezer to extend their shelf life to about a year. You can also put white flour in the freezer to extend its shelf life from about a year to two years. You can double the shelf life by storing flour in the refrigerator and also by storing it in an airtight container.
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Keeping an airtight container in a cool place will double the shelf life of the flour by preventing oils from spoiling. Refined flour that has been stored airtight or at least tightly wrapped (to keep it dry) in the back of the freezer can remain stable for quite some time. Cooler temperatures can help slow the breakdown of oils, so it’s especially helpful to store whole wheat flour in the freezer in an airtight container.
This is especially true for low fat flours, but even whole wheat flour can be stored in a dry, cool, dark corner of the pantry. Most types of flour can be stored for a long time, but if stored incorrectly, they can go bad and acquire a rancid smell and strange taste. Knowing how long flour can be stored and whether it has gone bad is part of healthy and safe food preparation.
Humidity and cold can reduce the quality of alternative flours after odors from other products. These flours and flour mixes often contain nut or root flour, which makes them go bad faster, so you can expect them to last three to six months, depending on storage conditions. So you can expect whole wheat flour to last three to six months in the pantry after you bring it home from the store, or six to eight months in the refrigerator.
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Regular flour tends to keep 6-8 months later than the stated date, while wholemeal flours are usually best kept only 4-6 months longer. Based on years of experience (both mine and my mother’s), I would say that flour is easily stored for months (sometimes even years) beyond its expiration date. I’ve used flour that was between a month and a year old with great success.
Oatmeal, coconut flour, gluten-free flour: If you store oatmeal in your pantry, it can keep for up to three months. Flour has an expiration date, but if stored properly it will last for several months for cakes, biscuits, pastries and bread. When properly packaged and stored properly, refined flour can last six to eight months at room temperature, up to one year in the refrigerator, and up to two years in the freezer.
Can I use flour that expired years ago?
If your flour is really bad, the powder‘s molecular structure transforms and can potentially produce toxic compounds. But like many otherdry items of foods, the flour will stay good long past its “best by” but it need to be store in dry and cool places.
How to tell if flour has gone bad?
The easiest way to know if your flour is safe is to smell it. While fresh flour has a neutral odor, stale, musty, or almost sour flour smells off. It could also appear discolored. Furthermore, if your flour has been exposed to water or moisture, large clumps of mold may form.
Can you use flour 2 years out of date?
So unless your flour is genuinely expired, the chemical formation of the powder changes, which potentially produces quite the harmful compounds. However, flour, like many other foods, will keep up for a long time after the “best by” or “better if used by” date printed on the original container is not there.