Can Expired Flour Make You Sick?
Expired flour usually doesn’t cause any adverse health effects. At worst, the bread you bake using it will not be on par with that baked with fresh flour. However, this is not to say that out-of-date flour will never make you sick — if it has mold or starts to smell, consuming it will give you food poisoning.
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When stored in a cool, dry place, flour will keep for months or even years after the date stated on the package. Your flour will keep for up to 8 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to avoid contamination and spoilage. If your flour exceeds the amount you intend to use before its shelf life, store it in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator or freezer. You can keep the flour in its original bag, but for long-term storage it’s best to move it to an airtight container, which will prevent odors (the flour will absorb odors) and liquids on the freezer walls.
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Like many other products, flour remains usable long after the “use by” or “best by” date on the original packaging. The first thing to know is that white flour will remain usable long after the “use by” or “best by” date printed on the original packaging. It is not recommended to use expired baking flour as it may not rise properly or may not taste as good. Expired flour baking is great if you use it for bread, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods where taste is not important.
|Uses of Flour||Shelf life||Storage|
|Whole wheat flour||3 Months||Room Temperature|
|Whole wheat flour||6 months||Refrigerated|
|Regular flour||6-8 months||Room Temperature|
|Wholemeal flours||4-6 months||Room Temperature|
|Wheat flour||1 year||Room Temperature|
It can also change the texture, as flour that has been stored for too long is likely to have been exposed to a lot of air, which can damage the structure of the protein, causing baked goods to become more crumbly. If your flour is truly stale, the molecular structure of the flour will change and potentially produce harmful compounds. While the flour itself remains stable, the added yeast gradually loses its potency, as does a jar of yeast in the cupboard.
If your baked goods made with self-rising flour for a few years, or with self-rising flour for a few years, don’t rise like they used to, it means it has lost some (or almost) of its effectiveness. Yes, you can bake with expired self-rising flour; but even your pastries may not rise.
If you’re making pizza crust or anything else where flavor is critical, it’s best not to use old flour. To achieve the best results when cooking, it is important to know how to choose the right type of flour for each recipe. As the demand for certain types of flour has developed over time, many types of flour are now available on the market. From grains and seeds simply ground into powder centuries ago, we now have a wide variety of flours for everyone.
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. All-purpose white flour undergoes extensive processing that removes the oil-rich bran and germ from the grain, leaving a starchy endosperm. Gluten-free all-purpose flour made by mixing more nut or root flour also has a shorter shelf life due to increased moisture levels.
The ingredients of origin (wheat or arrowroot) and the method of processing greatly influence the shelf life of the flour. Whole wheat flour, as mentioned earlier, is more volatile and only lasts about 3 months, 6 months when refrigerated, and about a year when frozen. 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. 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.
For example, if you are making cookies, you will need to use a softer flour, such as baking flour, while for bread, you will need a harder flour, such as whole wheat flour. This might be a good idea if your home is warm, if you live in a humid climate, or if you just don’t run through flour very quickly. Anyone who cooks or cooks lightly uses flour regularly, so it’s important to know if the powder might make you (or the people you cook for) sick.
If the smell and taste are not rancid (stale, moldy or sour), then there is no reason to throw away the flour. In fact, when you open a bag or container of flour, you will most likely smell a sour, musty smell, which is a clear indication that the flour is bad. The thing is, you probably won’t know if your flour is expired just by looking at it (it doesn’t get moldy or smelly right away).
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. Any white flour, such as multipurpose or self-rising flour, stored at room temperature should be disposed of after three months; when stored in a cooler environment, any white flour will keep for six months. It’s best to just avoid using rancid flour and buy fresh new flour whenever you wonder about the status of the flour on your shelf.
Can I use Flour that Expired 2 Years ago?
If your flour is truly outdated, the powder’s molecular structure will alter, potentially releasing dangerous substances. However, flour, like many other items, will keep for a long time after the “best by” or “Best if used by” date on the original container has passed.
What Happens if you Bake with Expired Flour?
While the flour itself remains stable, the baking powder added to it loses its strength over time, just like the container of baking powder in your pantry. Yes, you can bake with self-rising flour after the expiration date has passed, but your baked goods may not rise as well.
How to know if flour is expired?
Do not worry if your flour has passed its expiration date. The best way to determine whether your flour is safe is to smell it. Fresh flour has a neutral odor while expired one smells off. It can be stale, musty, or almost sour and may lose its color. Large clumps of mold may appear if your flour has come into contact with water or moisture.