No matter the type of flour you have, you need to store it in a dark, cool, and dry place to keep it from expiring too soon. Any old pantry will do, provided that you don’t keep your flour on a pile on the floor.
While flour will easily keep for quite a long while if you store it properly, turning rancid might not even be your main concern with it. In our experience, insect infestations are also a significant threat! Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the risks, and we’ll teach you all about them.
Table of Contents
How to Store Flour Properly
For the best possible flour storage conditions, we’re going to recommend using mason jars or any other kind of lidded glass container (this one from Anchor is a good option).
- Vintage-style glass storage jar with 2-gallon capacity
- Great for use storing cookies, sugar, flour and other kitchen staples
- Durable, crystal clear glass
Of course, plastic packaging like this Vumdua set will do just fine, and the difference between the two will boil down to personal preference and pricing.
- ❀EXCELLENT MATERIAL: The empty plastic jars are made of food-grade PET rigid plastic, which is strong and light, not as heavy and breakable as glass. They are durable and can be washed with water...
- ❀SEALED & LEAK-PROOF: There is a layer of aluminum foil gasket inside the black lid, so that the lid can be firmly screwed on the round mouth jar without leaking, which keeps the food in the jar...
- ❀LARGE CAPACITY: You can get 3 complete 27 OZ clear plastic jars, each measuring 3.6 x 3.6 x 6 inches. Clear bottles are easy to identify the contents, perfect for filling grains, nuts, beans,...
It’s generally a great idea to move flour into a jar as soon as you’ve opened the packaging because paper doesn’t necessarily grant the greatest protection from decay. Further, flour is uncannily good at absorbing odors, and nobody wants their fresh home-baked bread to have a suspicious tang to it.
All jokes aside, once you’ve moved the flour into a jar, you can simply put it into your pantry and leave it be for quite a long while. Of course, as we already mentioned, it’s pretty important that your pantry is dry and reasonably dark. An excess of moisture and light will cause early rancidity and oxidation, respectively. Both are bad news for your flour.
Can I Refrigerate Flour?
Refrigerating flour isn’t a bad idea, all things considered. In fact, if you’ve got the room, and if you’ve got a spot where there’s not a lot of moisture around, that’s a great place to store your flour.
Should Flour Be Frozen for Long-term Storage?
You can freeze flour if you like. Much as is the case with refrigeration, storing your flour in the freezer won’t cause any damage, and it will extend its shelf-life even further than any other procedure would.
The only real downside to freezing flour is that your rise times are bound to be longer if you use cold flour in the recipe, but that’s not nearly as big of a problem as insect infestations and rancidity, we feel.
How Long Can Flour Safely be Stored?
Any white flour (i.e. self-rising, all-purpose flours) that’s stored at room temperature – or slightly colder in a pantry – will keep for about three months at a time. A fairly long shelf-time compared to some of the other things we’ve written about!
If you refrigerate your flour, though, feel free to keep it around for a whole year. Keeping it in the freezer, however, will easily double this number, and get you up to two years of shelf-life for common flour varieties.
Having said all that, whole-grain and whole-wheat types of flour contain a greater percentage of natural oils, and these cause it to spoil significantly faster. Expect these kinds of flour to last about half as long as white flour would, so a year in the freezer at best.
How to Tell if My Flour Has Gone Bad?
Any change in smell or color of your flour should be put under close scrutiny. If you notice an odd, musty smell, you’re probably going to have to get rid of your flour – just in case. If the smell is outright rancid, your flour has definitely expired already.
How to Prevent Insect Infestations in Flour?
We’ve been hinting at insect infestations being a major consideration for a while now, and it’s true. These little bugs – weevils – are basically a mainstay wherever there’s a trace of flour around, and dealing with them isn’t always easy.
Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a good or a bad thing that weevils are often industrially packaged alongside flour. Namely, female weevils lay their eggs inside the grain, and these eggs can sometimes survive the milling.
To deal with weevils (and/or any other insects you may come across in flour), just toss the whole package into the fridge for four days, or into the freezer for two days. This will inevitably kill any little buggers you may have, and you can filter the flour afterward to clean it all up. It’s not nearly as big of a problem as it might seem at first.
How to Tell if There Are Bugs in My Flour?
Recognizing a weevil infestation in time is crucial if you don’t want to have to toss the whole pack of flour out. If you find dark, brown-ish spots close to the top of your pack of flour, these are probably weevil eggs that haven’t yet hatched.
If you’re unsure, you can rub some of this dark flour between your fingers and try to catch a whiff of the smell. Weevil eggs will have a strange, minty smell to them.
Another great technique to check if you have bugs in your flour is to make a flat surface at the top of the jar/packaging and leave it under direct sunlight for a couple of hours. If you find the surface is disturbed when you check up on it, it’s a safe bet that your flour plays host to bugs of this or that kind.
Flour Storage Mistakes We’ve All Made!
While you technically can leave flour in its original packaging for long stretches of time, you’ll still get way better results if you pack it up in a jar. Airtight containers do wonders for flour of any kind, and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t use them for safekeeping.
Another major problem is if you end up with a weevil infestation and don’t notice it in time. Keep an eye out for any signs of bugs moving around your flour – these buggers do come up rather often, and you’re going to want to deal with them sooner, rather than later. Trust us on this one!
Keep Your Flour Fresh By Storing it Correctly
Flour is an extremely useful ingredient that all of us love having around. It’s great, then, that it’s pretty easy to store for long stretches of time.
As long as you can ensure that it’s kept in a dark and dry place, and if you manage to deal with bugs early on, before the infestation spreads, you can rest easy and not worry about your flour for months and even years on end.