Does Flour Go Bad? Everything You Ever Wanted To Ask About The Shelf-Life Of Flour
As a wife and a mother of two, I do a lot of baking, ranging from pizzas to donuts, which is why I usually keep several pounds of flour in my pantry.
When I was doing this year’s spring cleaning, I found a bag of flour tucked in the corner of the pantry, and I was wondering if it is still safe for use.
Of course, I didn’t want to jeopardize my family by cooking with flour that has gone bad, so I had to do my research.
To save you from spending hours of googling your way to the right answer to this important question, I’ll share all of my findings with you, in this single article.
All you need to do is read it, from top to bottom. 🙂
Related: Learn To Find The Best Flour Sifter With Barbara
How long does flour last?
The shelf life of flour depends on many factors, including the type of flour, the best before the date and the way it is stored.
When all these factors are taken into account, we could say that flour lasts between four months and two years.
Since most of the flours have a “best before” date and not an expiration date, they can usually be used even after the date in question. Of course, this only counts if the flour is stored properly.
The best ways to store it are in the original container, any air-tight container or a plastic bag, but I’ll share some more storage hacks with you later.
Approximate shelf-life of flour by type
Each type of flour has a different expiration date.
Here is an approximate shelf-life by the type of flour:
- Typical refined flour lasts for six to eight months.
- Self-rising flour remains good to use for about four to six months.
- Rice flour won’t go bad for six to eight months.
- Potato flour is the same as rice.
- Whole wheat flour remains fresh for four to six months.
- Cornmeal outlives them all with nine to twelve months of shelf-life.
Does flour go bad and how can you tell when it is spoiled?
The answer to the most important question asked here is: yes, flour can go bad, especially if it is not stored the right way and if it has passed its “best before” date.
But this newly-found information requires more questions to be answered.
For once, how to tell if the flour is no longer safe for use?
Rancid smell is the biggest indicator of flour gone bad, but you can also see this for its texture and moldy taste. If you notice tiny bugs lingering onto it, you can know for sure that this flour belongs to the trash.
How to store flour to extend its shelf-life?
The key to storing flour in a way that extends its shelf-life definitely isn’t what I did – leaving an opened bag of flour in the corner of a pantry for half of a year.
The trick is that storing is not the same for all types, so here’s a short guide:
- All refined flours including self-rising, pastry and bread should be kept in a cool and dark place in an air-tight container.
- Whole grain flours, such as spelt, wheat, quinoa, barley, and buckwheat can be frozen to slow down the oxidation that makes them most prone to becoming rancid. If there is no room in the freezer, you can also refrigerate these flours.
- Nut and other alternative flours (e.g., hazelnut and almond) also need to be frozen, but they can be kept in the refrigerator as well.
Regardless of where they are stored, all flours should be packed in an air-tight container to prevent bug infestation.
I keep my freezer and the pantry well-organized by using square containers because they use 25% less space than the round ones.
What to do when the flour is close to its expiration date?
Buying food in bulk can be a good choice, money-wise, but are you sure that you will be able to use all of it before the expiration date? Sure, flour is used in the kitchen almost daily, but try to calculate how much you are spending a month and buy based on that knowledge.
If you already have a bunch of flour that is nearing its expiration date, first you should inspect it for moldy smell and weird texture, but don’t trust only your eyes. Bugs can be incredibly tiny, and it would be best to freeze flour to kill any pests that could have inhabit your flour during the days on the shelf.
Also, you can do what I do; bake a bunch of treats. You can invite your friends to join the tasting, pack lunch for your kids, make a care package, etc.
Some of the cookies that can last for a long time (even up to two months) are amaretti, biscotti, brandy snaps, butter cookies, fruitcake cookies, graham crackers, meringues and peanut butter cookies.
So, to answer the most important question of this article: yes, flour can go bad. But, you can do whatever is in your power to extend its shelf-life and make delicious treats for your family.
Now that you know how to recognize signs of spoilage, you should take a peek into your pantry and check your flour stocks for any “symptoms”.