Flour is a staple of the kitchen and something that should always be on hand. However, for many people, that large package of flour purchased to make pancakes will sit in the pantry collecting dust, eventually ending up in the trash because it is spoiled.
So how can you store flour to have it on hand when needed without excess waste? There are several ways to store flour safely. Sealing flour in an airtight container, keeping it in the fridge, or freezing it, are all excellent options.
Still, there is much to consider before simply tossing flour into the pantry.
The Benefits Of Freezing Flour
There are many reasons to freeze flour that you are not immediately using. Besides extending the product’s shelf life, freezing flour provides numerous benefits.
Freezing Flour Kills Pests
Believe it or not, flour is the ideal environment for bugs. Often referred to as pantry pests, tiny, sometimes microscopic creatures will make your dried goods their permanent residence.
A kitchen shelf or pantry is not safe from sneaky bugs looking to make themselves at home, and you may not notice.
Various species of tiny bugs are often found in flour and are known as ‘flour bugs’ or ‘pantry pests.’
Pantry pests infest any dry, stored food and can be found in everything from dried fruits and cereals to pasta, rice, and flour. They are even regularly found living in spices stored in the pantry.
Flour bugs are tiny. Some are so small they can be almost impossible to spot with the naked eye. These unwanted roommates infest with ferocity and damage dried goods with ease. Pantry pests also multiply rapidly and can quickly spread around a home.
Never mind that it is disgusting to think of bugs in your cereal or other dry goods. These itty-bitty bugs will spoil products quickly.
Freezing Flour Makes It Last Longer
Choosing to freeze flour will significantly extend its shelf-life. The average shelf-life of plain white flour is generally between 4-8 months and usually about 6 months.
Corn flour will last longer, around 9-12 months, While rice and potato flour will last as long as regular flour. Whole wheat flour has the shortest shelf-life, lasting approximately 4-6 months, and it is the same for self-rising flour.
Thankfully, flour can be frozen and stored for up to 2 years. However, if you plan to freeze flour, you must ensure that it is frozen in an airtight or vacuum-sealed container.
This will prevent the formation of water droplets that will later melt and moisten the powdered product.
While freezing flour is a handy way of ensuring you have it on hand when required, you must ensure that it is fully defrosted and has come to room temperature before use.
Using cold flour when baking will prevent baked goods from rising and cause them to become rubbery.
Boss-Level Flour Storage Using Mylar Bags With Oxygen Absorbers
If you really want to be the envy of all your flour-storing friends, or you just want to ensure the product maintains optimal freshness, then you may want to consider investing in some mylar storage bags with oxygen absorbers.
These unique storage bags are crafted from a metal-like material. They block light, moisture, and oxygen, keeping your flour or other dried goods safe, secure, and fresh for a long time.
Alternatively, you can purchase oxygen absorbers that can be added to any resealable storage bag or container to extend shelf life. Using oxygen absorbers in flour storage will significantly increase shelf-life. In fact, this simple addition could mean the product lasts up to 10 years!
Canning flour is an excellent option, so it is on hand when you need it but stores well for more extended periods.
To can flour, you will want to begin by freezing it to kill off any pests in the original packaging.
As noted, many microscopic pests make their homes in flour, even before you bring it into yours. Freezing flour for 48 hours will kill off these unwelcomed guests.
When canning flour, the process is the same as any other type of food. Using canning jars, lids, a funnel, some paper towels, and oven mitts, you can create batches of flour to store for later use.
Just be sure to clearly date each jar, so you know when it was created. You also want to ensure that the jars are completely dry and moisture-free.
A Leafy Little Trick
When you purchase flour from the grocery store, you will notice it has a “best before” date printed on the packaging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture explains that ‘best before’ or ‘best used by’ dates help consumers and retailers decide when food is of the best quality. These dates are not an indicator of the product’s safety.
While you can consume flour after the ‘best before’ date and spoiled flour will likely not kill you, it can ruin an otherwise fantastic meal. Thus, to get the best quality and bang for your buck, you want to keep flour fresh as long as possible.
Along with storing flour in an airtight container or freezing it in bulk or batches, another tip that helps increase its shelf-life is bay leaves.
Any long-time baker will tell you adding bay leaves to stored flour will increase the time it remains fresh and ward off pests.
One thing to note is that placing the bay leaves directly into the flour can make it challenging to use the flour when needed without accidentally scooping up part of a leaf.
To combat this issue, place the leaves in an open ziplock, or pile them in a measuring spoon that you leave in the container.
How To Tell Flour Is Spoiled
Now that you know how to store flour for an extended period, you should not have to worry about it being spoiled, right?
Not exactly. Even in ideal conditions, the flour will eventually spoil. Determining the freshness of flour is often thought to be tricky, but if you rely on your nose, it is easy as pie.
Spoiled refined flour, such as all-purpose, pastry, or self-rising flours, will give off a sour smell when past its prime. Nut and seed flour, such as flax, almond, or hemp flour, on the other hand, will have a burnt, bitter taste after expiration.
For whole-wheat flour, like wheat, spelt, and barley, there will be a ‘strange’ or ‘rancid’ smell when the product is no longer useable.
Trust your nose and instincts, and do not combine old flour with a new bag, as this will only shorten the shelf life of the entire batch. Flour can benefit from a significant shelf-life when stored correctly, making it an ideal product to have on hand when SHTF.
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