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Flour is an ingredient that is quintessential in baking. It’s also used in many recipes, such as Easter cookies and homemade Cheerios. But have you ever bought flour and realized that it was too much for a recipe that you were working on. Then you ask “does flour go bad?”
I’ve also been in your shoes before. I was new to baking back then when I found a old flour in my pantry for a year. I was planning to make bread that time, and I wasn’t really sure if I should take a risk or not.
does flour go bad?
a sack of Flour on the chopping board
The short answer is yes. Just like food, this baking ingredient has an expiration date.
But the shelf life would depend largely on the type of flour we are talking about.
Types of flour
spoons of Flour
There are many types of flour. Perhaps the most commonly used is all purpose flour, a combination of soft and hard wheat. As the name suggests, all-purpose flour can be used to bake bread, pizza and even biscuits. It’s that versatile.
The shelf life of all-purpose flour can last up to 24 months, especially when wrapped or sealed and refrigerated. When left in a warm place, all-purpose flour can quickly spoil. So I would suggest storing your all-purpose flour in a cool and dry place. If the weather in your place is humid, you better store it in the freezer.
Another type of flour, self-rising, can last as long. If properly sealed and refrigerated, it can last up to 24 months. Putting it in a cool, dry place tends to cut short its shelf life to 10 to 15 months.
Here’s one tip— you can make your own self-rising flour if you have all-purpose flour at home. Simply add 1 ½ teaspoon of baking soda with half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of all-purpose flour.
Instant flour, meanwhile, is primarily used in gravies. It dissolves quickly I also know people who use it in making pie crusts. Compared to all-purpose flour, it is lower in protein. Instant flour has a lower shelf life of 6-8 months when properly sealed and refrigerated. It can also last for more than a year when stored in the freezer.
White flour is the type of flour that can last for years. In fact, it is safe enough to be used up to 10 years when stored in an airtight container. This is the kind of flour that bakers store for long-term storage.
Buckwheat flour is known for having a nutty flavor. Buckwheat flour is also a good alternative to white flour being high in fiber and protein. It is commonly used in making pancakes. Being gluten-free, this is a type of flour that is ideal for people with celiac disease.
As for its shelf life, it can last up to a year when stored in the freezer. When kept on the shelf, it can last for 3 to 6 months.
Speaking of wheat, whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life when compared to the other types of flour due to the presence of wheat germ. This results in a higher rancidity potential when it is not stored the right away.
If stored in the ref, it can last for 3 months. If it is in the freezer, this flour can be safe for use up to 6 months.
How to detect spoiled flour
Barley and Flour
As you can see, flour can last a pretty long time when properly stored. But how would you know that the flour in your shelf is stale?
The easiest way to tell so would be the presence of flour bugs. These look like moth larvae. These are very small pests about 3 mm long with a reddish brown color. If you see this type of pest, then immediately discard the flour.
Another sign that flour has become rancid is the smell. If the flour has a foul odor, then it is likely to be spoiled.
Other uses of flour
Perhaps you are the type of person who doesn’t like discarding food. Or you simply want to make the most of the flour you bought.
Whatever the case maybe, here are some tips in using flour apart from cooking and baking:
Turn it into a modeling clay
Mix three cups of flour with a quarter of a cup of salt and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Knead the dough and then mold it into your preferred shape. Bake in the oven for an hour.
Keep ants away
Sprinkle flour in areas where ants line up. This should keep them at bay.
Polish copper or brass
Mix equal parts flour, salt and vinegar. Apply this to the brass or copper and allow to dry. This should make your metal shine like brand new.
Barley, eggs and a bowl of Flour on the table
Flour has its expiration date, just like any other ingredient or food that you keep in the fridge or freezer. Keeping it in an airtight container and placing this in a freezer can prolong its shelf life.
Do you have any thoughts to share regarding flour? I will be happy to read them in the comments section. Better yet, share this article on Facebook and Twitter.