The other day I was looking around my pantry with a cookie recipe in hand, ready to get baking. The problem is that I haven’t done any baking in what seems like years! The second I picked up my flour, I had to wonder if it was still any good. Does flour expire though?
The Many Types of Flour
If you’ve ever walked around the supermarket, then you know that there are so many kinds to choose from! Self-rising, regular, and whole wheat are only some of the options. It’s not any easier to figure out if you does flour go bad when you’re sifting through different types.
As a general rule though, most flour lasts for about a year when you store it well. The only exception is pretty much whole wheat flour. Since it contains a little more oil than other types, it will last maybe half a year or so.
What About the Expiration Date? How long does flour last?
Yeah, I figured you’d bring up the expiration date at some point. Hey, I don’t blame you; when I want to know whether something’s good, that’s pretty much my saving grace! In the end, though, that date is a raw estimate. Sometimes they’re right, but other times they can be a little off.
In actuality, most flour lasts beyond the expiration date. The amount of time just depends on the type. Flour, rice flour, cornmeal flour, and potato flour will stay strong for 6-8 months, while whole wheat flour and self-rising flour may only last for 4-6 months after they supposedly expire.
The flour that lasts the longest is cornmeal, which can stay good for 9-12 months after the printed date! Pretty amazing, huh? If you want to be conservative though, start checking your flour a year after you buy it.
White vs. Wheat Showdown
White flour and whole wheat flour are some of the most common types and can represent the extremes so to speak. White flour takes the longest amount of time to spoil, which is why it can last around a year normally and up to two years if refrigerated.
It can even be stored indefinitely in the freezer! Whole wheat flour, on the other hand, thanks to its oil, meets its timely end much more quickly. It can last a little more than a half a year in the refrigerator, and maybe a year in the freezer. You’ll smell it if whole wheat does flour goes bad since it’ll go rancid.
Check for Bugs (Yuck!)
As gross as it is, flour is a great place for bugs that either eat it or use it as a nursery. They can chew through the packaging before you even open it and ruin some perfectly good flour.
If you want to check, you need to hold some flour very still and check if it moves. The best way to do this is to put some flour in a plain glass jar. Press it together so you get a flat, hard surface on the floor and let it stand in a bright, warm area for a few hours. If there are worms in it, some will break the surface and be visible.
Throw out your flour products immediately if you see this! The most common infestations are tiny beetles, worms, larvae, or moths.
Storing Flour Properly
If you want to keep flour as long as possible, then you need to store it correctly. You can just stick it on a shelf in your pantry, but to keep it longer, put it in a plastic bag or some kind of airtight container. A cool, dry area is best. You can even take the flour and put it in the refrigerator or freezer even if you’d like.
For the most part, though, the flour should be fine in the paper bag it comes in until you open it. After that, an airtight container will give you the edge. Just be sure that no matter where you put it, that no water reaches the flour.
So Has it Does Flour Go Bad?
In the end, if you’ve looked through all of this and you’re still staring at your bag of flour and wondering, you can check for bugs or for that rancid smell. Those are the easiest ways to figure out if the flour is spoiled, but if you’re really concerned and you’ve had the bag for a while, it may just be better to grab a whole new bag from the store instead of worrying about it.
I don’t think I can actually use my flour after I let it sit out for so long without putting it away properly! I’ll have to make a trip to the store, but you might not have to. does flour go bad to expire?
Well, yes, but if you’ve done things a little better than I have then your flour is probably fine. Always make sure to check before you use it anyway, and try not to go past a year with the same bag. If you’re looking for a quick way to get rid of it, the world can always use more cookies!