Can flour go bad? How long does it last? How do you tell if the flour is bad? These and many others are some of the questions some of my blog readers have been asking since the start of this year. If you are one of those who are wondering whether flour goes bad, as a cook, I understand your concern and I’m ready to help you find out.
Types Of Flours
Before I tell you whether flour goes bad or not, it is important to understand the different types of flour at your disposal. There are many types of flour that you can obtain from the grocer’s shelves. They include refined flours, whole grain flours and nut and alternative flours.
Refined flours are made by grinding wheat without bran and germ. This type of flour does not have much oil so they can stay longer on the shelf. It is commonly used for making bread, pastry, self-rising and all all-purpose.
Another category of flours is whole grain flours. These flours contain the germ and bran including important nut rients. They also have much oil so they tend to be oxidized and turn rancid once they are exposed to air.
The third category of flours you might consider are nut and alternative flours. Just like whole grain flours, these kinds of flours have high levels of oils so they also tend to oxidize and turn rancid when they are exposed to air.
Can Flour Go Bad?
Basically, Yes. Just like any other baking ingredient, flour can go bad if it stays on the shelf 4 to 8 months past the best before date printed on the package. The most common reason why flour spoils is whether there is moisture in the storage shelf. As stated earlier, certain types of flours such as refined flours and nut and alternative flours tend to develop a rancid smell when they are exposed to air.
Another reason why flour goes bad is if weevils inhabit the storage compartment and then lay eggs in the bag. These eggs not only stain the flour but also react with it to form harmful compounds. Some say you can freeze the flour for 2 days to kill the weevils but it is safer to throw it in the trash.
How Long Does Flour Last?
The shelf life of any type of flour entirely depends on how it is stored and how long it stays after the printed expiry date. When properly stored, it can last for several months beyond its printed expiry date. In determining the shelf life of any type of flour, my content incorporates research from multiple resources including United States Food & Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Most types of flours such as rice flour, corn meal flour, potato flour and corn meal flour last for 6 to 8 months past the expiry date printed on the package. Other types of flours such as whole wheat flour and self-rising flour last for 4 to 6 months past the expiry date printed on the package.
But keep in mind that flour, like other types of baking ingredients, usually has a best before date, expiration date and not a use by date. So it may be safe to use it before the expiry of the best before date.
How To Tell If Flour Is Bad
It is easier to confirm if your flour has spoilt is the color and smell. Flour which has gone bad turns its color or contains a rancid smell. However, your flour can go bad without showing these signs. There is a lot of health risks associated with spoiled flours so it is important for you to practice maximum safety and enjoy your flours before their shelf life has expired.
How To Store Flour?
The best way to store any type of flour is to use its original package but also inside an airtight container. Your flour will also last for long if you store it in a cool dry place. Even if the place is cool and dry, avoid sprinkling water around it.
All varieties also last long when stored in a vapor proof container. The main reason for these is that the powders may absorb the chemicals and odors from anything around the storage compartment. Also, to extend the shelf life of whole grain flour past the best for use date, it is recommended you store it the freezer or fridge.
I hope now you are informed. Flour, just like other cooking ingredients, can go bad. Although the information that I have provided is generally reliable, always remember that individual cases may vary and that my advice should not be taken as a replacement for your health care professional.
If you have any other way to help people know how to distinguish flour that has gone bad, feel free to share with us. If you have any question, also feel free to ask in the comments section below.