When you think about foods that can be preserved in the freezer, flour may not be one that initially springs to mind. Since many people assume that flour doesn’t go bad when kept in the pantry, the idea of using a freezer to preserve it may seem pointless.
However, the flour will only have a shelf life of around three months when kept in the paper bag it is bought in, so if you don’t expect to have gone through the whole bag during this time, you should be finding ways to preserve the flour. You can move the flour into an airtight container to extend its shelf life or store it in the refrigerator.
To preserve the flour indefinitely, storing it in the freezer is your best option. Flour that has been frozen will be in its best condition if used within two years. However, flour which has been kept in the freezer for longer than two years will still be safe to use and eat.
Can You Freeze Flour?
Yes, flour can be frozen very effectively. If you don’t expect to use a whole bag of flour within three months, you should certainly consider freezing some of it to prevent it from going bad and avoid wastage. Transfer the flour you want to save into an airtight container, such as a ziplock bag, and keep it in the freezer for as long as you need to.
How Long Will Flour Keep in the Freezer?
The flour will be best when kept in the freezer for no more than two years, but it will be safe indefinitely if it is stored correctly at consistently freezing temperatures.
After two years, the flour will still be safe to use, but it may have started to lose some of its qualities. For example, it may not rise properly when used in baking. To further extend the life of flour kept in the freezer, add oxygen absorbers.
You can refreeze flour that has been defrosted, but continually thawing and refreezing flour can cause it to degrade, so it may not rise as effectively when baked.
How to Freeze Flour
Flour needs to be frozen in an airtight container with as little air as possible. A ziplock or vacuum-sealed bag is ideal. If you have purchased a bulk bag of flour, portion it up into several small ziplock bags so that you don’t need to defrost the whole amount when you want to bake a cake.
If you expect to be freezing the flour for more than a year, it can be helpful to put some oxygen absorbers into the container with the flour, as this will help to keep the flour in its best condition for longer.
How to Defrost Flour
Flour needs to be thoroughly defrosted before it is used in baking in order for it to rise properly. Get your airtight bag of flour out of the freezer and leave it on the countertop at room temperature inside the container. This will allow it to thaw without absorbing any moisture.
The length of time it takes to defrost will depend on the amount of flour in the bag, with a few hours being the average length of time. Any flour which has been defrosted but not used can be returned to the freezer.
Can Flour Go Bad?
Many people incorrectly assume that flour can’t go bad, and most of us will be guilty of keeping a bag of flour in the pantry for a year or more. Interestingly, if you keep flour in the pantry in the paper bag, you bought it in; it should not be kept for more than three months. You can extend the shelf life of flour by moving it into an airtight container, storing it in the refrigerator, or keeping it in the freezer.
How to Tell When Flour Has Gone Bad
Fresh flour doesn’t have a particular smell. However, once the flour has turned bad, it will develop a musty smell. If you suspect your flour has gone bad, look out for signs such as discoloration of the flour, an odd smell, or a clumpy texture. Flour pests like weevils or mold on the surface of the flour are sure signs that the flour needs to be disposed of.
The flour will go bad more quickly when it is exposed to moisture, heat, and light. For these reasons, take care to keep flour stored in an appropriate location to prolong its shelf life.
Storage Options for Flour
Flour should be kept away from moisture, heat, and light while it is being stored, but there are a number of ways you can choose to store this pantry staple to extend its shelf life.
Most flour you buy from the grocery store comes in a paper bag. If you want to keep it in this bag, you’ll need to make sure you use the flour within three months. Buying small bags of flour is a good idea if you want to keep it in the original paper packaging.
Moving your flour to an airtight container such as a mason jar or plastic tub with a lid will help to increase the shelf life of the produce. This keeps moisture and oxygen out and prevents pests from getting in. Flour stored in an airtight container should last for around ten months.
If you live in a hot climate, storing flour in the refrigerator is a good idea because heat causes the flour to go bad. Use an airtight container for the flour, and it will remain fresh in the refrigerator for around a year.
Keeping flour in the freezer will preserve it for the longest amount of time. Frozen flour in an airtight container is best used within two years. However, it will keep indefinitely when properly stored.