The Grapevine

Does Flour Expire? What You Need To Know

Flour is one ingredient we cannot do without because it can be incorporated in multiple cuisines and dishes. Pastas, pizzas, breads, desserts, pies and noodles are made of flour.  

Grinding wheat into grains is the most common way to produce flour. Today, there are gluten-free varieties of flour including almond and coconut flour. Due to its versatile uses, flour is always kept in storage as the go-to ingredient in every household or restaurant kitchen.  

The type of flour, the manufacturing process employed and the approach to storing the ingredient plays a huge role in preventing its expiration. A recent article on Healthline explains these differences clearly. 

Whole Grain Flour vs. White Flour

In comparison to whole-wheat flour, white all purpose flour has a longer shelf life, owing to the differences in the manufacturing processes. For example, white flour is a highly refined product that goes through so much processing that the germ and bran layers are discarded. The endosperm left behind does not have much oil and hence its quality does not deteriorate easily.  

But when it comes to whole-grain flour, the three components ( bran, germ and endosperm) remain intact after grinding and packaging. If exposed to light or exposure, the bran and germ are filled with enough oil to easily develop a foul taste and smell due to fat content easily being affected. 

Almond and coconut flour can turn rancid faster than white flour for the same reason: high oil content. Among the other alternatives, the gluten-free all purpose flours are susceptible to forming mold when exposed to moisture. 

Storage Makes A Difference

The United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) deems flour as an ingredient that can be preserved, albeit in the right conditions. For consuming flour in top quality, it’s best stored in air-tight containers in either a cool or dry place depending on its requirement. Freezing and refrigerating are also effective storage techniques that could help too. 

White flour can be preserved in good condition for six to eight months on an ordinary shelf, while it can be preserved up to two years in refrigeration and in frozen conditions. Refrigeration helps, however, provided that flour is stored inside an air-tight container, so there is no moisture or water to form mold. 

On the other hand, whole grain flour is best by three months on the shelf, lasts up to six months when refrigerated and up to one year when stored in the freezer. 

Other Signs To Watch Out For

Flour needs to be discarded if water seeps in, contributing to the growth of big clumps and organic bacteria. Disinfectants to cleanse the cabinets can help prevent the entry of insects that also cause the product to deteriorate in quality. 

Rancid smelling flours are also indicative of spoilage. If your favorite baked dish does not taste as good suddenly, it could mean the flour is no longer in good quality. 

Dough rolled in flour The storage techniques and varieties of flour indicate spoilage of the product. Pixabay, Public Domain