How Long Does Flour Last In The Pantry? (And How To Store It)

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Sunny Forest

If you have flour in your pantry and you can’t remember when you purchased it, you may question if it is still safe to use. You might even wonder if flour ever goes bad, and if it does, how long it lasts. The reality is that flour does expire. Therefore you must know how long it lasts, and how to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

Flour lasts anywhere from three months to about one year in the pantry depending on several factors. Wheat flours go bad much faster due to the wheat germ and fat content. White flour can last one year, but once opened, it should be used up in six months. Store flour in a non-porous and airtight container. Storing flour in the fridge or freezer will significantly prolong its life.

Flour is a staple in the kitchen, and is essential to most baking. Therefore, there is a good chance you are going through your flour quickly enough that you don’t need to worry about it expiring. Still, if you have several types of flour or a large bag you have been using for a while, you might wonder how long it will last, and how you can keep it fresh for longer. Keep reading to learn about how long flour lasts, and how you can store it so it lasts longer.

How Long Does Flour Last Before It Goes Bad?

Flour can last anywhere from just two or three months or upwards of a year in your pantry. The exact expiration date depends on a few factors. Generally, white and all-purpose flour (the flour people buy the most) lasts between ten months and one year in the pantry in its unopened container. Once it is opened, the shelf life goes down by half, to about six months.

If you cook with whole wheat flour with a high wheat germ content, know that this type of flour tends to go bad much faster. Wheat germ and whole wheat flour have a higher fat content. This fat will eventually turn rancid and will cause the flour to spoil much faster than bleached white flour.

Four Factors That Impact How Long Your Flour Will Last

1. The Type Of Flour You Use

The type of flour you use has a profound impact on how long you can expect the flour in your pantry to last. Processed white and all-purpose flour lasts a long time, upwards of 10 months to a year if properly stored. This is normally more than enough time for anyone who bakes more than once a month.

Whole wheat flour lasts less than half as long as white flour in some cases. Therefore, it is important to properly store wheat flour, and possibly buy it in smaller quantities if you don’t plan to go through it quickly.

2. The Container You Store It In

The container (or lack of container) you use to store your flour will impact how long it lasts. Airtight containers help keep moisture, bacteria, and pests away. An airtight container will help your flour last as long as possible. A porous container, or no container at all, will result in your flour going bad sooner rather than later.

3. Temperature And Humidity

The weather conditions in your kitchen pantry, or wherever you store food if you don’t have a pantry, also impact how long your flour will last. This is particularly true if you don’t store it in an airtight container. Flour in hot and humid conditions will go bad much faster than flour kept in a cool dry place.

4. Where You Store It

Flour stored in a dark and cool place will be far better off than flour stored in the sunlight. Storing flour in a kitchen cabinet or something similar is a good idea. If you want your flour to last as long as possible, you might want to move it to a freezer.

Ways You Can Tell Your Flour Has Gone Bad

Now that you know the factors that impact how long your flour will last in your pantry, it is time to learn the warning signs that your flour has gone bad. If you can’t remember when you bought your flour, or if it hasn’t been stored well, you will want to make sure the flour does not suffer from any of the symptoms below. If it does, then you should toss the flour in question and purchase a new bag.

It Smells Bad: When flour starts to go bad, it tends to give off a smell. If it is turning rancid, this smell is often sour or off-putting. It may also smell stale or simply “off.” If your flour smells funky, it is probably going to taste just as bad.

It Has Formed Clumps: If your flour has formed hard clumps, it has probably gone bad. These hard clumps often occur over time when flour has been exposed to moisture. Clumpy flour is often a sign your flour is old.

The Flour Has Changed Color: Flour does not normally change color for no reason. If it has changed color, then there is a good chance it has taken a turn for the worst. If your white flour looks a bit yellow, for example, then it is a sign it has gone bad.

There Are Weevils Or Other Bugs In It: Weevils can find their way into your home and your flour, especially if it is not properly stored. If you notice bugs in your flour, regardless of when you bought it, then it has gone bad.

Five Ways To Store Flour And Make It Stay Fresh Longer

1. Use Glass Or Other Non-Porous Containers

One of the best ways to ensure your flour will last as long as possible is to put it in a glass or other non-porous container. A good storage container that lets no air in will keep your flour safe from moisture, and also pests.

2. Keep Containers Sealed Air-Tight

A container is only as good as how well it is sealed. Make sure you always close the flour storage container tightly. Keeping your flour sealed air-tight keeps moisture out, and also keeps critters from sneaking in.

3. Store Your Flour In The Refrigerator Or Freezer

While your pantry is the most popular place to store your extra flour, you might want to store some of it in your refrigerator or freezer. If you bought whole wheat flour or a large bag of flour you know you won’t use quickly, consider placing a portion of it in the freezer. This can keep the flour fresh for twice as long in many cases.

4. Keep Flour In A Cool, Dark, And Dry Location

When you organize your pantry, make sure you choose the right spot in your pantry to store your flour. Keep it away from sunlight, and ideally place it in a cool and dark location within your pantry. Keep it away from heat sources, and moisture.

5. Buy White Flour Instead of Whole Wheat

Whole wheat has health benefits, but it goes bad quickly. So, while you might be tempted to choose whole wheat flour over bleached, know that not only do these two products produce different results, but they also have different expiration dates.

Unless you use whole wheat flour a lot, buy it in small quantities, and buy larger bags of all-purpose flower instead, as it lasts twice as long.

Wrapping Up How To Store Your Flour So It Will Last Longer

Flour is found in most kitchens around the world. It is used in everything from pancakes in the morning, to dumplings in the evening, so it is no wonder there is an entire aisle in most grocery stores dedicated to its many varieties. Flour does not last forever though, so if you don’t use it frequently, you must store it properly.

Use an airtight container made of glass or something else that is non-porous. Keep it in a cool and dry place, and consider placing extra flour in the freezer for storage. Lastly remember that white flours tend to last much longer than whole wheat flours, so buy accordingly.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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