Baking and food preservation experts often recommend storing flour in your refrigerator. However, the best place to store your fresh, new bag of flour depends more on your needs, how quickly you plan to use the flour and what kind of flour it is. In addition, to protect your health and safety, pay attention to signs of spoilage and heed warnings to prevent it.
General Storage Recommendations
The general recommendation is to keep flour cool and dry. All flours have a shelf life of about six months. Once the flour package is open, the shelf life decreases; store it in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag for longer storage. Storing flour in a container or bag also protects it from odors when stored in a freezer or refrigerator. Oxidation occurs when the oils in the flour are exposed to air, resulting in a rancid flour. Storing flour in a refrigerator or freezer extends its life and protects it from insects and rodents.
White flour, also called all-purpose flour, has a longer shelf life than some flours. It lasts up to eight months when stored in a tightly sealed container in a cabinet. Keeping it in the refrigerator extends its life by one to two years.
Whole Wheat Flour
The natural oils from the germ in whole wheat flour cause it to become rancid quickly if stored at room temperature. It will last only about a month if stored in a cabinet. Store all whole wheat flours in the refrigerator. Use a tightly sealed container for storage and it should last about six months to one year in the refrigerator.
Warnings and Suggestions
Hot weather speeds oxidation; store all flours in the refrigerator when the temperatures are warmer. When storing in a container, fill the container eliminate air and retard oxidation. Do not store flour in its original paper packaging once opened; the packaging is porous and may expose the flour to moisture and odors. Do not use the flour if it doesn't look the same as when originally stored or if it has an odor.
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Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.