Storing flour for the long term is not that hard, although there are a couple of crucial steps that you have to take, otherwise, your flour will go bad before you have the chance of using it. A lot of people tend to stockpile flour, although very few of them know that with some careful packaging you can actually increase the shelf life of flour. On how long you can actually store flour will be determined by what type of flour you are using and what is the local climate.
You can store flour long term by storing it in small batches, keeping the flour in a cold place, not storing it on the ground or on the top shelves, storing it in a dark place, using airtight containers, using moisture absorbers, vacuum sealing the flour, storing it in a freezer and by using a pantry rotation system. Ideally, you should split up the flour into small batches, vacuum seal it and store it in the freezer, and don’t forget to write on the packaging when you have frozen it.
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The problem with flour is that a lot of bugs can feed on it if you give them the opportunity, this is why you often find weevils in your flour even if the packaging has not been opened. Humidity is also a crucial factor when determining how long the shelf life of the flour will actually be. Generally speaking, the more humid the environment is the faster the flour will spoil, although you can still increase its shelf life by packaging it correctly.
Your main goal when storing flour for the long term is to be able to use the flour months or even years after you have packaged it. In order to store flour for the long term, you have to protect it from bugs, temperature fluctuations, high humidity, cross-contamination, and even oxygen. A lot of people who stockpile flour will use 5-10 lb bags, and then just put it on the ground and use it whenever they need to.
The problem with this method is that this is not the correct way to store flour if you want to have it last a long time as you want. If you place the flour directly on the floor then the temperature difference between the bottom layer touching the ground and the top layer of the flour will be fairly high. In some cases this will alter its shelflife, you will notice that clumps are forming in the flour and even weevils eating away at the flour. If you are wondering if it is safe to eat flour that contains weevils then check out my recent article Weevils in flour safe to eat? ( 3 Step Removal ).
1. Store flour in small batches
By far one of the biggest mistakes you can make while storing flour for the long term is to store a lot of flour in the same container. Once a small portion of the flour will start to expire it will basically ruin the entire contents of the flour container. Ideally, you should store flour in small batches, simply by dividing up the flour into smaller portions. The main idea is that you will use the entire batch of flour after opening in a couple of days or weeks.
Big plastic containers are good for storing flour, but if you are frequently using flour for cooking then you will constantly open and close the lid. While you are opening and closing the lid you will cross-contaminate the container and add humidity, both of which will reduce the shelf life of the flour. Once the top layer starts to spoil you will have to throw out the entire container of flour. Depending on how much flour you are using every month, you should divide that amount and package the flour accordingly. If you want to store grains and then make your own flour then check out my recent article How to store grains long term at home ( Best Practices ).
2. Keep the flour in a cold place
Generally speaking, the hotter the local environment is the faster the flour will spoil. This is why it is extremely important to store the flour in a cold place such s a basement or pantry. In addition to this flour tends to be fairly sensitive to temperature fluctuations as well, so your best option is to store it in a place where the temperatures are fairly low and the room is not frequently used. A lot of people tend to store their flour in the kitchen, which is probably the worst place you can store it due to the high temperatures.
3. Don’t store the flour on the ground or on the top shelf
Some people who store flour in bulk tend to either place it on the top shelf or directly on the ground. These two positions are probably the worst when it comes to the flour’s shelf life. Although if you are not planning to store the flour for a long time you can definitely store them that way but it is not ideal. If you place the flour on top of the shelf then this is not a good idea as heat tends to move upward which means that the top shelf will have higher temperatures, and in order to keep the flour edible for a long time, it needs cold temperatures.
If you store the flour directly on the ground then the bottom layer of the flour will be a lot colder than the top layer of the flour which is not ideal. In addition to this if you store your flour on the ground then you are just making it easier for the bugs to access it. If you also want to stockpile some meats then check out my recent article How to preserve meat ( Top 12 Methods ).
4. Store the flour in a dark place
It is extremely important to keep the flour in a dark place, if you keep it in a bright place or directly in the sunlight then clumps will form in the flour due to moisture. In addition to this, a lot of bug eggs will hatch if you keep them in a well-illuminated area. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to keep it in a pitch dark place and never shine any light on it, but generally speaking, you should avoid illuminating the room for hours every day.
Depending on what you have in your food pantry, if your pantry is not dark for most of the day then due to moisture some food items will start smelling, and flour is extremely good at absorbing smells. Although flour will absorb smells which will also alter its taste but generally speaking it is still edible. If you also store a lot of canned food then you might want to check out my recent article How to store canned food after opening? ( Safe and Easy ).
5. Store the flour in airtight containers
It is extremely important that you store the flour in airtight containers, this way you will actually increase its shelf life. If you store the flour in airtight containers then you will have absolutely no problems with bugs in your flour. Flour bugs need oxygen in order to live, and by storing the flour in airtight containers you will limit how much oxygen there is in the container. If you have often found weevils and larvae in flour then by storing the flour in an airtight container you completely eliminate this problem.
In addition to this, you should also add a couple of oxygen absorbers, these will absorb the remaining oxygen in the container thus preventing any bug eggs to hatch. Do note that oxygen absorbers will expire after a while and they will also change color once they have expired.
6. Use moisture absorbers
Moisture absorbers absorb the moisture from the surrounding air, this is especially important if you live in a humid environment. If you live in a humid environment and you store the flour in an airtight container you will still have some moisture in the flour. After some time this moisture will make small clumps in your flour and sooner or later the entire content of the container will turn into a semi-solid mass.
Even if you do not live in a humid environment it is still a good idea to use moisture absorbers in your flour container.
7. Vacuum seal the flour
Now that you have divided the flour into smaller batches, you should vacuum seal each of them. Vacuum sealers are extremely useful especially if you store a lot of food, and they are relatively cheap. Some people freeze the flour before they vacuum seal it although this is not necessary. If you are worried about the vacuum seal sucking up the flour then just place a paper towel inside the bag on top of the flour.
Make sure that the area where the vacuum sealer actually seals the bag with heat that the paper towel is not obstructing it as the vacuum sealer will not be able to vacuum seal it. Once you have vacuum sealed the flour you can place them in plastic containers or in the freezer.
8. Store flour in the freezer
If you truly want to increase the shelf life of your flour then you should store it in your freezer. Just keep in mind that it is extremely important to vacuum seal the flour before you place it in the freezer. If you do not vacuum seal the flour then water droplets will form on the flour which will freeze and once you defrost the flour you will notice that the flour is moist from the excess water. Storing the flour in the freezer will increase its shelf life by a lot.
Just keep in mind that the best way to store flour in the freezer is to have them in small batches which you can easily use, the last thing you want is a massive block of flour in your freezer which will make it extremely difficult to use. In addition to this, you should not refreeze the flour which you have already defrosted.
9. Pantry rotation
Pantry rotation means that you place the fresh flour in the back of the shelf and use the oldest ones. This way you extend the shelf life of your flour in your pantry, and you should also do this in your freezer as well. Most flours have an expectation or best use date, although this does not necessarily mean that it is not edible, it is just a guarantee that if you consume the flour before the expiration date then it will taste the best.
As you can see there are several steps and methods which you can use to store flour for the long term. By far one of the most important points is to store flour in small batches, this way you can use the amount which you need and you can store the rest of the batched flour in your pantry or freezer without contaminating it with different products or by adding humidity to it.