Flour is used for making many dishes and is one of the most essential pantry items. It is used for baking cakes and breads, thickening soups and sauces, and making many savory items. It is milled from wheat, but there are many different types of flour that are milled from other cereals or grains. Every household generally purchases flour in bulk and then stores it for future use. However it is important to know its shelf life as well as the proper storage requirements. Wheat flour is the most used flour in cooking, although there are other types of flour like cornflour, buckwheat, amaranth, rice, quinoa, and tapioca flour.
Shelf Life of Different Types of Flour
As mentioned above there are different types of flour. Wheat flour too can be divided into whole wheat and white flour. Whole wheat flour is obtained by grinding the entire kernel of wheat grain. White flour has a whitening agent added to it and is used for making breads and cakes. White flour are of two types; all-purpose and self-raising flour. All these types of flour should be stored in an air tight containers and kept in a cool dark place, away from heat and humidity. However flour does not have an infinite shelf life and it might get rancid if stored for a long time.
The shelf life of whole wheat flour is considerably lower than white flour since the wheat germ present in it contains unsaturated oil, that makes the flour go rancid within a short period. Once you have opened the original packaging, whole wheat flour will last for 2-3 months when stored inside an air tight container and kept in the pantry. If you want to extend the shelf life of this flour, then tightly seal the flour in an air tight plastic container and freeze it in your freezer. You can store it this way safely for a period of 6 months to a year. However, always make sure that you have tightly sealed the container containing the flour as moisture and air can make the flour go lumpy and rancid.
The shelf life of white flour is about 7-8 months when it is stored in the pantry, in air tight containers. When stored in the freezer, the shelf life is extended to about 12 months. For long term storage, the freezer is the best place to store flour. It not only keeps the flour fresh but also helps to retain its nutritive value. Storing white flour in sealed containers is very important as penetration of moisture or air inside the container can make the flour go rancid. Flour should not be stored more than a year as it loses all its nutritional benefits.
With proper food storage techniques the shelf life of flour can be increased. Some types of flour like amaranth and millet flour have lower shelf life than white flour. It is therefore advisable to purchase them in lesser quantity and consume them soon for the sake of food safety.