Does Flour Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

Flour is a kitchen necessity, but we frequently find ourselves with a half-opened box sitting in the cabinet for months.

Is flour perishable? Is it okay to use “expired” flour? These questions arise when you come across such a bag of flour.

brown wooden brush on white sand

Fortunately for you and me, flour lasts far longer than the expiration date on the bag, especially if properly stored. Continue reading if you’d want to learn more about flour storage, shelf life, and spoilage.

How Long Does Flour Last?

Aside from wheat flour, several other forms of flour are available, such as cornflour or potato flour. Fortunately, because they are so similar, you don’t need to memorize the shelf life of each species. The most obvious distinction is between “regular” flours and whole-grain flours.

Because whole grain flours contain more oil than white flours, their quality declines faster.

The best-by date is printed on the back of most flour bags. That date is merely an estimate of how long the flour will keep its quality.

Of course, it won’t spoil a week or a month later. It will also not make you sick if you eat it and will still taste good after the expiration date on the label.

How long does flour last once it has passed its best-by date? It’s difficult to say because it relies on various things, such as how the flour was manufactured. Here, the best you can obtain are approximate approximations.

White flour should keep in good condition for roughly a year at room temperature and two years in the fridge or freezer.

Whole wheat flour, as previously said, is more volatile and will only keep its quality for about 3 months, 6 months if refrigerated in the fridge, and a year if frozen.

Of course, these times are merely estimations and are only for the finest quality. The flour will be safe to use for many years to come.

Flour Varieties

Flour is frequently classified according to its amount of processing, which impacts its shelf life. The source component, such as wheat or arrowroot, also has an effect.

Because each is manufactured, all-purpose white flour, for example, often lasts longer than whole-wheat flour.

White flour is highly refined, which means that the bran and germ have been removed from the grain, leaving just the starchy endosperm. On the other hand, whole-wheat flour comprises all three sections of the grain: bran, germ, and endosperm.

Because the bran and germ are high in oils, whole-wheat products are more prone to spoiling. Lipids break down when exposed to light, moisture, or air, resulting in an unpleasant taste and odor.

Gluten-free options, such as almond or coconut flour, are frequently heavy in oil and may be more prone to rancidity than white flour.

Furthermore, gluten-free all-purpose flour, which commonly contains various nut- or root-based flours, may be more susceptible to mold due to its high moisture content.

How long do traditional flours remain in the pantry?

White flour

The traditional flour is the most shelf-stable of all the flours. When stored unopened in the cupboard, all-purpose flour can last six to twelve months from the date of purchase. If you open your all-purpose flour and return it to the pantry, it will still be fresh for six to eight months, but the refrigerator is a far better alternative: opened all-purpose flour will keep fresh for a full year when stored in the fridge.

flour made from whole wheat

The healthier version, however, has a shorter shelf life. Whole wheat flour is more nutritious than white flour because it includes the full wheat kernel, whereas white flour just contains the endosperm of the wheat. However, the whole kernel contains more oil than the endosperm alone, and oil can grow rancid.

As a result, whole wheat flour will keep in your pantry for three to six months after you bring it home from the shop or in the fridge for six to eight months. (Note: These instructions apply whether or not the package has been opened, as long as the contents have not come into contact with water.)

How about gluten-free flours?

There are many different types of flour available, and whole wheat flour is the most often used; it is completely forbidden for anybody on a gluten-free diet. So, how do the most prevalent types of gluten-free flour fare in terms of durability?

Unfortunately, none of them compare to wheat flour in this area, so you’ll have to use them up quickly (i.e., within a couple of months). According to and the Whole Grains Council, here’s how long some of the most popular gluten-free options will keep fresh.

Flour made from brown rice

This is one of the most popular and versatile gluten-free flours available, and it has about the same shelf life as wheat-based flours. The only catch is that correct storage conditions are essential in this case: Brown rice flour demands cool storage conditions; therefore, don’t keep it in the pantry. Instead, keep brown rice flour in the fridge for up to five months or in the freezer for up to a year.

Buckwheat flour

Buckwheat, a healthy and earthy-tasting gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, has the lowest shelf-life of the gluten-free lot. Buckwheat flour will only stay in the pantry for one month from the date of purchase, and the fridge will not save you any time. The buckwheat flour, on the other hand, can keep fresh in the freezer for up to two months, so that’s your best chance for making the most of this flour.

Coconut flour

This may not be the most popular gluten-free kind. Still, given the rising cult of coconut fans, it’s likely to become the next big thing soon…which is excellent news for anybody concerned about the freshness of their flour.

Coconut flour has the longest shelf life: it will keep fresh in the fridge or freezer for nine to 12 months—but avoid storing it in the cupboard since coconut flour is not shelf-stable.

Flours made from amaranth, sorghum, and oats

These popular gluten-free flours may be kept in the cupboard or the freezer. (Don’t bother with the fridge—it’ll do you no good.) These flours may be stored at room temperature for up to two months, but freezing doubles their shelf life, delivering up to four months of freshness.

All-Purpose Flour1 year2 years
Bread Flour6 months1 year
Gluten-Free or  Alternative Flours(banana, buckwheat, coconut, nut, oat, rice, etc.)3 months6 months – 1 year
Oat Flour3 months6 months
Self-Rising Flour4 to 6 months1 year
White Whole Wheat Flour3 months6 months
Whole-Wheat Flour1 – 3 months6 months – 1 year

How Can You Tell If Your Flour Is Bad?

Flour, in general, cannot go bad. Therefore it is no longer usable in recipes even after it has expired. You may be confident that it will be safe to use if it has been properly preserved. However, there are a few instances where you should discard the flour and purchase a new bag:

  • If you notice little insects or bugs in the container or bag, the flour has gone bad, and you should discard it immediately. It’s a good idea to disinfect the whole container and storage area to ensure you’ve gotten rid of all of them.
  • If your flour comes into touch with water, it will become clumpy and show signs of organic growth on the surface. This is rarely useful. Therefore it’s best just to throw it away.
  • Finally, assuming no insects or strange growths exist, take a good whiff at the flour. If it smells rotten or stale, it has most certainly gone bad and should not be used in your recipes.

With practice, you’ll be able to identify poor flour and know when it’s time to buy a new bag. Make it a practice to constantly smell all of the flours you use in your recipes so you can become an expert and recognize when the flour is no longer safe to use.

How to Spot Flour Beetles

In addition to the oils in the flour going rancid, you should keep an eye out for flour insects, often known as weevils.

These are small bugs that live inside flour and lay eggs within it. The gees then open, and the little weevils happily devour the flour until they are fully developed, at which point the cycle begins again.

If you have weevils in your flour, you will most likely notice them moving as soon as you scoop into it. They may not be immediately visible on the flour’s surface since they burrow into it, so you will need to move the flour about to view them.

While weevils are perfectly safe if eaten inadvertently, no one wants bugs in their meal! So, if your flour shows evidence of weevils, the best course of action is to discard it (however, some recommend just sifting the bugs out to keep the flour).

Keep your flour in an airtight container inside the refrigerator to keep weevils at bay.

Can I continue to use it after it expires?

That window of time between fresh flour and rotten flour is priceless. This is when personal preference comes into play. Consider tasting a pinch of flour to ensure that it tastes okay, as this may go bad before the smell goes away.

There’s no need to throw out flour if it doesn’t smell or taste bad. Examine the color as well, since it should not alter. If you are baking or cooking, the “best by” date should not significantly impact the final result.

It is necessary to know how far past the “best by” date you should begin paying greater attention to your flour.

How to Store Flour

It is not difficult to store flour. Unopened packages should be stored in a cold, dry place. The pantry is the greatest option, but a kitchen cabinet would suffice.

As with other dry commodities such as baking powder, the essential thing is to keep the flour free from any water.

That is, after opening the packet, it is usually better to move the powder into an airtight container that can be firmly sealed. Or a flip-top container like the ones we use to store cereal.

Of course, you can keep the flour in its original packaging, but this provides little water protection. So I recommend doing so only if you’re convinced that the location where you keep the flour is devoid of moisture.

If you’re not a frequent baker and only use a specific type of flour (e.g., whole wheat) once every few weeks, it could be best to keep it in the fridge or even the freezer.

Low temperatures assist the flour keep its quality for a longer period of time. This is especially true for gluten-free substitutes such as coconut and almond flour.

As a result, if you want to utilize that particular box of flour for more than a few months, chilling it may be the best option.

When keeping flour in the fridge or freezer, keep in mind that it must be carefully protected from moisture and cold. As previously said, you can store the flour in an airtight container. Alternatively, keep the flour in its original paper bag and place it in a freezer bag. That should also work.

Can Flour Be Freeze?

The usual variety of flour includes just approximately 10% water and may be safely frozen. Furthermore, some include more vegetable lipids than others, such as whole-grain varieties; thus, freezing is an excellent technique to protect them from becoming rancid.

Flour is typically packaged in paper or cardboard. High moisture will ruin an unopened package and affect the flour’s quality if placed in the freezer. Packing it in an airtight container or zip lock bag is preferable.

It is critical to avoid freezing a big amount of flour in one packet since it should not be refrigerated after thawing. If you use flour frequently, storing a packet in the refrigerator is a preferable alternative. You will lengthen its shelf life and avoid oxidation and rotting this way.

Remove the flour from the fridge at least two hours before using it. Otherwise, because the dough is sensitive to extreme temperature variations, it will have lumps and will not develop correctly.

Allow it to sit on the counter to adapt so that you don’t end up with a sticky, impossible-to-shape mixture. However, cold flour is used in some recipes, such as crusty pies, since it gives the dough a flaky texture.


Editorial Staff

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