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Oct 29, 2008 08:09 AM

how long can flour keep?

I have 18 month old flour. It has been stored in an airtight container from the day I bought it. It smells fine. Is it worth the risk or should I toss it?

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  1. I asked the same of a home economist friend of mine a while ago and she said it depended on how much moisture was in the flour originally and whether it had been contaminated with other substances -- like butter or fresh herbs - which will have made it sour. She suggested that I heat a small amount in the oven or toaster oven. Let it cool and taste it.

    But even after that test which turned out OK, I ultimately decided to dump it because that weekend there was a sale on breadmachine flour.

    1. I've kept flour frozen for a couple of years without ill effect, but I wouldn't keep longer than 12 months under the circumstances you describe.

      3 Replies
      1. re: todao

        all purpose (de-germed) flour keeps just fine at room temperature. I would not hesitate keeping and using it. Open up and see if it looks and smells ok. I cant imagine what RISK there would be to using it.

        If it is stone ground or contains the germ of the wheat, it may be prone to getting rancid. These flours should be well sealed kept in refrig or freezer. for long term storage. I emphasize the well-sealed since in the frig - unlike on the shelf in your kitchen, these flours can pick up off flavors.

        YOur eyes and nose are the best test of whether flour is good - supermarket flour is not a very perishable product if you keep the bugs out of it. And even if you get bugs some kind can be sieved out. So be brave and use your flour.

        1. re: jen kalb

          I would second that; supermarket white all purpose flour is incredibly shelf stable and 18 months in an airtight container won't harm it.


          1. re: legourmettv

            I have no idea how old my white flour is but it has to be at least a year old. I buy large bags of it at Costco and store it in a big, airtight container in my pantry. I don't use it all that much, so one bag lasts a long time. Every time I use it, I check for buggies, but it never occurred to me that it might "go bad". Nothing I've made with it has tasted off. :D Guess I'll keep smelling it occasionally. :)

      2. For those of us who live in very humid areas (I live in Costa Rica), the only solution is to freeze flour. I keep my flour and my pasta in the freezer at all times. If I did not do this, it would quickly be infested with "weevils". Works like a charm for me and the products keep indefinitely.

        That reminds me---does anyone have comments on freezing mascarpone?