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Nov 19, 2012 05:57 AM

Flour for Pie--How long will an open bag that's been refrigerated last?

I have an open bag that has been stored within a sealed plastic bag for months. Can I use it? It is King Arthur.

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  1. It should be fine. I store my flour for months in sealed containers out of the fridge. I buy it in 50lb sacks and it takes me about 6 months to work through one.

    1. Just take a sniff--if the flour is off (rancid) your nose will know. (But I agree with tzurris - six months shouldn't be too long.)

      1. "months" as in 6 or more like 36?

        flour can go rancid, but if it's been well-sealed and is less than 6 months old it should be fine. give it a whiff.

        btw, i store all flours in the freezer.

        8 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I think something has to go wrong for flour to go rancid. I very seldom bake, flour lasts me forever, figuratively speaking, in my pantry unrefrigerated.

          1. re: FrankJBN

            Likewise - but whole wheat flour can spoil.

            1. re: FrankJBN

              I don't know how long flour must sit in your pantry to be rancid, but I do know that it does go rancid. Not just whole wheat but bleached or unbleached white flour as well--in fact any flour, whether wheat or not. Flours definitely do not last "forever".

              I have tasted baked goods made by others with rancid flour and I can tell in the first bite, which all I can tolerate. Perhaps some folks' senses of taste and/or smell are less sensitive than others. In any event, rancid flour is good only for the trash bin, so I make a habit of sniffing my flour each time I use it. It would be humiliating to serve someone food made from rancid ingredients.

              1. re: janniecooks

                Maybe this is just about the choice of words, but for food to go rancid it has to contain fat or oil. The fatty acids in wheat germ are what can go rancid, but wheat germ has been removed from white flour - that's why it's white. "Without the germ, flour cannot become rancid," according to the Wikipedia article on flour. So if white flour does acquire an off taste, it has to be something else, doesn't it? I can't think what that might be, but maybe someone else here can say.

                  1. re: causeimhungry

                    I just remembered. In Ruth Reichl's TV series, one program was with a baker of bread. They were doing baguettes, and he said he always uses old flour - didn't say how old, but it must have been significant or there'd have been no reason to say it.

                    1. re: John Francis

                      "old" in a professional kitchen context has a whole different meaning than a 5-year-old bag of king arthur.

                      also this:


                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        What does "old flour" mean in a professional kitchen context? Details, please.

                        The Internet is full of contradictory information on all subjects, Who is Peter Johnson and what makes him an expert on everything to do with food storage? What use is an article that says, "Shelf life of flour depends on the kind of flour and there are many kinds of it. I won’t get into much detail here"? We need the detail, and we need it from a source we have reason to trust. Facts, not folklore.

                        Sorry if this comes across as rather sharp, but seriously, we're talking about whether to throw away a foodstuff that however old, may be perfectly good.