Cakes, bread, biscuits, pie crust or pastries, gravy or thickener…
It doesn’t matter if you are an avid baker or not, flour is one of the most essential pantry items. It can be used for baking cakes, breads, thickening agent in soups and sauces. One would find most households generally purchase flour in bulk to some extent. Wheat flour is the most used flour in cooking, but there are many different types of flour that is milled from other grains.
Types of Flour:
There are many types of flour and it is very important to know which flour is right for the job. All flour is different and switching to a different type can affect the success of your recipe.
All-Purpose Flour: Also known as Plain flour. The most commonly used flour in the United States. This is a blend of hard and soft wheat. It can be bleached or unbleached.
- Unbleached Flour – is flour that as it ages naturally bleaches by oxygen in the air. Best for yeast breads, Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, éclairs, cream puffs and popovers.
- Bleached Flour – chemically treated with chlorine and has less protein than unbleached. Best for pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
Shelf- Life for Cabinet storage: 7 – 8 months if properly stored in an air-tight container, or refrigerator up to one year.
Amaranth Flour: Gluten-free – It can be used to replace 25% of the flour in your recipes and is great for gluten-free baking when combined with another non-grain flour or starch. . Other considerations: will not keep well if it is stored in a warm location or if it is exposed to sunlight. The flavor and aroma will become bitter if stored improperly or for excessively long periods.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 6 months in the freezer if stored in a sealed in a tightly sealed container
Barley Flour: Has a sweet, nutty flavor and may be added to your baked goods for additional flavor and nutrition and a wonderful texture. Try substituting 1/3 cup of barley flour in place of regular flour in biscuits, pancakes, cookies, muffins and breads.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: up to 4 months in the freezer in a tightly sealed container. Short shelf life when stored in the pantry.
Bread Flour: White unbleached flour made from hard wheat, sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid (ascorbic acid increases volume and creates better texture). This is the choice for yeast products.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: several months when stored in an air-tight container and up to one year in the freezer.
Buckwheat Flour: This flour is a good choice for people with gluten problems – This flour is Gluten-free. Nutty flavor. “The protein in buckwheat is said to be one of the best sources of protein available from plants and it contains all of the essential amino acids,” according to whatscookingamerica.net. If you don’t have any wheat or gluten sensitivities, you can blend buckwheat flour with wheat to boost both nutrition and flavor. If using buckwheat for bread, no more than half of the total flour should come from buckwheat.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 2 – 3 months when stored in an air-tight container and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Cake Flour: Is soft wheat flour which is bleached with a fine texture, it has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour. This flour is great for baking cakes, cookies, some quick breads and muffins. Tip: You can substitute bleached all-purpose flour, but minus 2 Tbs. of flour for each cup in the recipe.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 3 months when stored in an air-tight container and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Corn Flour: corn flour is high in fiber, it digests slowly making you feel fuller long…giving you energy
Shelf life for cabinet storage: up to one year in a cool dark cabinet in store in a tightly sealed container. Shelf life increases in the flour is stored in the freezer.
Gluten Flour: From spring wheat, high in protein. Primarily used for diabetic breads or mixed with other non-wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 3 months when stored in an air-tight container and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Instant Flour: granular flour which dissolves quickly in hot and cold liquids. Used in sauces and gravies.
Tip: Will not work as a substitute for all-purpose flour
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 6 – 8 months when stored in an air-tight container and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Kamut Flour: Kamut wheat flour is perfect for anyone looking for a whole grain addition to baked goods. Other considerations: whole-grain Kamut flour usually lasts longer than whole-grain wheat flour because it has lower moisture content than other wheat.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: up to one year freezer storage if stored in tightly sealed container.
Millet Flour: Unlike most flour, Millet flour is gluten-free flour and is alkaline, which makes it easy to digest and helps balance the body’s natural tendency towards acidity. Replace up to 25% of the flour in your recipe with millet flour for added nutrition. It also has a mild flavor. Other Considerations: can become rancid quite rapidly if no stored properly. Best to grin millet as needed to ensure the best flavor.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: will keep for about 2 months in the refrigerator and 6 months or longer in the freezer in stored in a tightly sealed container.
Oat Flour: Excellent source of dietary fiber, they also reduce serum cholesterol levels in the body. Add your oat flour to your baking recipes or as a thickener or breading – can replace up to 20% of the flour in your recipe...
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: up to 3 months in the cabinet if stored in a tightly sealed container, 6 months if stored in the freezer.
Organic Flour: This flour is milled from organic wheat and is usually not enriched with vitamins.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: Same as flour
Pastry Flour: Also know as Cookie flour. Made from soft wheat. Falls in-between all-purpose and cake flour. Uses – cookies, biscuits, brownies, quick breads and pie crusts. Do NOT use for
Tip: Not readily available at grocery stores, but you can find it at specialty stores and online. You can substitute a 2 to 1 ratio of all-purpose flour and cake flour.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 6 months when store in air-tight containers or up to 1 year in the freezer.
Quinoa Flour: Is high in protein, calcium and iron. Use this delicate flour when baking, substitute for half of the all-purpose flour in many recipes or completely replace wheat flour in cakes and
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 4 to 6 months in the freezer if stored in a tightly sealed container.
Rice Flour: Also called Mochiko (Japanese) or Pirince Unu (Turkish). This flour is milled from rice, either brown or white rice.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: If White Rice flour stored in air-tight containers can last indefinitely. While Brown Rice Flour stored in air-tight containers in the refrigerator of 4 to 5 months and freezer up to 1
** This is one Flour, the White Rice Flour, that is good for long-term storage.
Rye Flour: Other considerations: rye flour with the germ removed will keep for longer periods than whole-grain rye flour
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: several months in the refrigerator if stored in a tightly sealed container. In the freezer for up to a half-year.
Self-Rising Flour: Also known as Phosphated Flour. Uses – biscuits, some quick breads but never for yeast breads.
Tip: Make your own self-rising flour – measure the amount of all-purpose flour needed and then add 1 ½ tsp. of baking powder and ½ tsp of salt and mix.
Shelf life for cabinet storage: 7 – 8 months if stored in air-tight containers and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Semolina Flour: This flour is made from durum wheat (hardest type of wheat grown). This flour is the highest in gluten. Uses – for making pasta and Italian puddings.
Shelf life for cabinet storage: 1 - 3 months if stored in air-tight containers and up to 1 year in the freezer.
Soy Flour: Flour made from soy. Other considerations: full flat versions of soy flour do not keep as long as the fat-free versions. Soy flour has a nutty flavor and is high in protein and fiber. You can replace up to 30% of the flour in your recipe with soy flour or use it as thickening agent in cooked dishes. Baked goods made
with soy flour tend to brown more quickly
Shelf life for cabinet storage: 5 to 7 months if properly stored in tightly sealed containers. The refrigerator or freezer is the best locations for storage.
Spelt Flour: One of the most popular and greatly available of alternative baking flours. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor. A popular substitute for wheat in baked goods.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: If stored in tightly sealed containers will keep for several months in a cool dry cabinet and 6 to 12 months in the freezer.
Sorghum Flour: Powerhouse of nutrition with superb flavor to gluten-free baking. This flour is high in protein, iron, dietary fiber, antioxidants which supports cardiac health and the starch and protein takes
longer to digest which is helpful for diabetes. Originally this flour was used more for pancakes, porridges, beer and flat breads but it is becoming more common to use in baked goods such as cakes, cookies, breads and muffins.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 4 months freezer storage if stored in a tightly sealed container.
Teff Flour: This grain is tiny in size but packed with nutrition. It is higher in protein than wheat, high concentration of calcium, thiamin and iron. This flour is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels. It contains no gluten.
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: When stored in tightly sealed containers will keep for 4 months in the freezer
Whole-Wheat Flour: Also called Graham Flour, made from the whole kernel of wheat. Is higher in dietary fiber and overall nutrient content than white flours. Does not have as high a gluten level, so often
it’s mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast bread. Other considerations: a drawback with whole-wheat flour, it that its shelf life is shorter than highly processed white flour
Shelf Life for cabinet storage: 6 months to one year in the freezer if stored in tightly sealed containers. If stored in a cabinet, it will keep for only a few months.
How to Buy Flour: Only purchase flour in tightly sealed bags or boxes. Do not purchase flour in torn packages or in open bins, this can expose the flour to air or insect contamination.
Packaging: All flours should be stored in an air-tight, moisture proof food grade container. This container could be a Mylar bag, polyethylene bags, plastic / glass container or #10 cans. Store your flour in manageable amounts such as 1 lb. bags; this will also help with rotation. Most importantly it allows easier inspection and if contamination does occur it does not allow exposure to your whole stock of
flour. Air causes flour to spoil quickly, make sure to store all flour in air tight containers.
Note: Rodents and insects can penetrate plastic bags
- Flour must be kept cool, dry and covered. This prevents the flour from absorbing moisture and odors and from attracting insects and rodents. If flour is exposed to air, then oxidation of oils occurs which causes it to go rancid.
- During hot weather store flour in the refrigerator.
- Freezing flour for 48 hours before it is stored will kill any weevil or insect eggs already in the flour
- Do not mix old flour with new flour if you are not using the flour regularly.
- Do not store flour near medicine, soap powder, onions, garlic or other foods or products with strong order
- If possible store flour in the freezer in an airtight moisture proof container, label with date and type of flour. Stored this way most flour will last from a year to several years.
- Whole wheat flour should be kept in the refrigerator at all times
- Throw away flour if it smells bad, changes color or is invested with insects…weevils or insect eggs.
- A bay leaf in the flour canister to help protect against insect infections.
Shelf life: Rotate, Rotate, Rotate.....with any of your food storage you need to develop a program to rotate your supplies on a regular basis. First in first out.....in others words as you use your stored rice replace it with new rice. Label each container with product and storage date. With proper food storage techniques the shelf life of flour can be increased.
- If the original package has not been torn or damaged, it is fine for cabinet storage, but if you are storing for long-term then transfer into an airtight moisture proof container.
- Most types of flour will keep longer in a cool, dry, dark cabinet in an airtight moisture proof plastic or glass container. Avoid storing flour in extremely low or high humidity.
- Storage area is important like the refrigerator or freezer, but the use of a sealed container is even more important to prevent flour from absorbing moisture or odors or food flavors.
- If storing in the freezer for long-term storage, use sealed plastic containers or freezer bags
- Flour that does not look or smell good should not be used.
According to the University of Missouri Extension, all-purpose flour will last several years if stored in the freezer at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. So proper technique can increase the shelf life.
How much Flour do I need in storage? Around 25lbs will supply an adult for one year while a child will only need half that amount.
Tips & Warnings:
- Pour enough flour for several weeks of usage into an air-tight container and place in a cool dry dark pantry or refrigerator for daily use. And place the rest in air-tight containers (plastic bags or glass / plastic containers) and store in the freezer.
- Allow flour to reach room temperature, before you measure the flour for a recipe, so that it does not remain condensed.
- Always dispose of flour that has gone rancid….strange smell or color.
- “For every 10 degree F increase in temperature, the shelf life is reduced by almost 50 percent.” (Food Storage for the clueless, Clark L. and Kathryn H Kidd.)
- Tinny taste in flour – two methods I have come across to help with this taste: place your flour in a bowl and stir it around and then come back occasionally over the next few hours and stir more supposedly this re-oxygenating of the flour removes the tin smell. The other methods, cut a peeled raw potato in half, put it in the can with the flour and leave overnight in cool place. Toss the potato away in the morning. This will not work for rancid flour, but it will help with the tin taste if store in cans.
So the overall take on flour is to store only small amounts of actual flour purchased from a store and to get the longest shelf life store in the freezer. To be able to obtain a longer shelf life, check out your local
LDS Cannery and can your flour in #10 cans which could have a shelf life of 5 years or purchasing from a freeze-dried company like Thrive Life which also has a 5 year shelf life on their flour products. The other option is to store the grain and grind into flour as you need it…
With any food storage items if they are not kept in ideal storage conditions or if kept pass the recommend storage shelf life then consumption is at your own risk.