We’re all guilty of letting flour sit in the cupboard for much longer than it should, sometimes a year or two after its best before date.
If you’ve overestimated the amount of time you have to make things from scratch, or you bought some flour on offer, or you simply forgot about the flour, and now you’re wondering what to do with it.
Maybe you’re not an all-purpose flour kind of person. Other types such as gluten-free flour, rye flour, or spelt flour are making a resurgence in popularity, but they also don’t last as long as all-purpose flour.
Some specialty flours will go off within a few months of opening, especially much fresher flour. That’s a lot of pressure when it comes to trying to use it, but can you freeze it?
The good news is that you can, and the results will vary depending on the type of flour you choose to freeze. But first, let’s talk about whether it makes sense to, or not.
The Shelf Life Of Flour
Depending on what type of flour you go for, some will last longer than others. All-purpose flour, for example, will last for 2 years without degrading if it’s still unopened.
Once opened, all-purpose flour will last a year, or just about.
If you prefer whole wheat or a different kind of flour, these will last much less, usually up to 6 months, but this depends on the type. You may not notice a decline in quality after that, but it does depend on what you’re using it for.
Flour which has a raising agent, for example, may not help baked goods rise such as scones (see also How To Freeze Scones) as well if it’s been open for a long time.
Flours which are significantly less processed also have more unsaturated oils, and this can contribute to the shorter shelf life.
When it comes to storing flour normally, it needs to be in a clean, airtight container, somewhere dark, dry, and cool.
While storing flour in the fridge is not recommended as it will make it damp and claggy, you can freeze it, where it will last up to a year.
This is especially useful if you just use specialty flours, as they can be quite expensive to begin with, and factoring in the relatively short shelf life, freezing it is a must.
How Do You Freeze Flour?
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to freeze flour that is still in date. There’s not much point in freezing flour that’s past its expiration date, as it won’t get any better once you thaw it, and it’ll likely be much worse.
Freezing flour is also a good way of ensuring that there’s nothing that shouldn’t be there. The freezing process should kill any bacteria or eggs that are present – though if you’re finding those, please bin it instead.
You can leave flour in the freezer for up to a year at a time, but it’s better to use it within six months of freezing for best results.
It will also prevent any bugs from making a nice home in your flour than if you kept it sitting in the cupboard for a year, but this will also largely be prevented by keeping it in an airtight container, somewhere dry and cool.
Preparing Flour For The Freezer
Don’t use the original packaging when it comes to putting flour into the freezer. In a lot of places, flour is packaged in paper bags, and you can imagine how badly that would end if you froze it as-is.
Even if it comes in a plastic bag, you’re better off transferring it into plastic freezer bags, or an airtight container. Seal it, and label it.
Because flour has an extremely low moisture content, the texture isn’t affected by the freezing process. This also means you don’t have to portion it out.
How To Defrost Frozen Flour
Simply remove from the freezer and leave on the counter to return to room temperature. Don’t skip this step, or it will drastically affect the results of your cooking or baking, and not in a good way.
You will also need to check that the flour hasn’t spoiled in the meantime. Once it’s gotten back up to temperature, if the texture, smell, or flavor is off, bin it.
Flour is extremely easy to freeze, making this a perfect option for long storage without having to worry about pests setting up home in your pantry, also helping to avoid food waste.