Raw ingredients like flour are useful for cooking and baking, and it’s always a good idea to have some around the house or in your long-term food storage.
The best way to properly store flour for long periods of time is in a cold, dark space with as little access to air or moisture as possible. Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers are best here. When you store flour in airtight containers, flour can last up to 25 years without spoiling.
We’ve reviewed the best ways to store flour properly, and how well you can expect each method of food storage to perform. We’ll also look at what kinds of things you should look to prevent when storing flour properly.
How to Store Flour Long-Term
Use the Original Packaging Whenever Possible
Flour will last for up to six months in its original packaging at room temperature. However, these packages are usually just a simple paper bag, and are not able to completely keep air or moisture out for longer periods of food storage.
That being said, unopened containers do have a better chance at keeping flour fresh over a longer shelf life if they are combined with one of the other methods for storing flour described below.
A Better Bet? Airtight Containers
Airtight containers generally help keep most foods better for longer. By simply swapping out the manufacturer packaging with an air tight container like, you can extend flour’s shelf life for up to a total of 10-12 months.
Mason jars or vacuum sealed containers are good options for storing flour.
Keep Your Flour in the Refrigerator
Another easy trick to store flour long term is by keeping it in the freezer. Colder temperatures are better for flour storage anyway; plus the cooler temperatures will keep insects and other pests from feeding on your flour.
However, in most cases this may only buy you a few extra months of shelf life.
Store Flour in the Freezer
As with some other foods, freezing flour is the ideal way to keep it usable for a near indefinite amount of time. When kept in freezer storage in an airtight container, frozen flour will not spoil.
However, keep in mind that you’ll need to restore it to room temperature properly before using it from food storage in the freezer to avoid any excess moisture.
Store Flour Using a Vacuum Sealer
If you’re able to get your hands on a vacuum sealer, this will provide the best protection for storing flour. Removing as much air as possible from the container by vacuum sealing flour will keep it fresh in food storage for up to 2 years.
It’s important to remember that no container will remain perfectly airtight forever, but it will do a better job than most other methods.
Store Flour By Using Containers with Oxygen Absorbers
If you can’t access a vacuum sealer, getting oxygen absorbers will actually work even better to store flour long-term.
These tiny tablets will absorb oxygen over time, and when used with food-grade buckets or other containers you can store flour long term for a shelf life of up to 5 years.
The Best Option: Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers
The best overall option for long-term flour storage is with a Mylar bag. These bags are made from a metallic material which is impervious to air and moisture.
If you seal your flour in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber, your flour can last between 10 to 15 years in food storage.
Can I Can My Flour?
Some have opted for the dry canning method to store flour over long periods of time in mason jars, like other foods. The thought behind dry canning is that heating food in an oven will help to sterilize it (killing off any bacteria) and creating a heat seal on the container.
An alternative to this flour storage method would be water bath canning, which is done by submerging a similarly sealed container into a hot water bath.
This method is not recommended for flour storage, however. Moisture could easily be trapped in the jar and cause additional problems, or the extreme temperatures could cause the glass to explode.
Furthermore, if there is any moisture in the flour you could run the risk of botulism poisoning.
Buying Flour That Is Already Canned
Bulk flour that comes already canned from the manufacturer has been treated to create an extended shelf life.
If left unopened in its original sealed packaging, and kept in the proper conditions, canned flour storage can last up to 25 years.
Ways Flour Can Go Bad
If left unchecked, a number of conditions could cause your flour to go bad. Let’s look at the most common ones.
Oxidation is the process by which oxygen interacts with the nutrients in foods and breaks them down. This can even affect flours, especially whole wheat flour that contains more natural oils than processed white flour.
Any excess moisture that gets into your flour (even through humidity or fluctuations in temperature) could lead to mold, which will spoil your flour.
Insects like weevils or moths can easily make it into unsealed storage containers, and even lay eggs. Even if you have airtight containers or food-grade buckets that keep insects out during food storage, there may already be insects living in your flour in the first place.
Flour also has a tendency to inherit the smells of other things stored nearby, especially if they naturally emit noxious odors themselves. This can apply to exposed fruits and vegetables, or chemicals and cleaning products.
While this may not affect the nutritional quality or how edible it is, the smell can translate into whatever you use the flour to make.
Will These Methods Work for Any Kind of Flour?
There are many different kinds of flour, like whole grain flour, cake flour, bread flour, self rising flour, coconut flour, rice flour, and gluten free flour.
With some minor exceptions, you can store flour for the long haul with any of these kinds of flour and more.
What to Consider When Storing Flour Long-Term
Colder Is Better
It’s always best to store bulk flour in colder temperatures to keep your flour fresh. This can prevent moisture from spreading, as well as keep dormant any pests that might get into it.
There are also natural oils in flour that can go bad, even if stored at room temperature. Colder temperatures are generally better for this reason as well.
Can I Use My Flour Straight from the Refrigerator or Freezer?
You can keep flour at colder temperatures by storing it in the refrigerator or freezer, but it’s not recommended to use it straight from cold food storage because it won’t rise the same way.
It’s best to only defrost or thaw the amount of cold flour that you’re going to use, rather than unpacking and repacking your entire bulk stock. Thawing and refreezing any food will spoil it if done too often or improperly.
What If My Flour Gets Damp in the Refrigerator or Freezer?
If your flour does get damp from storage in the refrigerator or freezer (or for any other reason), you can safely dry it out for immediate use.
Simply spread out your moist flour on a baking sheet and heat it in the oven at a low temperature (around 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius). This will bake off any excess moisture and leave you with flour that is ready to use.
Darker Is Better
A dark space is also better for storing flour long-term. Light will encourage oxidation, which we’ve seen is an enemy of long-term flour storage.
Keeping things in a refrigerator or freezer will shut out any light, but you should also think about any shelf storage you have and consider storage containers besides clear glass jars that will keep light out.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker