We've shown you before how to store cupcakes correctly, as well as shared some brilliant KonMari organisation skills to help inspire your methods of kitchen storage from top to bottom. But now it's time to talk about how to store flour correctly.
Many of us think that flour is a long-life staple ingredient that can stay stashed at the back of our shelves for years and still be fine to use, even if it hasn't seen the sun since the 2012 London Olympics. While you're right that you can store flour long term, it's important to do it properly to avoid ruining your cakes and even potentially making yourself unwell.
What are the secrets for how to store flour for long term storage, you ask? Read on...
How to store flour correctly
For lighter coloured flours, also called 'refined flours', there's an important process to follow if you know you want to store them for a long time. First, you need to know exactly which flours we're talking about.
1. What is refined flour?
These types of flour are called 'refined' because they have been modified from their original structure. Oh yes, we're going full baking science on you here! Refined grains have had the bran and germ (the reproductive centre of a grain) removed. Some flours are then refined further by adding some nutrients such as iron and riboflavin, as well as bleaching to whiten the flour.
While many types of refined flour have some nutrients replaced after the original ones are removed, it's only a fraction of the original amount. This is why wholegrain flours are a healthier, more nutritious alternative to white flour. More on that below...
2. What types of flour are refined?
Refined flours include:
- Plain flour
- Self-raising flour
- Bread flour
- White flour
- Cake flour
If you're ever unsure, always read the label on your flour to make sure you know exactly what is contained in your flour and whether or not it's refined.
3. How to store refined flour
There may be weevils or insect eggs present in your flour. Your first step when storing flour is to place it in the freezer for at least 48 hours to kill any unwanted stowaways.
Once you have waited the correct amount of time, transfer your flour into a plastic or glass foodsafe container with an airtight lid. This second step is important for two reasons: preventing your flour from absorbing any moisture, odours and flavours from nearby food and drinks, as well as keeping away any insects that want to get cosy in your freshly cleared flour.
Now you can store the flour away from sunlight in a cool and dry place for up to a year and still be perfectly usable. If you want it to last even longer or you don't have a suitable storage place, you can keep your flour in the freezer for up to two years. We would recommend using it within a year though.
Top Tip: If you're using frozen flour in baking, allow the flour to come to room temperature before use.
Wholegrains and other specialty flours are also known as unrefined flours and need a slightly different method that refined flours for long term storage.
1. What is unrefined flour?
Unrefined flour is, surprise surprise, a type of flour that hasn't been modified from its original state. This type of flour contains grains or wheat that still has its three key natural elements: the bran, the germ and the endosperm (this carries carbohydrates and protein).
Because unrefined flour hasn't had any nutrients removed, it's considered much healthier and more nutritious for consumption than refined flour.
2. What types of flour are unrefined?
Unrefined flours include:
- Nut (e.g. almond, coconut, etc.)
If you're ever unsure, always read the label on your flour to make sure you know if anything has been removed or added.
3. How to store unrefined flour
As with refined flour, freeze it for at least 48 hours before transferring it to an air-tight container.
You can now store your flour in the fridge for up to six months or in the freezer for up to a year. As unrefined flour has had none of its natural elements removed, there is a large amount of natural oil in the flour which makes it go off quicker than refined flour.
General advice on how to store flour
Always label your flour before putting it away in storage so you know:
- What type of flour is in the container
- When it was prepared and put into storage
If you're worried that your flour may have gone rancid or moldy, the smell is generally the best way to tell. If it smells dusty, musty, damp or sour, then it needs to go and isn't safe to use.
Finally, don't mix an old batch of flour with a new one for storage, you'll simply shorten the shelf life of the newly prepared flour.
Now you know how to store flour long term properly, we bet you won't be simply wrapping up the top of your bags of flour and shoving them into the cupboard again!