Even though flour is designed to last for a long time, it will go bad at some point or another.
For this reason, it is a good idea to make sure that you are aware of the signs that your flour has gone past its expiration date, so that you can ensure that the flour is safe to use.
The main signs that a batch of flour has gone bad is if it has an unpleasant smell, there are visible signs of mold or brown spots on the flour as well as if it has passed its expiration date.
In this article, we are going to be taking a closer look at what the telltale signs of expired flour are.
Plus, to make sure that you are able to get the very most out of your flour (as well as ensuring you are getting the best value for your money) we are also going to be taking a closer look at some of the best ways that you can help to extend the shelf life of your flour.
So, whenever you’re ready – just read on!
What Are The Signs That Flour Has Gone Bad?
1. Unpleasant Smell
By far, one of the biggest signs that flour has gone off is if there is an unpleasant smell coming from the flour.
Generally speaking, flour will typically have either a neutral or entirely plain smell, depending on the flour it is that you are using.
For example, plain white flour will typically have no smell at all when it is fresh/within its expiry date, wheat flour will often have a slightly musty and sweet smell due to the wheat used to make the flour, while nut flour will often have a subtle scent similar to wheat.
In order to spot whether or not your flour is safe to use (and you’re not going off the expiration date) then you will need to make sure that you are smelling your flour before each and every use.
If you can tell that the flour you are using has an unpleasant smell, or a smell that it has not smelt like in the past – then this is a surefire sign that your flour has gone bad and you need to swap it out with a new batch from the grocery store.
Along with this, we also strongly recommend that you make sure to smell your flour regularly even when it is within the expiration window – as this will help you to get a feel for the “normal” scent of the flour, and it will make it easier to detect any changes to the flour once it starts to go bad.
2. Visible Signs Of Decay
Along with your flour having an unpleasant smell, another telltale giveaway that your flour has gone bad is if you can see any visible signs of decay within the flour.
Generally speaking, fresh flour (or flour that has not yet reached its expiration date) will often tend to be very fine and smooth in appearance with one uniform color.
When flour starts to turn sour and go off, many different signs of deterioration can begin to show – including the following:
- Changes to the color of the flour
- Brown spots
If you can see any of these signs within your flour when you inspect it prior to use, then these are surefire indications that your flour has gone bad, and you should – in turn, throw the flour away and use a new batch instead.
3. It Has Passed The Expiration Date
Last but certainly not least, the final sign that your flour has gone bad is if you can see that the flour has passed its expiration date.
Just like with other types of food you can buy at the grocery store or elsewhere, there will always be an expiration date or a “best before” date labeled somewhere on the packaging that it has come in.
If you can see that the flour you are using has passed its expiration date, then this is a strong indication that it is most likely not going to be suitable for you to use, as it has passed the timeframe deemed safe for cooking/baking purposes.
How To Extend The Shelf Life Of Your Flour
Even though your flour will be unfit for use after a certain amount of time has passed, the good news is that there are some steps that you can take to help lengthen the shelf life of your flour!
Below, let’s take a look at some steps that you can try to extend the life of your flour, while also preserving the freshness and baking quality:
1. Store In A Cool, Dark Place
One of the best ways that you can help to preserve the life of your flour is to make sure that you are storing your flour in a cool and dark place that is out of the line of any direct sunlight.
When kept in direct sunlight, the heat can actually have the potential to change the molecular constructions of your flour, and this could lead to it spoiling and being unable for you to bake with.
2. Following Manufacturer’s Instructions
In addition to making sure that you are storing your flour in a cool and dark place- we also recommend that you make sure to follow any specific instructions provided to you on the packaging by the manufacturer.
If there are any specific instructions listed on the packaging, then we recommend following them as they are specific to your brand and type of flour.
3. Make Sure You Are Sealing The Lid/Packaging Tightly After Each Use
Last but not least, another way that you can help to extend the shelf life of your flour is to make sure that you are sealing the remaining flour properly after each and every use.
If you don’t make sure that you are correctly sealing the flour after you have used the portion that you need, then the air that gets to the flour might cause the leftover flour to begin to sour and be unfit for use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens If You Use Expired Flour?
Whether busy life has gotten in the way of visiting the grocery store or you’ve want to whip some baked goods up in the kitchen and have noticed that your flour is a few days past its expiry date – many people often wonder whether or not it’s okay to cook with flour (as well as other foods) that have past the expiration date.
Generally speaking, even though it is not typically advised for anyone to use any type of food that has passed its expiry date (regardless of whether it’s flour or another type of food) you’re most likely not going to experience any overly negative effects from cooking with flour that has gone out of date.
In addition to this, it also worth noting that there are some people that find that using flour that is a few days out of its expiration window works just as well, although do keep in mind that you should always try and make sure that you are cooking with flour that has not gone out of date for the best taste and eating experience.
Top tip: If you want to make sure that your flour is able to offer you a longer shelf life, then we recommend that you make sure that you are storing it in a cool and dry place that is out of the line of any direct sunlight.
Along with this, we also strongly recommend that you opt to purchase white flour, as white flour is known to offer the longest shelf life of all types of flour currently available out there to buy on the market.
Does Flour Get Spoiled?
Just like with all other types of foods, at some point or another your flour is going to become spoiled – and you will be unable to use it for cooking purposes.
However, even though your flour will ultimately spoil at some point or another, it is worth noting that flour tends to offer a far longer shelf life than other types of food, so it can be hard to understand when flour has gone bad.
As a general rule of thumb, flour will come with an expiration date that will be printed somewhere on the packaging or box that it has come inside upon purchasing.
You will be able to use this expiration date as a general guideline for how long you will be able to use your flour before it goes out of date – or turns sour.
However, it is also worth noting that many people do find that flour can be used after it has passed its expiration date, especially given the fact that it does not typically contain any ingredients that can sour or “go off” quickly.
With that being said, if you are planning to keep your flour for longer than its expiration date (which is usually 12 months or even longer) then it is important to keep in mind that the smell of the flour is always a telltale sign of whether or not it has become sour.
For the most part, all flour should contain a neutral fragrance or not smell at all, although wheat flour can sometimes have a subtle scent of wheat.
If you smell your flour and it has an unpleasant scent to it, then this is a surefire sign that the flour has spoiled and you should not use it.
Along with this, if you can visibly see that the flour you are thinking of using contains any visible signs of deterioration (such as mold or a change in appearance in some way) then this is also a sign that you should note use your flour, and instead swap it out for a new batch that you can use to cook and bake with instead.
Can You Use Flour That Is 2 Years Out Of Date?
Even though flour is known to offer a longer shelf life than other types of foods and cooking ingredients, it is important to remember that – at some point or another, the flour is going to reach its expiration date, and you should try and refrain from using it at this point.
In fact, after a certain amount of time, the molecular structure of the flour can actually be altered, and this can not only affect the flavor, quality and texture of the flour that you are using, but it can also potentially release unwanted compounds that could lead to food poisoning and other effects if eaten.
Along with all of this, it is also important to remember that standard flour will typically offer you a shelf life of around 6-12 months after it has been opened up, so two years is likely going to mean that the flour is not suitable to be used for baking/cooking purposes.
Due to this, for the best results when using flour, we strongly recommend that you make sure you are using flour that has still not yet reached its expiration date.
However, along with this, to make sure that you are using flour that has not gone off,we also recommend that you make sure to smell the flour before each use.
If you notice that the flour has a strong or unpleasant smell, then this is a key indication that the flour is not suitable for use, as flour will typically have either a neutral smell, or no smell at all.
- Airtight container
- Store flour in a sealable container: One of the best ways to extend the shelf life of flour is by removing it from its packaging and pouring it into a sealable, airtight container. Make sure that the lid is firmly closed.
- Check the expiry date: While flour can last for some time, you need to be aware of the flour's expiry date. Different types of flour have different expiry times.
- Store flour in a dark, cool place: Flour needs to be stored in a cool place without moisture. A pantry or dark cupboard are ideal.
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