It’s not hard to determine if the flour has gone bad. In fact, you can do it by doing a simple smell test. If the flour smells musty, sour, or just plain bad, it’s time to throw it out. Like with anything else in your kitchen (and life), check the “best-before” label, but depending on how well it is stored, flour can last longer or less.
The factors below are also good indicators of if your flour is still good or not:
Unbleached flour may turn a greyish or tan colour. In contrast, bleached flour will start to lose its white sheen and also go tan. Usually, this happens if the flour is exposed to heat or light while it’s being stored.
As mentioned above, mould is a common problem in flour. White patches on the surface of your flour mean that it has been contaminated. This has happened because of too much moisture and exposure to bacteria. Throw it out immediately.
A foul smell to your flour indicates that it’s gone bad. This can happen if the container isn’t tightly sealed or if it has been stored in a hot, moist environment. This is common in whole wheat flour.
If you taste-test flour before using it, make sure to spit out whatever you put into your mouth! Flour is unlikely to taste bad if it has gone off, but it can make you sick if contaminated by other organisms.
Further reading: Is it safe to eat raw flour?
It’s easy to tell if your flour has gone rancid or not. Just take a handful of flour and squeeze it in your fist. If there is any moisture that comes out, you have a problem. Remove it from storage and use it immediately.
To keep flour fresh, store it in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. If storing flour for a long time, you can also use the freezer or vacuum-sealed bags to extend its life further. See how-to store flour short, mid, and long-term to learn more.
Unlike bread dough, chilling flour doesn’t extend its life. The deterioration of flour is due to oxidation, contamination or mould setting in. The fridge won’t extend the life of wheat flour, but you can use the refrigerator to store bread dough.
If your flour has gone bad, you might think of getting rid of it immediately. But you can still use them with a little bit of creativity. Try using expired flour for the following:
So, don’t throw your bad flour just yet. You can be resourceful, and it can still serve some purpose!
Further reading: Can you eat raw dough?
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baker, bread baking coach and college lecturer. I’m here to help you make better bread and learn about the baking industry.
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