How do you store flour for years?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “How do you store for years?”, mention the shelf lives of different types of flour, and mention how to tell when flour has gone bad.

How do you store flour for years?

In order to store flour for years, you need to keep it away from light, moisture, oxygen and air. Light generates heat which can lead to oxidation of fats present in the flour. This is especially true for whole wheat flour.

Similarly moisture and oxygen can also lead to breakdown and oxidation of nutrients present in the flour. The flour will last in the refrigerator also but will not be as long as it would last in the freezer.

In order to store it in the freezer, follow the following steps:

  • Once opened, place the flour in a vacuum sealed bag and then place it in the freezer.
  • You can also put it in an airtight jar but remember to seal the lid tightly so that air does not enter the container at all.
  • A great option to store flour for upto 10 years is to place it in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers. 

Mylar bags are great for food storage. They can also be used to store other perishable items to increase their shelf lives. 

When unopened, flour can be kept in the pantry but in a cool, dry and dark place. Consider using an opaque container to prevent light from reaching the flour.

What are the shelf lives of different types of flour?

There are many different kinds of flour available in the market. They differ in not only taste, but also  in their nutrients and how processed they are. Although flour is generally a shelf stable product, it can go bad.

A general point to bear in mind is that the fats present in the wheat oxidize when they come in contact with air causing the flour to spoil. Which is why refined and highly processed flour like all purpose flour has the maximum shelf life as it has very little amount of fat.

Another study showed that it is the protein known as gluten present in flour that causes the flour to go bad.

So basically, the lesser the amount of nutrients present in flour, the longer will be its shelf life.

Let’s have a look at the shelf lives of different types of flours based on how they are stored.

Flour In the pantryIn the refrigerator/freezer
All purpose flour1 year2 years
Self rising flour4-6 months1 year
Whole wheat flour1-3 months6 months – 1 year
Oat flour3 months6 months
Bread flour6 months 1 year
Gluten free flour3 months6 months – 1 year

To find out more about spoiled flour, visit here.

How to tell if the flour has gone bad?

You can tell if the flour has gone bad by the kind of smell it gives off. Fresh flour has a nutty aroma while flour that has gone bad will give off a rancid and musty odor. Flour contains a lot of fats which are bound to lose their texture and go rancid over time.

Another way to tell if the flour has gone bad is by the presence of little bugs in it called weevils. These bugs may not be visible on the surface since they like to dig holes deep inside the flour and live there.

So you have to move the flour around to see if there are any bugs.  They lay eggs, the eggs hatch, eat the flour, and the cycle continues.

These bugs are not harmful when consumed but of course, no one likes to have bugs in their food! If you wish, you can sift out the flour to separate them but then again, if the thought of bugs in food grosses you out, just toss the flour in the trash can.

You can also tell if the flour has gone bad if the food you make using that flour tastes off or sour. Also, if you use this flour for baking purposes, it may not rise as high as fresh flour would.

Look for any color changes in the flour as well. A bluish-green color may indicate growth of mold and a yellowish discoloration may mean that the oil has leaked out from the wheat grains.

Additionally, you should also keep an eye on its expiry date as it will give you an idea about the time the flour may start to go bad.

Other FAQs about Flour that you may be interested in.

What is a substitution for sweet rice flour?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How do you store for years?”, mentioned the shelf lives of different types of flour, and mentioned how to tell when flour has gone bad.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.