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Shelf life of Wheat Flour: How to Store Wheat Flour Long-Term
Wheat flour is a common ingredient used to make all sorts of food items at home. So, it is an essential part of any pantry. Whether you are simply looking to store flour long-term, or protect against rising food costs, by storing flour properly, you can keep your flour fresh for up to 30 years.
When storing flour long-term, there are 4 popular storage methods: Mason jars, Mylar bags, and Food-Grade Plastic Buckets. The shelf life of wheat flour by each storage method is:
- Food-Grade Buckets: 20-30 years
- Mylar Bag: 10-15 years
- Mason Jar: 2 years
- Freezer: 1-2 years
However, the shelf life is not guaranteed simply by placing flour in the storage container. You’ll have to properly protect your wheat flour from environmental aggressors like air, heat, light, and pests.
In this article, we will discuss the different ways to store wheat flour long term. But first, what is wheat flour?
What Is Wheat Flour?
Wheat flour is the magical ingredient all bakers need to make bread, cookies, cakes, and other pastries come to life. Such a useful powder comes from grinding whole wheat kernels and separating its three parts; bran, germ, and endosperm.
After separating the three parts of a wheat kernel, you can recombine them to produce different types of flour. For instance, you get whole wheat flour from all three parts, while grinding the endosperm creates white flour.
What gives baked goods their structure is wheat’s protein called gluten. The reason why bakers knead dough is to activate the gluten until it develops its elasticity.
Since not all baked products need a lot of gluten, you have a variety of wheat flour to choose from, depending on what you want to make. These are some of the different types of wheat flour and what you can bake with them:
- All-purpose flour: cakes, bread, cookies, pastries, etc.
- Whole wheat flour: bread, tortillas, and crackers
- Bread flour: bread, rolls, and pizza dough
- Gluten flour: bagels, artisan bread, pretzels, and pizza crust
- Self-rising flour: scones, cakes, biscuits, and pancakes
The gluten content of the wheat flour determines the outcome of the baked goods. Lower gluten means soft, while higher gluten means hard.
Pro Tip: We always recommend grinding your own flour from wheat berries or kernels. Fresh flour is far more nutritious and richer in flavor than store-bought flour.
Step by Step: How to Store Wheat Flour Long Term
Wheat flour is a staple pantry ingredient for bakers and non-bakers alike. While it’s necessary to almost always have some in stock, what matters more is how you store it so you can prolong its shelf life.
You can expect regular store-bought wheat flour to last for around 3 to 8 months. However, it’s best not to leave them in their original bag if you want to keep them around for much longer.
If you don’t transfer wheat flour to an airtight container and store them properly, it’ll end up stale and attract unwanted pests.
Despite the different types of flour, flour storage is not complicated. Here are some recommended steps to keep your wheat flour fresh.
Storage Method 1: Food-Grade Plastic Buckets
Storing wheat flour in bulk is definitely possible under the right conditions. One of the best ways of doing so is by using food-grade buckets. It may sound like too much wheat flour, but it helps if you’re stocking up on food supply or in case of emergencies. This is because food-grade buckets are effective in reducing exposure to air, heat, light, and pests.
If you follow the below conditions, you can keep your wheat flour safe for 20 to 30 years.
Here’s how you can store wheat flour for long-term use in food-grade 5-gallon buckets:
- Get a 5-gallon food-grade bucket.
- Wash the bucket with water and liquid antibacterial soap.
- Let the bucket dry before using.
- Line the bucket with a mylar bag
- Fill up the mylar bags to 80% with wheat flour
- Remove as much of the air possible from the bag, and place oxygen absorbers in the mylar bag
- Use an iron or hair straightener to seal the mylar bags with oxygen absorbers
- Seal the 5-gallon bucket
- Place the bucket in a storage room with a temperature of 40 to 70°F.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of how to store food in 5-gallon buckets, we wrote an in-depth article on the step-by-step process. And if you would like a list of supplies you will need to store flour long-term, we consolidated a list of the essentials for DIY long-term storage.
Storage Method 2: Mylar Bags
Using mylar bags is another effective way to store wheat flour long-term. It is made from a metal-like material that limits exposure to heat, light, and oxygen.
But, one of the main downsides of this storage method is that rodents are known to bite through mylar bags. So, we suggest keeping mylar bags in a hard-to-access place like a high shelf or freezer.
When used properly, mylar bags can preserve your wheat flour for up to 15 years.
To store wheat flour in mylar bags:
- Prepare your one-gallon mylar bags.
- Fill each bag with five pounds of wheat flour.
- You can use one 500 cc oxygen absorber per mylar bag to remove any excess oxygen.
- Seal the mylar bags with oxygen absorbers using an iron or hair straightener.
- Make sure that the bags don’t sit directly on the floor. You can place them on top of your shelves or freezer if you’re not going to use buckets.
- Store the bags in a room with a temperature of 40 to 70°F and away from light.
Pro Tip: Using oxygen absorbers not only extends the shelf life of flour but it also kills insect eggs that may still be in the original packaging. So by including oxygen absorbers, it reduces the risk of rancid flour.
For more details on how to store food in mylar bags, consider reading our step-by-step post on the topic.
Storage Method 3: Mason Jars
A simple and neat way of storing wheat flour in your kitchen is by using mason jars. This method works best for those who want easy access to fairly long-lasting wheat flour. And since they are made of glass, they can protect your flour from pests and oxygen exposure.
Mason jars are also not too expensive, and you can get them in various designs to stylize your kitchen a little. Although effective, these containers are fragile and can break easily on impact.
Your wheat flour will stay fresh in these jars for up to 10 months under the right conditions. And these airtight containers can keep flour fresh for up to 2 years if stored with oxygen absorbers.
To get started, just follow these steps:
- Prepare your mason jar by washing it with water and liquid antibacterial soap.
- Let the jar dry before using.
- Fill the jar with wheat flour, depending on how big it is. A gallon of mason jar can hold five pounds of wheat flour.
- Add one 500 cc oxygen absorber to the jar.
- Room temperature works fine with mason jars, but it would be better if you store it at 40 to 70°F.
For a step-by-step guide on how to store food in mason jars, consider reading our post on the subject.
Shelf Life of Wheat Flour
The shelf life of wheat flour ranges between 3 to 8 months. However, if you transfer wheat flour to a proper container and under the right conditions, it can last for years or decades.
Take note that it also matters where you store flour once you’ve transferred them in bags or containers. For instance, exposure to environmental aggressors like oxygen, heat, light, and pests can significantly reduce the shelf life of flour.
We have covered the shelf life of wheat flour above, but here is an easy-to-follow table.
|Storage Method||Shelf Life (Years)|
|Food Grade Bucket||20-30|
Knowing these simple food storage techniques on how to store wheat flour is important whether you’re a baker or not. By learning to store flour properly, you can easily access fresh flour now, in 2 years, or in 30 years.
To ensure you can maximize the shelf life of flour, it is important to reduce exposure to environmental aggressors such as heat, light, air, and pests. By using the proper storage containers and methods, you can protect your flour so it can reach its max shelf life.
Storing flour long term can also help save money during rising food prices, as well as be prepared for an emergency.
Let us know if you found this article helpful by sharing it with people who would enjoy the read. Also, feel free to reach out to us if you have any specific questions.
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