Contrary to popular belief, flour doesn't last as long as many people keep it! Nature has carefully wrapped all the goodness of the seed in a protective and long lasting storage container that the milling process effectively breaks open. As a result, from a nutritional point of view, the sooner you use the flour the better.
In fact the shelf life of wholemeal flour can be as little as 6 months. White flours are typically 12 months. The length varies according to the type of grain, the type of flour and the amount of wheatgerm or oils present. In addition, the storage conditions are important too.
White flour has a shelf life from milling of 12 months as the oils are taken out with the wheatgerm and bran during the milling process which is what produces the whiter colour.
Wholemeal flour will be good for 6 months because of the higher oil content in the wheat germ, more of which is left in for its goodness and to give the flour texture and flavour. Beyond six months it will start to deteriorate and eventually go rancid in the same way that nuts do.
We only mill in small quantities at a time and have a high turnover rate so you will have plenty of time left on the expiry date when the flour reaches you.
Ideally flour should be kept in a cool dry place, preferably in a stable temperature and in a sealed container. You can even refrigerate or freeze the flour for longer life which will have no effect on the performance or flavour properties.
Just remember though, if you’re using the flour to make bread, make sure you bring it back up to room temperature or warmer before you start to mix your dough as bread likes everything nice and warm in order to get the fermentation process going. On the other hand if you’re using it for pastry, you can use it straight from the freezer because pastry is the opposite and likes everything well chilled.
The container is as much about preventing insects and spores contaminating the flour as it is about limiting the amount of oxygen that can rapidly cause oxidation of the oils in flours, particularly wholemeal. This will turn the flour rancid quite quickly. Preferably the container should not be plastic unless you are using bags and freezing the flour.
We advise against tightly sealed plastic containers as they prevent the flour from breathing and can cause the flour to “sweat” which will reduce its life and quality (although bizarrely it seems to be fine when stored in Kilner jars or an earthenware crock).
The best thing to do (unless freezing) is to leave it in the bag or sack it comes in and place inside a large crock or clean metal dustbin.
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We are beyond excited to announce the launch our first cookbook with Headline Publishing.
“A Handful Of Flour” explores a myriad of flours and their different flavours, in a selection of well-worked classic recipes with a fresh and contemporary twist.
More than just a baking book, this is a book to introduce you to cooking with flour in general, from popular and classic varieties to ancient grains and gluten free flours.