Step One: Remove your flour from the paper bag it comes in.

By David McCann
Updated August 26, 2020
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For many of us, wheat flour forms the foundation for a great deal of the food we cook and consume. But how much do we actually know about it?

The Basics

At its most basic, flour is made by grinding wheat berries. The three parts of the wheat berry are the endosperm, the bran, and the germ. White flour includes just the endosperm, while whole-wheat flour includes the other two parts as well. There are many other varieties of wheat-based flour, but those are the most basic.

Because white flour contains less fat, it can generally last the longest. Whole-wheat contains about twice as much fat as white, and can therefore go rancid easily.

How to Store Flour

The easiest way to store all-purpose flour is to remove it from the paper bag it comes in, and place the flour in an airtight container made, ideally, of plastic or glass. Even a plastic zip-top bag works. The reason to remove it from the original paper is because moisture is flour’s great enemy. And paper will attract moisture from the air. Meanwhile, a plastic or glass container can help protect the flour from moisture.

In an ideal world, you should buy only the flour that you need and plan to use it up relatively quickly. But none of us live in an ideal world, especially these days. When a trip to the grocery store is as fraught as it is today, you might want to buy more than you need to prevent more trips. And if this is the case, you should consider keeping the flour in your refrigerator, again in an airtight container.

When it comes to whole-wheat, I urge you to buy small amounts, transfer the flour to airtight containers, and ALWAYS store them in the fridge. And if you use flour very infrequently, keep in mind that your white flour can last up to two years.

So, the moral of the story is: Try to avoid buying excessively more flour than you need. What flour you do buy, remove it from the paper bag and transfer to a plastic or glass airtight container. Keep that container in the fridge or the freezer if possible.

If the fridge is not possible, assume your white all-purpose flour will last 6-9 months. When it comes to keeping whole wheat flour on the counter… just don’t. It will turn rancid very quickly.

As we all seem to be baking more these days, learning how to keep your flour(s) fresh is a great bit of knowledge to have.