Shelf Life of

How Long Does Flour Last?

How Long Does Flour Last?

Shelf Life of Flour

How long does flour last?
Does flour go bad? The shelf life of flour depends on the best before date and how it is stored. Flour is a powder made by grinding cereal grains, seeds or roots. Many types exist on the grocers shelves some of which are corn (maize), rice, wheat, whole-wheat, potato, then there is cake, bread, and self-rising flour. It is the main ingredient for breads and tortillas and most other baked goods like cakes and cookies. So, how long does flour last? When properly stored, the shelf life of flour beyond its best by date is …

(Opened/Unopened) Pantry
Past Printed Date
Flour lasts for 6-8 Months
Rice Flour lasts for 6-8 Months
Corn meal Flour lasts for 6-8 Months
Potato Flour lasts for 6-8 Months
Whole Wheat Flour lasts for 4-6 Months
Self-rising Flour lasts for 4-6 Months
Corn Meal  lasts for 9-12 Months

But remember, flour, like a lot of other baking products, usually has a best before date and not a use by date or expiration date. Because of this distinction, you may safely use it for your baking needs after the best before date has lapsed.

How to tell if flour is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety discipline will help prevent food borne illness. It is easiest to tell if whole wheat flour has gone bad because it will develop a rancid smell. Since whole wheat flour is made using the entire grain, it retains some essential oils from the grain and these will degrade over time and develop a rancid smell.
The most common reason that flour spoils is if weevils (teeny, tiny bugs) inhabit and then lay eggs in the bag. Some say you can freeze the bag for 48 hours to kill the weavils, but it is safer to take the flour bag straight outside to the the trash. You should then sanitize the entire pantry because chances are the weevils traveled to or from something else in the pantry.
If your flour has gone bad, check our substitution page for an alternate substance.

How to store flour to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the expiration date of food. The best way to store flour is in its original container in the pantry, but also inside of a plastic bag or airtight container. All varieties last for a longer period of time if they are stored in a cool, dry environment. It should also be kept in a vapor proof container because the powder easily absorbs nearby odors and chemicals from anything around. When the bag is opened, it can be poured into another air tight container. Or, the original bag can be placed inside of a plastic bag for extra protection.
The shelf life of whole grain flour can be extended by several months by storing it in the fridge or freezer, but this is not recommended for white flour as the expiration depends upon it remaining completely dry.

Interesting Facts about Flour:

  • One five pound bag of flour equals about 17 & 1/2 cups.
  • Self-rising is just regular flour with the addition of baking powder and salt. Recipes may rise more evenly because these leavening agents were evenly distributed in the bag. Self-rising flour will have an earlier best before date due to the addition of baking powder which has a shorter shelf life.

How long is flour good for when prepared in a dish?

That depends. How long do eggs last? In general, it will be one of the last expiring ingredients in most recipes but it expires along with the fastest expiring ingredient in the dish. To find out how long other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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What are our shelf life resources?

Our research into the how long does flour last question incorporates findings from multiple resources, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scoured the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and shelf life.

*An important note about expiration dates …

Although the flour shelf life information on Eat By Date is generally reliable, please remember that environments vary and thus individual cases will vary so our advice should only be taken as an opinion and guide to the shelf life of foods. So, please eat responsibly!