Foods That Can Be Frozen
Shelf Foods that Store Even Better in the Freezer
Most of us keep the following items in the pantry where they keep just fine on the shelf for defined periods of time (see the additional information section below for help with the times). Storage on the shelf makes sense, we buy them on the shelf and then we store them on the shelf. For bakers, it doesn’t really make sense to take up limited freezer space with items that are constantly being reached for and therefore constantly being replenished. But, what about people who seldom use these products? If you are buying any of these items in bulk and then using them sparsely, it makes sense to store them where they will enjoy the longest shelf life possible.
The packaging on most items on this list of better off frozen items is often paper or thin cellophane. This means that if the freezer is chosen as the storage place for any of the following items, they need to be placed into a freezer storage plastic bag or alternate freezer safe container. If a paper bag of flour is placed into the freezer, the added moisture would create problems.
The following list of items are a few that may look strange in the freezer, but in fact can appreciate a much longer shelf life if they are stored in the freezer. As mentioned above, the main ingredient determining the placement of these foods into the freezer is the amount of fat content contained in the product.
Whereas white flour will do well in the pantry for a few years, whole wheat flour contains a small percentage of oil (about 2%) which is why whole wheat flour begins to smell and taste “off” long before white flour. Most of the newer flours on the grocery shelves, including all of the newer nut flours and seed flours, will also begin to show signs of age before basic white flour does. White flour should last indefinitely in the freezer and whole wheat flour will extend its lifespan from months on the shelf to at least a year when frozen.
Baking with flours that are starting to go bad will result in foods that have a funky taste that one might not be able to describe, but you know you just don’t like. Keeping these flours in the freezer can prevent this from happening.
Important NOTE for frozen flour:
When using flour that has been stored in the freezer (this also pertains to flour stored in the refrigerator) be sure to allow it to come to room temperature before using. To do this, spread it on a baking sheet and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes. If it is not allowed to reach temperature before baking, then the baked goods will not rise properly resulting in a denser end product.
We recommend keeping nuts in the refrigerator for ideal usage, but in fact they will last even longer in the freezer (if there’s room for them there). Some nuts may begin to smell in the pantry a month or so after opening, whereas most frozen nuts will remain fine for 2 or even 3 years. The benefit that the freezer can provide is directly related to the fat content in the nut. Macadamia nuts, for instance, are about 80% fat which makes them perfect candidates for storage in the freezer. Shelf life, even in the freezer, also depends upon the fat content of the nut. Pistachio nuts, which contain about half the fat content of macadamias, will enjoy the longest freezer life if they are frozen in their shells.
Seeds will last for months in the pantry, but freeze them and they’re sure to last for at least a year. Again, make sure they are placed into freezer safe air tight containers before freezing. Seeds with a higher fat content, such as flax, will receive a greater advantage from the freezer than a lower fat content seed such as chia.
Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, barley, popcorn and oats all contain some natural oils. Whole grains still have their protective layer in tact, so are not as susceptible to oxidation as when they are broken up into flours or meals. But they still can, and do, become rancid over a longer period of time. Fresh grains should not smell, but they will begin to smell rancid eventually. Properly freezing whole grains will keep them around for about twice as long as placing them on a shelf in the pantry.
All the above foods are shelf stable, but they will enjoy a longer shelf life if kept frozen.
Foods That Can Be Frozen
To find out how long flour lasts, see our flour page.
To find out how long nuts last, see our nut page.
To find out how long grains last, see our grains menu to choose the interested grain.