In a long-term crisis situation, there are certain food staples that every prepper needs to have on hand. Among these is flour, or grains to grind into flour, as needed.
In an ideal situation, whole grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc., are stored in 5-gallon buckets, using Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Whole grains have an extended shelf life of greater than 20 years when stored in this fashion.
Once the grains are ground into flour, however, the shelf life significantly shortens. Ideally, the well-prepared home is equipped with a grain mill, whether manual or electric, to produce flour on demand.
Grain mills are wonderful tools. However, both electric and manual can easily cost hundreds of dollars, putting them well out of range for many “Shoestring” Preppers.
Those of modest means are often not able to afford “an ideal situation”, and must think creatively. Without a grain mill, for example, it becomes necessary to store flour itself.
According to Shelf Life Advice, a five pound bag of all-purpose flour will stay fresh 6-8 months in your pantry, 6-12 months in the refrigerator, and up to two years in the freezer. That’s not a long time, when compared with the shelf life of whole grains.
Thinking creatively, and with the use an affordable vacuum sealer such as the FoodSaver, the Shoestring Prepper can extend the shelf life of flour by as much as three years. Here’s how.
1. Purchase your flour of choice in five pound bags. Bulk flour may save you a few pennies a pound, but keeping the flour in the original packaging will assure an excellent seal on the vacuum bag. Also, be aware that whole wheat flour, no matter how it is stored, has a reduced shelf life, due to the oils that remain in the product after it is ground.
2. Place the entire package of flour into a one gallon vacuum sealer bag, or a 12″ length cut from a roll (with one end sealed) and use the vacuum/seal function. This will remove air from between the grains of flour, seal the bag and provide a brick-like result. Date the package.
3. Place the sealed bags in the freezer for at least one week. I usually go two weeks, just in case. This will kill any insects or their eggs/larvae which might have come home from the store with you!
4. At the end of that time, remove the sealed bags to a dry area for at least four days to allow any accumulated moisture to evaporate.
5. Vacuum sealed bags of flour can be stored in plastic totes. Households with rodent issues may opt for five gallon buckets or metal containers. A Shoestring Prepper without allergies might just get a cat to deal with the rodents!
When opening the bags, you will find the flour tightly compressed. It is suggested that you use a sifter or a fine mesh strainer to loosen it for use.