By December 19, 2012 Read More →

Flour Facts You Need To Know

When it comes to preparing for economic collapse, job loss & natural disasters, we are taught to store food those hard times.

Let’s face it, with all the information out there on how to store your food, it can get mighty confusing.  Flour seems to be controversial as to how long it is *safe* to store.  After much research, I put together a list of facts I have found on many different types of flours.  Remember to do a basic test of any staples before using them.  Observe and smell.  If either test fails, then be safe and toss it out.

all_purpose_flourAll Purpose Flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat.  As one of the most commonly used flours in America, it can be bleached or unbleached.  Chemically treated flour is labeled bleached and flour that is allowed to age naturally is considered unbleached.

Shelf life:  If properly sealed or wrapped, all-purpose flour should last safely on your shelf for 10-15 months.  If refrigerated, then up to 24 months.  I found reports of people who have used it well beyond this (but not too many) and that is up to you.  Heat and moisture accelerate staleness, so store in a cool, dry place.  When weather is hot and humid outside, store it in your freezer.


better for bread


Bread Flour is made from hard, high protein wheat.  It is unbleached and conditioned with ascorbic acid.  This creates better texture and increases volume.  Bread flour is used primarily with yeast products.

Shelf Life: If properly sealed or wrapped in an air tight container bread flour can last 6 months on the shelf or up to a year in the freezer.


self rising flour


Self-Rising Flour does not need salt or leavening agents added because they are already added by the manufacturer.  It is sometimes referred to as phosphate flour and is primarily used for biscuits, quick breads and fried chicken.

Shelf life:  If properly sealed or wrapped the all-purpose flour should last safely on your shelf for 10-15 months.  If refrigerated, then up to 24 months.  You can make your own self-rising flour by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda and a half teaspoon of salt to one cup of All Purpose Flour.


instant flour

Instant Flour is wheat flour in which barley flour has been added.  Its purpose is to dissolve quickly and is primarily used in sauces and gravies.  It can also be used for making pie crusts and recipes calling for cake flour.  However, it is not the same as all-purpose flour.  It is lower in protein.  If you have a recipe that calls for instant flour and you cannot find it, many cooks will substitute with cake or pastry flour.

Shelf life:  Properly sealed instant flour has a shelf like of 6-8 months on the shelf and a year or so in a freezer.

cake flour

Cake Flour is white flour that is fine textured and should always be sifted before measure as it has a tendency to clump after being on the shelf too long.  It is 5-7% protein being the lowest protein flour on the market.  When using a cake/pastry, muffin, quick bread or cookie recipe that has more sugar than flour, this is a good flour to use because it is less likely to collapse.   If you cannot find this flour in your area then you can substitute all-purpose flour by removing 2-3 tablespoons of flour per cup used in the recipe.

Shelf life: see notes below.

ww pastry flour

Pastry Flour is not intended to make bread with, but is used to make a flaky biscuit, pastry, cookies, pie crust and quick breads.  It has between 7% and 9% protein.  This flour is hard to find in super markets but can be found online and in bakery shops.   I have heard it is possible to make it yourself using a 2:1 ratio of all-purpose flour (2) to cake flour (1), but I have not tried this.

Shelf Life: see notes below.


brown rice flour

Brown Rice Flour

Rice Flour  is flour made from finely milled white or brown rice.

Shelf life: White rice (Known as white flour) shelf life, if stored properly can be stored indefinitely.  Brown rice flour on the other, has a shelf life in the refrigerator of about 5-6 months and in the freezer it can last up to a year.  Brown rice has a higher oil level in it because of the bran and germ in it which causes it to go rancid if not stored properly.





Whole Wheat Flour is made from the whole kernel of wheat.  The shelf life is considerably shorter than that of white flour due to the presence of wheat germ, resulting in an unsaturated oil.  This causes a higher potential for rancidity if not stored correctly.  Wheat flour should be stored in a tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Shelf Life:  If stored on the shelf, 3 months.  If stored in the freezer, 6 months.


gluten free flour



Gluten Flour is milled from spring wheat and is primarily used for diabetic recipes.  These flours are also for people who can’t eat wheat flours or anything made with wheat.  These flours can affect a recipe’s cooking time, flavor, and texture.

Shelf Life:  In the freezer up to one year.  On the shelf, about 6 months and check for rancidity.



Buckwheat Flour is a gluten-free flour as well.  It has a great nutty flavor and is easy to work with.  It is used for anyone who has gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Shelf Life:  3-6 months on the shelf and up to one year in the freezer.






Spelt Flour is a wheat based flour that is very popular and widely used among people who have wheat allergies but are okay to use gluten.  Spelt has a nutty/sweet flavor that is among favorites for many who bake bread.

Shelf Life:  3-6 months in the pantry if properly sealed. 6-12 months if stored in your freezer.





white flour

White Flour also known as white rice flour is the flour that can be stored for 10 years or longer and what most preppers store in their long-term storage.  White flour is made by stripping wheat of everything useful and then using chemicals to bleach the color out of the flour.  Important medical facts you need to know about white flour.

Shelf life: Indefinitely if stored properly in air tight container.


Flour must be kept in a cool, dry place.  All flours have a limited shelf life.  The main changes that occur is the oxidation of the oils in the flour which can cause the flour to become stale or rancid.  If your flour is stored in a cool, dry place it prevents the flour from absorbing moisture.  To kill any bugs/eggs, place your flour in the freezer for 48 hours.  If possible, to extend the shelf life, keep the flour in the freezer when you’re not using it.

Store your flour in an air tight container.  This can mean Tupperware, or a plastic freezer bag.  Anything to lessen its exposure to air.  If you’re storing your flour in a canister or container on the shelf place a bay leaf in with the flour.  This will protect against bug infestation. Bay leafs are a natural insect repellent.

Throw away any flour that has a strong odor, smells stale or rancid.

I know there are many more flour choices out there on the market to learn about.  I have focused this article on the most popular types used today to help you better understand what each kind is used for and what you might think about adding to your food storage.  Feel free to leave comments in the section below.

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Posted in: Food Storage

About the Author:

Cari is an editor and author for American Preppers Network. Her family currently live in Georgia. Cari spends her free time gardening, canning, testing products for review, helping others prepare and going to the gym. She believes preparedness is about love and taking care of your family. Cari also has her own website where she shares all of her preparedness articles and her recipes for canning, dehydrating, juicing, basic cooking. To have a look and hopefully follow her: Click Here! Please Join My New Blog!

14 Comments on "Flour Facts You Need To Know"

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  1. Katie says:

    What determines the shelf life on flour? Taste, quality, etc? I was just getting ready to mylar some up, but now I’m not so sure.

    • Basically how quick it becomes stale or rancid. Most all of them do after a long period of time except for white flour. To date, white flour can last 30+ years according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints if packaged correctly. (freeze it first to kill any potential weevil eggs and then store it in your Mylar bags in the buckets. If you are going to store some flour for long term storage I would stick to white flour. If your storing anything else i would recommend your freezer for up to a year.


  2. stevenswilkins says:

    that was VERY helpful. thank you!

  3. Kelly says:

    I am not disagreeing with the comments on the shelf life of flour, just passing on my own experiences here.  I continually have a large amount of flour on hand in my preps and it is generally rotated out completely every two years.  I store the flour in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and then that is sealed in an airtight bucket as well.  I have never had any issues with any of the flour.  The idea of freezing the flour for 48 hours prior to storage is a good idea which I have not, but will incorporate into my process in the future.  

    Great article and thanks for the information!

    • I am with ya on that one girl. I’ve never had any of my flour go bad either but i only store white flour. I have never stored specialty flours. After hours of research many bakers say the baking flours and such will go stale, i’m not arguing it either because i dont use baking flours, i’m a buy from the box kinda girl when it comes to making cakes 😉 thank you so much for your insight!!

  4. Claudia says:

    I have only one flour give me trouble – I won’t say the name unless someone wants to know…but I hAve had several bags that smell ‘musty’.  Do you think it’s bad?

    • i would say yes, and also would like to know what kind and how long you had it before it smelled that way please.


      • Claudia says:

        It is King Arthur Bread Flour. The dates on the top were good and it was this way coming from the shelf of the grocery store. I even opened two bags that I bought at the same time the first time it happened. It was a shock because I had never had flour that smelled like that. That was about a year and a half ago. They sent me coupons for the flour, but just the other day it happened again. I used it because it was all I had – everything went okay and the bread didn’t taste bad, but I threw the rest away and will probably not buy their product again. Thanks!

  5. Dianne Finnegan says:

    While I appreciate all your insight on storing flour, I unfortunately must disagree on one point. If I have stored my flour in a sealed tin can with an oxygen absorber, I have been told it can last up to 10 years. I think I have at least 50lbs stored now and I plan on getting another 50 at least to store with my food storage for preps.

    • Yes, you can do that with white flour. As stated in the article it can last 20 + years. All the other flours are facts based on research of others who store flour.

      Thanks for your input. :)


  6. oldgraymare says:

    My family has problems with gluten therefore we only use almond flour. I buy some from a local country store. However, for long term storage we buy almonds in bulk put them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and desiccants. That way we can grind our own as needed. Almond flour can be used to make cakes, breads and coating for baked or fried foods. It’s very versatile.

  7. stoneoak says:

    I’m confused as to why white flour is also known as white rice flour when it is made from stripping wheat of everything. There’s no rice in it, right?