At PreparednessMama, we always like to give our readers the best tips on food storage to be prepared for anything. Today we want to share our advice for how best to store flour.
With the right storage conditions and proper packing, flour can last a quarter century! The first step is to make sure your food storage area (whether it be the basement, the pantry, your friend’s house, etc) is kept between temperatures of 40 and 70 degrees. Once the temperature is right, you can prepare your flour for storage. You will need a few food grade 5-gallon buckets, ziplock bags, oxygen absorbers, and a measuring cup. The flour will be poured in bags, the bags placed in buckets, and the oxygen absorbers added to ensure long-term freshness.
Read on to learn how to maintain long-term flour storage in bulk.
Why is Flour Storage Important?
You might be interested in how to incorporate cooking ingredients into your 3 month food supply plan. Many of our readers want to be as prepared as possible for the next unexpected crisis.
This could be a natural or political disaster that causes a food shortage. Or, like in recent years, a viral pandemic may require us to stay home for weeks or even months.
In cases like these, you want to be able to rely on your own supply of food. These might be frozen goods or cooking ingredients in the pantry. Either way, you want to have enough stock to last you for at least a few months. Flour is an essential component of a whole host of American meals that we know and love.
You don’t want to skimp out on flour, but it’s not necessarily obvious how to store flour properly. How can you ensure that it’s going to last you a long time?
You may have already read our more extreme preparedness guide for food storage. If you’re concerned about the future, or just want to be prepared, even longer storage is important.
Flour is present in many of our comfort foods
Why is flour such an essential ingredient for long term storage? Whether a pantry item to bulk up your 3 month food supply, or part of long term emergency storage, flour is used a lot.
Craving pancakes? Better have enough flour. Plan on baking… anything? You’ll need some flour. How about homemade pasta? Chances are, it’s made with flour. You can even make your own delicious bread with nothing more than flour and water!
Would it surprise you to learn that humans have been using flour for over 8,000 years? It’s true! Archaeologists have found evidence of ancient civilizations using crushed wheat seeds to make food that dates back to 6,000 BC!
Flour is essential for quality baked, fried, and breaded meats or vegetables, like this delicious pork cutlet. Craving some delicious fried mushrooms? Some corn starch is necessary, but don’t forget the flour!
The storage processes that we’ll discuss today mainly apply to wheat based flour. This is the primary type of flour that’s used in the United States, Canada, and most of Europe.
Even when flour is labeled as whole wheat, we’re still dealing with the same basic ingredients as white flour. So, the storing process is essentially identical.
Store flour the right way
Until about a century ago, flour couldn’t stay good for longer than about a year. This is because the part of the seed that reproduces, called the germ, can go bad after a short time.
It’s too hard to separate the germ from the rest of the seed, because it’s so small. So, until not that long ago, flour had a pretty limited shelf life. This changed when people discovered that heat treatment could separate the germ from the rest of the powdered wheat seed. This allowed flour to retain similar nutritional properties but last far longer.
Most store bought flour will last far longer than the basic ground wheat seed stuff. This is because nearly all flour is heat treated and able to withstand spoiling. However, you still need to follow some guidelines for storing if you want it to last for years.
Also be sure exactly what type of flour you’re buying and label it on your storage. This way you won’t forget later on. And, different types of flour (especially gluten-free flour like almond flour or rice flour) tend to have shorter shelf lives so keep a closer eye if you’re applying this system to them.
The challenge: Storing and moving 50 pounds of flour!
My motivation for this article was born out of necessity. This month I am moving across the country. It has been a long process that is almost finished. I’ve had to move all of my food storage. And, let me tell you, it’s been a chore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to have my long term food storage. We will certainly use all of it, but moving it is a pain. About a month ago, I decided that I needed to have another 50 pounds of non brominated flour from my favorite whole foods store – Bob’s Red Mill. This means that the flour is more natural, and hasn’t been tainted by unnatural dyes or chemical additives.
I’m not sure what possessed me to purchase 50 more pounds of flour. Especially right as I was preparing to travel 2,300 miles! Today I find myself with a big bag of flour that will not travel well in its current state.
To store 50 pounds of flour:
I will be using this flour fairly soon (I’m planning a bread making challenge) but this quick tip holds true for long term food storage too. Flour will last 20-30 years in food grade buckets if kept at the proper temperatures.
All long term containers for flour should be stored at between 40 and 70 degrees for optimal shelf life and nutrition. Whole wheat flour does even better in colder storage conditions. If you have room in your fridge or freezer, great!
You will need:
Why the zip bags you ask? I think it keeps the flour in more manageable portions and it makes packaging and using it cleaner and easier. You won’t have flour getting all over every time you open the bucket. It is also another barrier to pests getting into the food.
When I want to use some, I just remove a bag with 12 cups of flour and seal the bucket back up.
Storing bulk flour in bags inside your buckets
Measure out 12 cups of flour per bag and get as much air out of it as you can. When it comes to long term shelf life, oxygen is not your friend! An airtight container, however, is.
Place the bags inside of your buckets. One bucket will hold 6 plastic bags of flour.
If you are keeping them in storage for long term add 5 – 300cc oxygen absorbers per bucket. Each absorber will remove the oxygen for 1 gallon. If you are going to use the flour within the next year, you can skip this all together.
These oxygen absorbers are very affordable and an essential step for multi-year shelf life.
Ideally, the basement would be a good place to store your multi-gallon buckets. Basements tend to be cooler than the rest of the house, maintaining low temperatures even in the summer months. Even if you live in an area prone to flooding, your flour will be stored in airtight buckets.
No basement? No problem. As long as you keep your storage containers out of the sun, the pantry at room temperature should do just fine. Be sure to keep an eye on your indoor temperature. The pantry shouldn’t exceed about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep that flour fresh for years on end.
So no reason to worry about water (or pests) getting in there. These flour-filled buckets are an ideal addition to your 25 year emergency food supply. But, if you do plan on making your flour stay fresh for that long, consider using Mylar bags instead of ziplock bags.
Mylar is a more durable, longer lasting alternative that will maintain freshness for indefinite periods of time.
Extra Tip! Dry Oven Canning Flour
Dry oven canning is all the rage now. It is a work-intensive method to store dry goods long term without having to worry about bugs and their offspring ruining your precious emergency food supply. Oven canning has another (huge) advantage: the dry goods are stored in mason jars, which means that they’re extra protected from rodents and other vermin.
According to some die-hard preppers, oven canned dry goods, if stored correctly, can last up to 3 decades. I’ve never tried this method of storing flour in bulk for that extra long haul, but I am seriously thinking about giving it shot.
What is dry oven canning? Dry oven canning means placing dry foods such as flour in sterilized jars and heating them for a certain time and a certain temperature with the lids off. The entire process is designed to kill off any larvae or bugs hiding in the food you’re canning to prevent them from spoiling it.
Oven canning works great on flour, rolled oats, rice, beans, cornmeal, and anything with less than 10% moisture. Oven canning is one of the many dry pack canning methods that I’ve covered in my other blog post: Use Dry Pack Canning Methods to Preserve Food.
Since oven canning is not my area of expertise, I’ll let that nice lady from OurHalfAcreHomestead show you how to do it.
Do you have other thoughts on how to best store flour in bulk for the long haul? Please add your comments below!
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