February 25, 2010

Can You Bake with Old Food Storage Flour?

Today I tried to use some outdated white flour stored in #10 cans. In the past I have been able to use outdated grains such as oats with no problem. But this flour had a tinny smell, and even a tinny taste. I thought I would try it in my muffins just to be sure and sifted it to remove some lumps. The muffins were NOT good. They were not light and fluffy and the taste was definitely off. I had personally canned this flour in October 2002 so it is 7 1/2 years old. But it hasn't always been stored below 75 degrees Fahenheit so I did lose some of the shelf life. The shelf life on this #10 can said 5 years (if stored below 75 degrees) which is a shorter-shelf life than whole grains. But it's got to be stored far cooler than that. And I believe it. So, as you store your flour, understand that it may not last as long if you store it above the recommended temperature. If anyone else has experienced this, please share.

I think I will be storing about 20-25 lbs. of white flour in a bucket with a Gamma lid. It's really a short-term product. As long as I have wheat, I really don't need to can white flour in #10 cans.

Here is an article on the shelf life of un-canned flour. Click here

"For every 10°F increase in temperature, the shelf life is reduced by almost 50 percent." (Food Storage for the Clueless, Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd, 1999, p. 271).


  1. yep that's pretty much how it went for me as well--i just figured the smell might be from the tin can..but nope.

    sigh...so ALL my 1999 flour will be going going GONE! what a bummer...

  2. Was this preground white flour like the ones you buy bagged from the store? Or was it Wheat grain?

  3. The shelf life the LDS Church lists for white flour is 10 years. Which is probably true if you keep it in a colder location. You could try to bake with yours first to see what happens. But my kids noticed the yucky taste. This was preground flour from a bag that I put in cans. Wheat is so much better to deal with because you can grind it as you go and not lose the nutritional value. I plan to get a new bag of white flour from Sam's Club and keep it in a large bucket for short term use.

  4. Same happened to me. I had had my cans of flour for about 4 years. During that time, we relocated a couple of times. I always wonder if the high temperatures of the truck carrying our stuff during the summer was what affected my cans. My flour and sugar tasted pretty bad, like metal. I had to throw away several cans. I don't store food in cans anymore. I just buy food in pouches to store for a year at most. It is not a good idea to store for more than a year if you relocate often.

  5. thanks for sharing your experience. This information is valuable for me.

  6. This is good to know. Thank you.:)

    What do you think is an optimal shelf life? I'm a bit concerned about the tinny taste and smell. How long does it take for canned flour to develop an off taste?

  7. I talked to someone at the local LDS Home Storage Center and he thinks the temperature at times was above 75 degrees, and not cool. Really cool. I've read that storing flour in the freezer is the best for long-term storage. Most of us won't do that because we don't have much freezer space. He recommended only storing wheat in the cans. So I probably won't can white flour anymore and just keep it in bags in a bucket to use often. The off-taste was probably because it had gone rancid.

  8. I have found articles that said if you would place your flour in a bowl and stir it around & then come back occassionally over the next few hours & stir more it would re-oxygenate the flour and remove the tin smell. I haven't had any of my flour go "tinny" to tell you, but I do have friends who swear that it has worked for them. LOVE your blog, just found it today & can't wait to read more! :)

    1. I have tried this and it has worked for me in the past. I just opened two cans, both smell tinny. But I want to make bread "now" and not in a few days when the smell goes away!

  9. Prepared NOT ScaredFebruary 28, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Your comment was right on. The flour just needs to air out before you use it. It will get rid of the smell and the funny taste.

  10. Another cure for that *tinny* flour is to cut a peeled raw potato in half, put it in the can with the flour and leave overnight in cool place (fridge will do, but in a cool pantry or basement is just as good).
    Toss the potato away in the morning (or put it in your compost heap or toss to the chickens or pigs).
    My grandmother did this and it worked fine. Also, if you tuck a dried bay leaf into each can as you are canning it, it will stop any flour buggies from hatching AND will give your flour a fresh taste longer.

  11. My mother swears that a study was done that showed that, over time, flour looses the ability to produce items that rise well. I have noticed that several food storage businesses sell gluton and/or "flour enhancer" that is said to help produce better baked goods. I even called one to ask them if what my mother had said was true and if that was why they sold the flour enhancer. The woman hadn't ever heard of the study and said that they usually sold those types of products to professional bakers -- but it got me thinking. Anyone heard anything like that before?

  12. I have heard that barley flour is mixed with the wheat flour for bakeries, for higher quality baking

  13. I always took the flour out of the can before I needed it and stored it in a hard plastic container ... this got rid of the smell and taste. Just the can I was going to use.

  14. I want to store some of the wheat barley flour in cans. Do you think the canary will let me do it there?


Thanks for your comments and suggestions!


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