REAL Gluten Free Flour Power
Welcome! Happy Monday morning, Honey Bunch. :)
I’m so excited about our week ahead!!
It’s going to be filled with useful, “right now” tips and pointers to make living gluten free more simple, affordable, and nutritious.
(We’ll be having loads of FUN along the way, too, so don’t miss a single “Daily Gluten Free Fix” this week and be sure to share the love by forwarding it on to your friends, too!)
Today, we’re talking about gluten free flours.
Lovely reader, Claire, recently asked if there is a correct way to store our gluten free flours. What a terrific question! Thank you for asking!
For Claire, and for everyone, I have some Gluten Free Flour Power to make our gluten free baking the BEST it can be!
After all, once we spend extra money on gluten free flours, the last thing we want to happen is have them go bad because we didn’t store them properly.
And in case you think you’ve heard it all before and this is going to be the same old-same old when it comes to storing gluten free flours, you may just want to keep reading, Honey Bunch…
Research-Based FACTS about
Storing Gluten Free Flours
Here’s what you have probably been told about storing gluten free flours, pre-packaged gluten free flour blends, and all-purpose gluten free baking mixes:
1. Gluten free flours should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container once opened.
2. Gluten free flours will keep well for several months in the refrigerator and some even longer (some up to six or eight months) in the freezer.
3. Some gluten free flours can be stored at room temperature as long as they are tightly sealed and used quickly (in one month or less).
Now that we’re clear on what everyone else is saying, I’m going to give you the FACTS.
That’s right, even when it comes to something like storing our gluten free flours, I turn to scientific research. That’s because it’s my job to provide you with the correct information on every topic we cover. I don’t simply repeat what “the others” say (they aren’t always right!).
Besides, it’s not good enough to just be told what to do. I like to know why I should do something. Not to worry, though, because I’ve done the legwork on gluten free flour storage for you and I have your answers.
While some of the information we’re used to hearing about gluten free flour storage is accurate, some of it is inaccurate or incomplete. Here’s what I found…
1. We should store our gluten free flours in airtight containers. Here’s why…
Flours absorb moisture. Food scientists report moisture is the most critical issue to control (even more critical than temperature extremes) when it comes to storing any type of flour.
Tightly sealed containers are especially important for flours stored in the moisture-rich fridge. Airtight containers also prevent flours absorbing odors from other foods (again, a common issue for flours stored in the fridge).
As far as the type of container that works best, either glass or plastic will do. (I prefer glass because it guarantees no moisture or other food odors get in my flours.) Quart size glass mason jars make an excellent and inexpensive choice. Zip top freezer bags will also work if you are short on canister space and prefer those.
Want to hang on to those package labels for your flours for future reference?
No problem! Once you empty a flour bag, cut away the nutrition label, wipe it with a dry paper towel to remove excess flour, and place it in a small zip top bag. Flatten the bag and zip it up. You can either tape it to your flour container or store all your flour labels in a kitchen drawer or notebook where you can easily find them.
2. Most gluten free flours and starches can be stored at room temperature for up to six months (some longer!) when properly sealed.
This includes bean and pea flours, defatted soy flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, potato flour, and cornstarch.
In most cases, a kitchen counter, cabinet, or pantry will do just fine for storing properly sealed gluten free flours. Remember moisture, not temperature, is most detrimental to our gluten free flours. There is usually a greater risk of moisture contamination in the fridge than in our kitchen cabinet.
One exception may be in areas of the country where it is extremely hot and humid during certain times of the year. If you live in such an area, depending on the temperature and humidity level inside your home, the refrigerator or freezer may be the best location for your gluten free flours.
3. Certain gluten free flours like those made from whole grains or nuts, if they are stored for extended periods (more than three months), store best in the freezer.
This is because flours made from whole grains or from nuts have high oil and protein content, making them more susceptible to spoilage than highly refined flours and starches.
A whole grain flour is one made from the entire seed (or kernel) of a plant. These flours contain the bran, the germ, and the endosperm of the kernel. Some examples are amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, corn, oats, and brown rice.
Note: Not all of these are true grains (some are seeds, pseudo-grains, or pseudo-cereals), but are often referred to as whole grains because they have similar nutrient profiles and uses as whole grains.
Although soybeans are a legume, due to its fat content, full fat soy flour is also susceptible to spoilage similar to whole grains if kept at room temperature for an extended time, so I’m including it here.
Examples of nut flours are those made from almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts. Although the coconut is technically a seed, as of 2006, the FDA mandated coconut be considered a tree nut, so I am including it here.
(According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, coconut allergies are rare. Available research indicates most individuals with coconut allergy are not allergic to other tree nuts.)
If you grind your own gluten free flours from whole grains or nuts, you may want to consider grinding them as needed for recipes. The whole grains or whole nuts keep much longer at room temperature than the milled flours. (This is what I prefer doing with millet, amaranth, quinoa, and oats.)
This is not to say you cannot keep certain whole grain flours at room temperature. I have kept sorghum flour, green and yellow pea flour, and oat flour at room temperature for at least eight months with no spoilage.
4. There is no one-size-fits-all policy for gluten free flours. Oil content and moisture exposure seem to have the greatest impact on the length of time flour remains fresh.
Because all flours (and all kitchen climates) are slightly different, you may want to conduct your own experiment. For gluten free flours you use regularly, store a small amount (no more than 1/4 cup) of each in a sealed container at room temperature. Check the flour once each month for spoilage. You will be able to tell if the flour goes bad by the off smell and/or slightly tangy taste. It is always a good idea to smell and taste (just a touch on the tip of your finger will do) your flours when you open and store them so you have a good reference for what the fresh version is like.
Regardless of how or where you store your flours, be sure to label them clearly to avoid confusion and potential baking mishaps.
For flours that need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, allow them to come to room temperature prior to using them in your baking for the best results. Using cold flours can lead to uneven baking, the need for adjusted baking time, and/or denser texture than intended in baked goods.
One approach, especially if you purchase your flours in bulk, is to store a moderate amount at room temperature for immediate use in baking and the remainder in your freezer. That way, you always have room temperature flour handy for baking while extending the shelf life of the rest of your flour.
In addition to answering Claire’s terrific question about storing our gluten free flours, here is more Gluten Free Flour Power to help you get the most out of the gluten free flours you buy and insure great results in the kitchen!
Measuring Gluten Free Flours
This is an area where bakers are divided. Some prefer using cups, others prefer a scale. Regardless of your preference, one thing we can all agree on is the importance of consistent measurements when baking. This insures we achieve the desired results every time.
With certain gluten free flours like tapioca flour and potato starch, there can be great variance with inconsistent measuring.
I made a helpful video to show you exactly how to consistently measure your gluten free flours every time. You can find it HERE on my YouTube Channel. (If you haven’t already, I encourage you to subscribe so you never miss a new, informative How-To Video!)
Sifting Gluten Free Flours
I never sift my gluten free flours, but I always whisk them. I use a large wire whisk to smooth the flours in their containers prior to measuring and again after I measure and combine all my dry ingredients for a recipe.
If you prefer sifting, that is fine, too.
You can also put your flours in a blender or food processor if you prefer, although this can get a bit messy if you aren’t extremely careful. Be sure to let the dust settle before removing the lid after you blend. ;)
Regardless of whether you whisk, sift, or blend your gluten free flours, be sure to use one of these methods to prevent clumps of flour (or other dry ingredients like baking powder) in your finished product.
Now that we have some answers about storing, measuring, and sifting or gluten free flours, I feel like getting in the kitchen!
What are YOU baking this week?
Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org!