Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten-Free Flours

Research-Based FACTS about  Storing Gluten-Free Flours

A frequently asked question I receive from readers is What is the best way to correctly store our gluten-free flours?

What a terrific question! After all, once we spend extra money on specialty flours and starches, 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 want to keep reading.

Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten Free Flours

What You’ve Already Heard (But what may not be 100% accurate.)

Here’s what you have probably been told about storing gluten-free flours, pre-packaged glute- 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.

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 only be told what to do. I like to know why I should do something.

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.

What You Need to Know about Storing Gluten-Free Flours & Starches

1. We should store our gluten-free flours in airtight containers.

Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten Free Flours

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 into flours.) Quart size glass mason jars make an excellent and inexpensive choice. Zip top freezer bags will also work if you are short on 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.

Remember to label your flour containers, especially if you’re using several different types of flours and starch since some look similar.

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 items like bean and pea flours, de-fatted 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 cabinets.

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.

Research-Based FACTS about Storing 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.

Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten Free Flours

Examples of nut flours are those made from almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts. Although the coconut is technically a seed {learn more in “Coconut is NOT a Nut“}, 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 certified gluten-free 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 six 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.

Research-Based FACTS about Storing Gluten Free Flours

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.

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. (This is especially true with coconut flour and potato starch.)

Now that you have some answers about storing, measuring, and sifting or gluten-free flours, I hope you will use these tips to bake some delicious gluten-free baked goods! Check out the Recipe Index for ideas.

xo

Gigi ;)

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  • Lauren

    Thanks for all the helpful info Gigi! I just had my flour in canisters. I had no idea storage methods made a difference. This was super helpful! Thanks again!

    • http://www.glutenfreegigi.com Gluten Free Gigi

      Hi, Lauren. :)

      You’re so welcome! I’m happy the info was beneficial to you.

      Thank you for stopping by here to let me know.

      xoxo,
      Gigi ;)

  • Pingback: 5 Flour-Related Mistakes that Lead to Dry Gluten Free Baked Goods (Plus Tips for Baking Success!) — Gluten Free Gigi

  • Julie Smith

    Happy holiday,
    I have been reading your blog on how to store gluten free flours.
    I have a question for you and I hope you can answer for me.
    It is regarding a good basic flour mix. My niece gave me the following
    2 1/2 cups flava bean flour
    3/4 cup cornstarch
    3/4 cup tapioca flour
    1/2 cup sorghum sweet flour

    I bought all the flours while we were on vacation in Oregon at Bob’s red mill and everything was baking ok. My problem is that I live in Utah and I am having a hard time finding the flava bean and sourgum flours here at the various stores. Have you heard anything on the Bob’s red mill gluten free baking flour mix? Or do you have a good basic flour mix. I don’t make a lot of bake goods. Just corn bread cookies and cakes. Have not found a good basic bread for sandwiches as of yet.

    I know that you are really busy with all you internet and blogs but I thought I would ask.
    I have only been diagnosed for about the last 7months. So I am fairly new to this. I choose your website sense it looks the most informed and has the best info out there that I can tell.

    If you have time to email me any info that would be great!
    Look forward to your response.
    Happy holidays,
    Julie smith
    Jlsprogramgal@yahoo.com

    • http://www.glutenfreegigi.com Gluten Free Gigi

      Julie, please send this type query to my mailbox@glutenfreegigi.com email address, as this is something for me to thoughtfully consider and get back to you via email. Makes it easier for me to ponder and give adequate consideration to your question.

      thank you!

      xo

  • Kim Z

    I’m new to the gluten free lifestyle. This was very helpful. I just made my first batch of gluten free pumpkin bread using Bobs Red Mill GF all purpose flour. Looks and smells delicious…can’t wait to try it! Thanks for all the information and recipes you provide us!

    • http://www.glutenfreegigi.com Gluten Free Gigi

      Welcome to gluten free living and to my site, Kim!! So happy to have you here.

      I’m glad the flour post was helpful to you.

      Keep reading and you’ll find lots of goodies along the way, I’m sure.

      xo