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How to Tell If Flour Is Bad

Have you ever been halfway through a recipe only to realize that the flour you’re using might be past its prime?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the telltale signs that your flour may have gone bad.

From changes in appearance to odd smells, we’ll teach you exactly how to tell if flour is bad, ensuring your baked goods turn out perfect every time.

How to tell if flour is bad?


If flour is bad, it will have an off smell, taste sour or bitter, and feel gritty to the touch. The color of the flour may also be darker than usual. If flour has gone bad, it’s best to discard it.

A spoon and bowl full of flour sitting on a dark background with a bag of flour.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to tell if flour has gone bad and give you helpful tips on how to store your flour correctly.

By following these steps, you can ensure your flour remains fresh and safe to use. We’ll also go over the signs to look for when it comes to discoloration, bugs, and sour smell.

By being aware of these signs, it will be easy to spot when flour has gone bad, so you can avoid any potential health risks associated with it.

How it looks

If you’re just looking at flour to determine if it has gone bad, the primary signs to look for are discoloration or bugs.

You can try mixing some flour with water in a small bowl. If it forms into a paste and sticks together easily, then the flour is still good. If it remains lumpy and doesn’t stick together, then it may have gone bad.

Changes in the color of the flour can also be an indicator that it has gone bad – such as if you’re seeing green or yellow hues, as this can indicate the presence of mold growth.

Lastly, if you can see any visible signs of decay within the flour, such as mold or brown spots, then this is a telltale sign that the flour has gone bad.

How it smells

By using smell alone to tell if your flour is bad, give it a sniff. If you detect a musty, sour smell, that indicates the flour has gone bad.

If you do not smell anything, it is likely still fine to use. Additionally, if your flour has been stored for a long period of time, it is best to go ahead and throw it away to ensure that the product is safe to consume.

How it feels

Flour that has gone bad will often have a different texture than when it is fresh. It may become clumpy, with lumps that are difficult to break apart.

It may also feel dry and crumbly, with no moisture left in it or it may have a Play-doh-like texture and feel, making it difficult to knead or spread.

These are all signs that the flour has gone bad and should not be used.

What is flour?

Flour is a powder made from grains such as wheat, rice, corn, and rye, and is used for baking, cooking, and other culinary purposes.

It has a neutral aroma and a smooth and dry texture and usually appears white or cream-colored. It can also come in whole-grain forms.

How to store flour properly

The best way to store flour properly in order to keep it fresh is to transfer it from its original packaging into an airtight container or sealable freezer bag.

Make sure to label the container with the type of flour and the date of purchase. The container should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place like the back of your pantry, and away from strong-smelling ingredients and liquids that could harm the quality of your flour.

Learn all of the ins and outs of how to store flour to ensure freshness and longevity.

For even greater shelf life, you can store your flour in the fridge or freezer. If you are using flour in a recipe that requires room-temperature ingredients, let the flour temper a bit before using it.

Check out my simple sourdough starter recipe and also how to tell if my sourdough starter is bad, could it be the flour?

What is the shelf life of flour?

The shelf life of flour depends on the type of flour and how it is stored. Generally, refined flours such as white, all-purpose, bread, and cake flour can last up to 12 months when stored at room temperature, while whole wheat flour only lasts 1-3 months.

To extend the storage time of almost any flour, including whole wheat and gluten-free flour, you can refrigerate or freeze them.

The best-by date printed on the bag will give you an idea of when the flour’s peak quality will start to decline.

Can I freeze flour?

Yes, you can freeze flour to help maintain its quality for a longer time. Once you open the original flour packaging, transfer the flour to an airtight glass container or a resealable freezer bag.

Store your flour in a cool, dark place, preferably in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Consider storing flour in smaller quantities inside freezer bags to save on space.

Also, use a heavy-duty freezer bag when storing flour in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent the flour from absorbing moisture and odors, and flavors from other foods and products.

Did you know that you can also freeze bread? Check out my how to freeze bread post to learn the best ways.

What are the dangers of eating bad flour?

Eating bad flour can be risky as it may contain mycotoxins, which can lead to long-term health issues such as cancer, kidney damage, and reproductive disorders if consumed in large amounts.

Eating flour that has been infested with bugs like flour beetles, weevils, and moth larvae, while not harmful, is unappetizing and should be avoided.

Additionally, moldy flour that has been exposed to moisture can also cause upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

So, while eating expired flour may not have serious health risks, it is best to buy fresh flour to prevent any health issues.

Eating raw flour can make you sick as well so make you know how to tell if brownies are done or how to tell when cake is done to ensure that you’re not eating raw flour.

Frequently asked questions for how to tell if flour is bad

Yes, whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life than all-purpose flour due to its higher oil content. It’s best to store whole wheat flour in the refrigerator or freezer and use it within a few months.

It’s not recommended to use flour infested with insects, as it could be contaminated with waste or other pathogens. Discard the flour and thoroughly clean the storage area to prevent further infestations.

Consuming flour that has gone bad may cause digestive issues or food poisoning, depending on the cause of spoilage. Always inspect your flour for signs of spoilage before using it in recipes.


Knowing how to tell if flour is bad is an essential skill for any home baker.

By following our expert tips, you’ll be able to confidently determine the quality of your flour, guaranteeing delicious and consistent results in your baking endeavors.

Don’t let questionable flour spoil your culinary creations; keep these signs in mind and bake with confidence!

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