The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Organic flour shelf life?

La masa's picture
La masa

Organic flour shelf life?

Hi all,

my English language skills are a bit limited, excuse me for any mistake I could make:

I've found a couple of sites here at Spain where to buy organic flour.  I mean, stone milled wheat including the germ.

I'd like to try that flour, but as I don't bake a lot of bread (we're just 2 at home) I'd like to know what is the expected shelf life of this kind of flour.

I have a bag of whole rye flour which have a rancid smell even when fresh, but this doesn't seem to be a problem

since my starter loves it and this flour is just a small amount in my doughs.

But this would be a problem for the "main" flour, I guess.

I bake once or, at most, twice a week, and my usual bake is 500 gr flour.

Would this kind of flour stay fresh for, say, 3 months?


Thanks so much,

La Masa




Yerffej's picture

If it is real whole grain flour that contains all of the bran, germ, and endosperm then the shelf life is short.  It will last a few months at room temperature and longer if you keep it refrigerated.

Your rye should not smell rancid especially when it is fresh.  Maybe you are not accustomed to the smell of rye but if it truely smells rancid then I would not use it.  I would also keep the rye in the refrigerator.


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

The main reason for whole grain flour not lasting and not taste good is because it contains more oil in the germ and husk. This will go rancid over time, as will any fat or oil.

The other reason for any carbohydrate having a short shelf life is that most contain mite eggs when packed. They will hatch over time and most people find them unattractive. They do no harm and will sift out.

flourgirl51's picture

If you are able to freeze it it will keep longer. I agree that freshly ground rye flour should not smell rancid.

Kroha's picture

I buy stone-ground organic whole wheat and rye flours directly from a mill in the US and was told by the owner that shelf life is 6 months in the fridge and a year in a freezer.  I always buy in 5 lb bags so that the flour is easy to put into the fridge/freezer and then take out.  It does take some space.  I store whatever flour I will be using less frequently in the freezer, and the more frequently used flour in the fridge.  You might want to ask the miller you will be buying from about the shelf life, they should know. 


La masa's picture
La masa

Thanks you all for your responses.

I've never kept my flours in the fridge, but if I'm going to use these more "delicate" flours, I suppose I will have to reserve some space for them. But this practice is just not practical if the amount of flour is in the order of a few Kg. The available space in the freezer is even smaller, so I'm going to use it only for my "delicatessen" flours, organic spelt and the like.

It's an obvious thing, to freeze food that we expect to keep for a few months. Why I never thought of it before?

The rancid smell of my whole rye flour is not too strong, I don't  perceive it as a bad smell.

I've always been told that my sense of smell is excellent, maybe it's just this :-)


suave's picture

I once had a bag KA organic whole wheat that I kept on a shelf and used sporadically.  It went rancid in about a year.  I base my personal assumptions about shelf life of whole wheat flours on that fact.