The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Flour capacity/size question

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Flour capacity/size question

With Bob's Red Mill's own store closing (let's hope their other outlets can maintain fresh stock), I used a discount coupon and bought the only size they appear to have left of their 'Artisan' flour: 25 lbs!

My storage bins/containers are all 5 lbs.

Would be grateful if someone would kindly advise (ideally with an Amazon link etc) which airtight etc container I should get to keep such a (for me) large amount of flour. Is 8 quarts big enough, for instance?

Thanks so much in anticipation :-)

clevins's picture
clevins

Unless you go through that 25 lbs in abut 6 months or less, what I'd do is get some heavy duty 2 gallon ziploc freezer bags. Fill your 5lb container, then divide the rest into these bags. Compress, get as much air out as possible, then store the excess flour in the freezer. Remove as needed when you run out of the flour in your 5lb container.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, Clevins. I somehow doubt I'd use even half 25 lbs (Bob's Red Mill is out of that size too now… should we be worried about their operation?) before it begins to go rancid.

So I'll definitely take a look at 2 gallon bags. I'd need three or four of them, I think, wouldn't I?

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, I see them; that's really helpful.

Rancid is my concern :-)

rondayvous - Yes, I can see the advantages of home milling. This was a semi-impulse (well, maybe a semi-semi impulse) just because Bob's Red Mill was offering discounts. And 25 lbs wasn't actually that much more expensive than 2 x 5 lbs would have been. Time to experiment.

clevins's picture
clevins

is the reason I'd freeze, along with keeping the flour fresh.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Here's my math.

25 pounds x 454 grams per pound = 11,350 grams. 

See https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart
for the figure 120 grams per cup of bread flour.

11,350 grams divided by 120 grams per cup = 95 cups (rounded up)

95 cups divided by 4 cups per quart = 24 quarts, rounded up.

I suppose you can take it from there ... 24 quarts.

--

You might want to keep as much as you can in fridge or freezer.  I keep flour in my friidge in zipper seal plastic bags.  I can't speak to freezer storage, but I've heard about it.

Good luck amigo.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

For some reason, I can only get about 2 to 3 quarts of stuff in a 1 gallon plastic zipper bag, not a full 4 quarts or 1 gallon.  So test measure your bags before committing.

--

By the way,  the 120 grams per cup is uncompressed. By squeezing the air out, as clevins says, you'll need less storage volume.

clevins's picture
clevins

You might have to order them on Amazon etc as a lot of markets have 1 gallon but not 2. And you want freezer bags which are designed to be impervious to gasses etc

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks for the calculation, Dave!

Yes; I guess it's about 20 quarts (after some goes into a 5 lb container) or as many bags (your reservation about filling also noted) as I can.

Or do lots of backing very quickly :-)

Colin2's picture
Colin2

I like these things.  You may need a couple of them, but if you have the space they're useful for all kinds of dry-good storage.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XHFTH7N

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @Colin2!

Have bookmarked. I'd never have bought such a bucket. But it says they're food grade; and if you've also found them fit for purpose, then I should too. Appreciated!

clevins's picture
clevins

the flour going rancid over time which is the real danger (aside from pests)

rondayvous's picture
rondayvous

I bought 50 lbs of first clear last year (almost through it all) and vacuum-packed it in 5 lb (1 gallon) bags. If you buy grain, you can just mill it as you need it without nearly as much concern about it going bad. I still vacuum pack the grain too. The best Kitchenaid Mill is by Messerschmitt, but the mock mill works well too and is cheaper. I have both.

RichieRich's picture
RichieRich
Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, @RichieRich… I like the look of the Mylar bags :-)

alcophile's picture
alcophile

The post at primalsurvivor mentions using buckets with gasket lids. I have used Gamma Seal lids to store non-food items and they are very good at keeping out moisture and probably oxygen. Coupled with the oxygen absorbers you could probably store the flour for several years. The lids are relatively inexpensive at my local home improvement store. But I have to say that I like the idea of the Mylar bags, too.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Yes, I found the Gamma Seal on Amazon. Tempted. But fixing the lid looks a little intimidating, doesn't it.

Thanks, alcophile!

RichieRich's picture
RichieRich

Here's a YouTube video on installing Gamma Seal lids.

 

https://youtu.be/T_wiaEHAciw

 

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Appreciated, RichieRich!

Yes - that's really simple, isn't it.

Though I will follow their instructions, not stamp on lid + ring, as she did, which could (perhaps) distort the thread.

Reassured (thanks) and looking forward to delivery. The reviews say it's quick :-)

RichieRich's picture
RichieRich

Now I'm a bit confused. I went to Amazon and read this in the ad for Gamma Lids.

  • READY | Gamma Lids shine for daily or easy access dry storage
  • We are Gamma Seal Fans. However, as much as we like the ingenious Gamma Seal, we do not recommend them for long term food storage or liquid applications.

 

 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Agreed.

There is also this

alcophile's picture
alcophile

Both Azure Standard and Pleasant Hill Grain sell Gamma Seal lids for food storage. However, I did see this information on long-term food storage from an authoritative source:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/topics/food-storage/longer-term-food-supply?lang=eng#2

It is also true that HDPE buckets and lids may not provide complete protection to oxygen permeation. That's why the PETE containers are recommended.

I have used Mylar and other foil laminate bags in my career in biochemical manufacturing. We were most concerned about moisture and would use desiccant bags instead of oxygen absorbers. These pouches/bags were very effective barriers. However, they can be difficult to seal using something like a hot iron or other simple heat sealer. We used an industrial impulse sealer for sealing, and I used the sealer even for one or two pouches because I knew it was reliable. Using the more low-tech methods often produced poor seals that would allow air/moisture into the pouch.

How long do you anticipate this flour to be consumed? Most of these food storage recommendations seem to be for >5 year storage. If you are planning to use the flour with about a year, you might be able to package it in a well-sealed container as full as possible to minimize the headspace and air present. The fact that it is a white flour and not whole-grain is in your favor.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

I certainly don't expect to be dipping into this consignment in five years' time.

I'm also put off by what looks like a complex lid-sealing procedure.

I was also thinking of the ziplock bags as clevins suggests packed individually inside this.

clevins's picture
clevins

See one of the comments above that links to a prepper site, which talks about how flour can contain insect eggs that hatch (I know, ew but... ). Freezing kills them. 

You can compress flour a lot  - I have a 10lb package from Breadtopia that is actually small enough to fit in a 4 quart container - it's kind of impressive. So unless  your freezer is already packed, you should be fine to store 20lbs in a relatively small space, certainly smaller than the container you linked. 

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, clevins!

Will see when it arrives (Bob's red Mill seems to be taking longer than usual… not despatched in a week: should we be worried?) But our freezer is actually packed to the gills. Maybe time to do some housekeeping.

alcophile's picture
alcophile

Gamma Seal lids are actually very easy to use. The lid fits on 5-gallon (and any other equal diameter opening) buckets. There is a threaded ring that is easily pounded on the top of the bucket with a rubber mallet. The ring then accepts the screw-on gasket lid. Now, getting the sealing ring off to use on another bucket is another story. They are essentially permanently attached to the bucket. So, if the bucket is damaged, you will need buy a new lid/ring combo.

The gasket is very good at keeping the contents dry. Oxygen permeation is possible with the gasket and also the HDPE bucket. But I doubt that it is so fast that it would ruin the flour in a year or two.

The Ziploc bags and the Sterilite container will be more permeable to oxygen than the solid HDPE bucket with a Gamma Seal lid.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, alcophile. Understood. I'd use the same lid with the same bucket.

So you attach the threaded ring as a push on; like a hoop around a barrel?

And that ring, in turn, attached to the bucket acts as a thread for the lid?

Actually doesn't sound too bad, does it :-)

alcophile's picture
alcophile

Yep, that's it! The ring fits onto the lip/rim of the bucket.

Although the ring will require a little more than a push. Tapping/pounding with a rubber mallet will make it easier.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, alcophile.

Unless I can find more space in the freezer (we're in Southern California and tend to have to keep things cool), the Gamma Seal does seem the best bet. Have also bought the ziplock bags just in case.

At, say, 500 g a loaf (a week), thanks to Dave's calcs, I should have six months' backing from this one 25 lb bag.

So I don't think I'm asking too much of any of these storage solutions.

As always, many many thanks to everyone who's been so generous with time and thoughts to help me here!

clevins's picture
clevins

And you're safe from rancidity assuming it's kept relatively cool (i.e. not on a garage at 110F). Your main issue, and one the gamma seal won't help with unless you do the oxygen absorption thing, is possible insect contamination.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

clevins, we can keep the Gamma Seal at a maximum of 75°F, I think.

Could the insect risk ever come from just opening to take out more flour… which will be often?

clevins's picture
clevins

is from eggs in the flour already (read the link from @richierich - https://www.primalsurvivor.net/how-to-store-flour/ ). Freezing kills them as does depriving them of oxygen. You can stuff a LOT of flour in a little space if you compress it - easily 10lbs in 5 quart space - which is why I'd try to find space in the freezer.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks again, clevins.

Shall have to clear out the freezer now :-)

Also expect to have to compress the flour as much as I can.

 

clevins's picture
clevins

Unless OP bakes rarely, it's going to be gone in ~18 months or so I'd bet. Freezing it will be fine (esp given the risk of insect for longer term storage. The oxygen deprived long term stuff is very interesting but I'd only use it for unmilled grains, etc. 

troglodyte's picture
troglodyte

We have been buying bread flour in 25 pound bags for a long time. When we get a bag home, we take out the kitchen scale and divide the flour into one-gallon ziploc freezer bags weighing four pounds each. It takes 7 of the gallon ziploc bags. The final bag is light; that's okay. I flatten and press the air out of the bags while sealing them. The flat bags of flour fit "file style", lined up in a thick grocery bag, which we keep in the freezer (preferred) or refrigerator if the freezer is too full. The gallon ziploc bags are the heavy plastic type with double zippers. We have learned a few tricks along the way that make weighing and transferring easier and limit the flour from jamming the zippers.

Why 4 pound bags? It matches our kitchen canister for bread flour. When a bag has been emptied into the canister, the bag is returned to the freezer to join its friends for future reuse. We believe that keeping them cold keeps the bugs out.

(We = my partner and me.)

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, troglodyte!

I think I can follow that procedure pretty closely. The only extra step now (the ziplocs arrived this afternoon) is emptying the freezer. I did a stint on a food bank a while back; were were told that - even aside from the differences between 'best by', 'use by' and 'packed on' etc - food will generally last longer than those dates suggest. So I am imagining that all our freezer items dated 2020 (or earlier… you never know) have to go.

In the end, I suspect that it'll be a mixture of freezer, Gamma Seal and a higher number of bread batches than usual.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Not all the bags of flour have to go in the freezer at once.  

Suppose you have 6 bags.  Suppose it takes 3 days of freezing to insure any possible eggs are killed.  Freezing one bag at a time, you can get the job done in 18 days.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Dave,

Really? Where would you keep the bags once they're frozen?

Or are you saying that freezing to bugs is like boiling water to them?

Once they've been 'dealt with', no harm can come to the flour - because it's sealed - and it can safely be stored back at room temperature?

If so, that's great news :-)

alcophile's picture
alcophile

I believe the once the eggs have been killed by freezing the flour is free of insects. See the following:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279070342_Cold_temperature_disinfestation_of_bagged_flour

It's only the abstract, but it also contains the conclusion of the study.

Dave's idea us a good one. Once each bag has been frozen long enough, it can be thawed until free of condensation (important!), then placed in the Gamma sealed bucket.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, alcophile. Will do.

My Gamma Seal was despatched this morning by Fedex from Indiana, so should be here before the flour is!

I'm confident now that I can manage the ring and lid.

Can you see any reason why I should not:

  • use the ziplock bags throughout the whole process
  • freeze them as many at a time as I can
  • keep the flour in the bags, sealed, then
  • stack the flour in the bags in the Gamma bucket

?

clevins's picture
clevins

I agree with Dave. Once frozen, as long as its sealed, you should be fine. Then the only issue is rancidity, i.e. temp and oxygen. For temp, once you've frozen them you can also just store bags in the fridge if you're concerned that tub storage at room temp will be too warm.

Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Thanks, clevins. I have several plans, as you can see - thanks to all the help given here. Space will be the issue, I think. Ready to experiment, and - if necessary - compromise.