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Mrs. M.

Do gluten-free Flours Really Need To Be Refrigerated?

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I just noticed on the labels of all my gluten-free flours and xantham gum that they should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Is this necessary if I use up the flour relatively quickly? The bags of flour are all so small that it seems like it will be easy to go through them pretty fast. We have a cool pantry and our house stays pretty cool all year. Our refrigerator and freezer are already full without any flour inside.

thanks!

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Several cookbooks discuss this, and it's been awhile since I read specifically about the subject, but the only ones I keep in the refrigerator are brown rice and almond flour (and mixes containing them). And I keep potato flour in the freezer since I use so little at a time. I do bake a lot, but I keep the rest of my flours/starches in the pantry: white rice, sticky white rice, tapioca, potato starch, sorghum and also Xanthan gum. The only stuff I ever had a problem with going rancid was soy flour, and I quit using it long ago.

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Whole grain flours with the endosperm like brown rice, millet, or buckwheat have delicate natural oils that will oxidize at room temperature. I handle them the way I used to store whole wheat, sealed well and either refrigerated or frozen. I have had a lot of trouble with brown rice flour in particular going rancid. I keep highly refined starches like corn starch, potato starch, white rice flour, or tapioca in the pantry. I keep xanthan gum in the pantry too.

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Depends on your climate- if I'm paying all this money for this gluten free stuff, I want to keep it from going buggy or rancid, and in warmer climates that means refrigeration or freezing for stuff not being used quickly, especially if it is the specialty stuff like nuts.

We also, because of our whacked out weather the past year, have had a ferocious attempted invasion of ants in the late summer/fall. Good grief, at least the gluten free stuff is safe in the freezer, I know where the Star Trek writers got their idea for the Borg collective after watching this. :ph34r:

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My 20+ kinds of flours are stored in the freezer (except white rice flour) and my starches are stored in my pantry (i.e. tapioca, corn, arrowroot, potato, etc.). Some of my flours are used less frequently, especially chestnut and sweet potato flours. So, into the freezer they go! I, too, have read countless articles on storage and agree with Skylark that those wholegrain with endosperm should definitely be kept frozen. It makes sense from a food science point of view.

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I've never refrigerated my gluten-free flours (which I buy in bulk), and they've been fine.

I do store them in sealed hard plastic food containers (I bought mine at Sam's Club). That keeps creepie-crawlies and humidity out, and they also stack very nicely.

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I have Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour and it doesn't say anywhere on the package to refrigerate it. I have kept in the cupboard. Should I refrigerate it?

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I generally freeze flours which won't be used up within a short period of time, like about a month or two at most. Especially those with a high protein content, such as bean flours, teff, amaranth, etc. Soy also has a high protein content, though I generally don't buy that one. The gums I keep at room temp.

Same with whole grains - they will spoil at room temp much faster than refined starches.

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I keep it in Tupperware containers in the pantry, but it never lasts more than a week or 2 here anyway.

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Can anyone please tell me, how would I know if my flour is spoiled from being unrefrigerated? I want to use it to make banana bread tomorrow. How would I know if it's OK? And would it actually be harmful if it's spoiled, or would it just taste bad?

My flour is Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour which has been in my cupboard for a good month or so. The bag has been opened, but clipped tightly at the top. It is made from garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour.

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Can anyone please tell me, how would I know if my flour is spoiled from being unrefrigerated? I want to use it to make banana bread tomorrow. How would I know if it's OK? And would it actually be harmful if it's spoiled, or would it just taste bad?

My flour is Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour which has been in my cupboard for a good month or so. The bag has been opened, but clipped tightly at the top. It is made from garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour.

Well, I haven't tested gluten-free flours like this...but for wheat flours I'd just taste a bit of raw flour - if it tastes bad (sour, bitter) it's rancid.

I honestly have NO idea what all the gluten-free flours should taste like - I'd use the same guideline. To me, most rice blends taste like "nothing", so I'd be suspicious a mix had a strong taste. Bean and pea flours are supposed to have a stronger flavor, so I have no idea there.

Just an FYI let your flours come to room temp before using them. It does make a difference in the result.

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BeFree, what does the flour smell like? I think you could detect if it had a rancid smell.

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Can anyone please tell me, how would I know if my flour is spoiled from being unrefrigerated? I want to use it to make banana bread tomorrow. How would I know if it's OK? And would it actually be harmful if it's spoiled, or would it just taste bad?

My flour is Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour which has been in my cupboard for a good month or so. The bag has been opened, but clipped tightly at the top. It is made from garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour.

Although I've never had a bean flour from Bob's Red Mill that wasn't rancid even when the freshness date couldn't be any farther out, one month shouldn't be too bad. There could be some degradation if the flour had been sitting in the store a long time before you purchased it however. Since bean flours don't generally taste so nice when raw, and neither do they typically smell so great, those indicators may not be of value. Especially if you're unfamiliar with the flours in question. Since some of the mix is starch, that should help extend the shelf life somewhat.

Best I can say, is consider the date on the package. Under ideal conditions, I'd personally be comfortable using the flour for between 2-3 months at room temp. So as long as the bag wasn't exposed to light or elevated temperatures for prolonged time periods, and it was properly closed with as little air as possible, I think it should still be ok.

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Just an FYI let your flours come to room temp before using them. It does make a difference in the result.

Thanks for reminding me!

It is important to allow packages/containers of flour to reach room temp before opening them. This is because cold flour will cause moisture from the air to condense on it, as well as on the inside of the container. Just like a cold drink gets water condensation on the glass. The moisture will of course accelerate spoilage tremendously.

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Thank you, this makes sense. My conclusion from all of your input is that like most other foods, it should not have some sort of extremely offensive odor or taste if it's still fresh. When I taste the raw flour it does not taste *great* obviously, since it's raw flour, but it doesn't taste what I would guess to be sour, and it has no strong smell.

Does anyone know though, if I accidentally eat something with spoiled flour, will that hurt me or just taste bad?

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Oxidized fatty acids aren't terribly healthy to eat (which is why you perceive them as rancid) but usually the flour will have an "off" taste/smell when it starts to spoil.

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Can we still post on this? Apparently so.

I made lovely chocolate cupcakes for Valentine's Day, but hadn't baked much since last summer. Something went bad, but I'm not sure what. At first I thought it was the potato starch, then wondered if it was the tapioca. Could it have been the xanthan gum. Oh, dear. Have been keeping them all in the pantry after reading this thread--previously in the refrigerator.

Should I just throw them all away? I also keep my white rice flour in the pantry, but used a new bag, so it probably wasn't that.

Missed a day of work over this, so I may just throw out all of the above. Also, gave some to my next door neighbor who had just had surgery and she was up all night with the big D (she's not a gluten-freerer, but loves my cooking or LOVED, before this).

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While they may keep better refrigerated, we store them in air-tight containers at room temperature. Be sure that they are truly air-tight. Tupperware and Oxo Good Grip are--Glad and Ziploc are not 100%.

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While they may keep better refrigerated, we store them in air-tight containers at room temperature. Be sure that they are truly air-tight. Tupperware and Oxo Good Grip are--Glad and Ziploc are not 100%.

I just spent the kids inheritance at Bed, Bath & Beyond to get some of those Oxo things for my flours. I do keep the almond in the freezer. I think that can go bad easier, but I don't have any evidence.

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Since I don't know where to get Tupperware, OXO it is! I was just folding the tops over three or four times tightly (I thought) and securing them with a clip.

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I've never put any of my flours in the fridge, but then again I've always ignored that my peanut butter jar says to put it in the fridge too. Though, I agree that soy flour is just not worth having since it does seem to go rancid quickly (and then subsequently ruins what ever you accidentally put it in). But, unless you are planning to take several months to use a certain flour, I wouldn't worry to much. But since most gluten-free flours comes in such small quanities, it usually isn't a problem. That was one of the hardest things to adjust to about going gluten free. I was used to paying $15 for a 50 pound bag of whole wheat flour. And now it cost $10 for a less than 2 pound bag of Quinoa flour.

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The real answer here, for me, is I'm going back to putting Tapioca, potato starch, and xanthan gum back in the refrigerator where they never went bad, for me at least.

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