By Sheela Prakask, Epicurious
Flour seems like something that should be easy to store. Drag one of those heavy bags home from the grocery store, tuck it away in your pantry, and you’re done until you need to bake, right?
Unfortunately, no. All types of flour—whether all-purpose, whole wheat, or something in-between—is susceptible not only to going rancid over time, but also attracting unwelcome critters called weevils. No matter how clean your kitchen may be.
Here’s how to prevent both:
ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED
Don’t be tempted by sales—try to only buy as much flour as you think you can use over the coming few weeks. Flour attracts moisture, which means it can go rancid pretty quickly. If you can, seek out the bulk bins at the grocery store so you only buy what you really need.
DITCH THAT PAPER SACK
The easiest way to keep your flour fresh and prevent little bugs from getting in is to transfer your flour to an airtight plastic or glass container. “Bugs love food, especially healthy whole grain foods, and if they can find a way in, they’re going for it!” says Chef Sarah House of Bob’s Red Mill. She recommends a secure container to keep them from sneaking in.
FIND A COOL, DARK SPOT
Don’t leave that container out on the counter. Heat and sunlight can spoil the flour prematurely. Instead, seek out a cabinet that’s away from your oven and other hot spots in your kitchen.
Related: The 57 Best Cooking Tips of All Time
OR EVEN BETTER, CHILL IT
If you did happen to buy more flour than you can use up in a few weeks, make room in your fridge or freezer. “Whole grain products, from grains to flours, do even better in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or freezer, which will also prolong the shelf-life,” says Sarah. Flour can keep for up to a year if stored this way.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF CNP MONTROSE