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Author Topic: How to tell when flour goes bad?  (Read 2887 times)

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Offline bradtri

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How to tell when flour goes bad?
« on: March 07, 2017, 09:58:07 AM »
I'm losing my source for GM Neapolitan flour, so I'm going to stock up on 10 bags for now that will probably last me throughout the summer.  I don't have any cold storage available for that amount of flour. 

What would be the typical life expectancy from the manufacture date if the flour is left in the original bags and stored at room temperature?

How do I tell when the flour is going bad?  (I don't have that great of sense of smell.) 

Will there just be a slow decline in the quality of my pizzas?  What symptoms should I watch for?

Is there anything I can do to offset the symptoms of the flour starting to go bad?  Or, just chuck it at that point?
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 10:05:20 AM »
How do I tell when the flour is going bad?

I caught a bag of Caputo malting itself with the pure, uncut 200L stuff. When it saw me, it pulled a knife.
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Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 10:12:40 AM »
I caught a bag of Caputo malting itself with the pure, uncut 200L stuff. When it saw me, it pulled a knife.

Did it still make good pizza?
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 10:50:47 AM »
No. It wasn't very smart bringing a knife to a gunfight.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline parallei

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 11:05:00 AM »
bradtri  -

This doesn't address your question, because I don't have a clue!

That said, have you tried Bay City Milling Contadino 00?  Maybe it would be easier to get, but I don't know that either.  I like it, but then I'm not as experienced as some.  They sent me a 50 lb sample (for home use!) a few months back and I'm sure they'd do the same for you.  I busted down my sample and it has been in the freezer.  PM me if you'd like me to send you 5 lbs.

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Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2017, 12:19:44 PM »
bradtri  -

This doesn't address your question, because I don't have a clue!

That said, have you tried Bay City Milling Contadino 00?  Maybe it would be easier to get, but I don't know that either.  I like it, but then I'm not as experienced as some.  They sent me a 50 lb sample (for home use!) a few months back and I'm sure they'd do the same for you.  I busted down my sample and it has been in the freezer.  PM me if you'd like me to send you 5 lbs.

Thanks Parallei - I got a sample from them a couple years ago and thought it was good stuff.  My problem is in finding a supplier here in Nebraska.  Since I'm starting up the catering business, I'm going to need 10-20 50# bags/year I'd guess, but most everybody wants enough commitment to order a whole pallet of 50 bags.

From what I've been googling, there are various opinions on shelf life depending on several variables .... so the answer is probably going to be, "it's good until it's not".     ;)

On a tangential note ... I contacted Restaurant Depot in KC and they have GM Neapolitan.  I thought I could drive down every 2-3 months to replenish my supply.

However, they told me that if I don't use my account at least once/month, they'll cancel it.  Anybody else aware of this as normal policy for RD?



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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 01:16:17 PM »
How to tell when flour has gone bad 101:
1) It appears to clump. Those clumps are caused by insect webs (Indian Meal Moth).
2) It has dark colored specks in it. (Confused Flour Beetles or Cigarette Beetles)
3) You see what appears to be grains of rice in the flour. (These are insect larvae aka "worms)
4) You see very small holes in the bag, especially immediately above the upper most flour level. (These are due to all or any of the above).
5) Off aroma either due to development of rancidity or exposure to "other" aromatics. (like uncovered butter in the fridge).
Most flours will remain insect free for up to about a year if stored in such a way so as to prevent insects from getting into the flour. (a sealed metal container is the best way to store flour).
For long term flour storage refrigerate it or better yet, freeze it.
If you don't have the refrigerated or freezer space this is a proven method for storing flour for over a year: Place the flour in your freezer (you can do this in small lots if space is an issue) and leave it in the freezer for 6-weeks, then transfer to a metal container that has a tight fitting lid. Flour has been known to be stored for several years in this manner.
If long term stored flour as good as freshly milled flour? It all depends upon the application and your sensory sensitivity. It will function normally in making dough, possibly even better due to the fact that the flour has most likely oxidized to some extent which can make the flour show signs of increased strength, especially during mixing and balling. From a sensory standpoint some will argue that the finished product doesn't have the same flavor as when made from freshly milled flour. This is true, but the question is: is the taste difference perceptible when used in making pizza with all of the other flavors and aromas present? This is a personal thing that you will need to decide for yourself.
Back to #1, 2 and 3 above, these are not considered to be dangerous from a health standpoint, not appetizing, but not dangerous, think of it as added protein. In some cultures this added protein is a very important part of their diets. Also, in my training I was taught to always look at the inside of the bag, just above the flour to see if there was any signs of insects as this is where they tend to collect. What you do with the flour after finding insects is up to you, if you sift them out you will only get the adult insects and larvae but you cannot sift the eggs out so the problem will return very quickly as the eggs hatch. This is why it is usually recommended that the flour be disposed of if insect presence is noted, plus, they are adventuresome so you can also expect to find them exploring for new territories and setting up house keeping in any number of other food item you might have in close proximity (cake and pancake mixes are a very popular item....take it from someone with first hand experience.
Lastly, where did all those insects come from? They can come from the flour mill, usually in the form of eggs, but today this is a rare occurrance, a much more likely source of introduction comes from the place where the flour is being warehoused or from the store where you bought the flour at, and yes, even from our own homes if we do not regularly inspect the place where we store our flour and/or mixes at.
By the way, if you see mold growing on the flour (more common in humid environments), regardless of the color of the mold, it's best to not take any chances and discard the flour.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor 

Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 01:44:38 PM »
How to tell when flour has gone bad 101:
1) It appears to clump. Those clumps are caused by insect webs (Indian Meal Moth).
2) It has dark colored specks in it. (Confused Flour Beetles or Cigarette Beetles)
3) You see what appears to be grains of rice in the flour. (These are insect larvae aka "worms)
4) You see very small holes in the bag, especially immediately above the upper most flour level. (These are due to all or any of the above).
5) Off aroma either due to development of rancidity or exposure to "other" aromatics. (like uncovered butter in the fridge).
Most flours will remain insect free for up to about a year if stored in such a way so as to prevent insects from getting into the flour. (a sealed metal container is the best way to store flour).
For long term flour storage refrigerate it or better yet, freeze it.
If you don't have the refrigerated or freezer space this is a proven method for storing flour for over a year: Place the flour in your freezer (you can do this in small lots if space is an issue) and leave it in the freezer for 6-weeks, then transfer to a metal container that has a tight fitting lid. Flour has been known to be stored for several years in this manner.
If long term stored flour as good as freshly milled flour? It all depends upon the application and your sensory sensitivity. It will function normally in making dough, possibly even better due to the fact that the flour has most likely oxidized to some extent which can make the flour show signs of increased strength, especially during mixing and balling. From a sensory standpoint some will argue that the finished product doesn't have the same flavor as when made from freshly milled flour. This is true, but the question is: is the taste difference perceptible when used in making pizza with all of the other flavors and aromas present? This is a personal thing that you will need to decide for yourself.
Back to #1, 2 and 3 above, these are not considered to be dangerous from a health standpoint, not appetizing, but not dangerous, think of it as added protein. In some cultures this added protein is a very important part of their diets. Also, in my training I was taught to always look at the inside of the bag, just above the flour to see if there was any signs of insects as this is where they tend to collect. What you do with the flour after finding insects is up to you, if you sift them out you will only get the adult insects and larvae but you cannot sift the eggs out so the problem will return very quickly as the eggs hatch. This is why it is usually recommended that the flour be disposed of if insect presence is noted, plus, they are adventuresome so you can also expect to find them exploring for new territories and setting up house keeping in any number of other food item you might have in close proximity (cake and pancake mixes are a very popular item....take it from someone with first hand experience.
Lastly, where did all those insects come from? They can come from the flour mill, usually in the form of eggs, but today this is a rare occurrance, a much more likely source of introduction comes from the place where the flour is being warehoused or from the store where you bought the flour at, and yes, even from our own homes if we do not regularly inspect the place where we store our flour and/or mixes at.
By the way, if you see mold growing on the flour (more common in humid environments), regardless of the color of the mold, it's best to not take any chances and discard the flour.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Dr. Tom - Thank you again for the wealth of information.  I don't have metal containers, but I have been buying NSF - food safe 5 gallon plastic buckets from the local Lowes.  Would those work just as well as metal?   

If so, then putting all my flour into buckets and then cycling through the freezer would be my best option?
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Offline vtsteve

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2017, 02:26:09 PM »
If you keep it cool/dry/bug-free, it should be good for a year at RT. It's 1.37 cu. ft. per bag, 20 bags/pallet; if you've got room, find a couple chest freezers on craigslist and there's your pallet storage. Toss some dry ice in for CO2, for good measure.   ;D


On a tangential note ... I contacted Restaurant Depot in KC and they have GM Neapolitan.  I thought I could drive down every 2-3 months to replenish my supply.

However, they told me that if I don't use my account at least once/month, they'll cancel it.  Anybody else aware of this as normal policy for RD?

Isn't RD free membership? Aside from the hassle of doing paperwork every 3 months...

You could do the $35/yr. KCBS and get a "day pass" on restock day.
In grams we trust.
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Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2017, 02:42:08 PM »
Bradtri;
Yep, those buckets will work just fine. I should have mentioned them in my response. If they have the usual snap-on lid you would be well advised to get a de-lidder (tool for removing those hard to remove lids).
A few years ago I bought a new small chest freezer from Menard's (just over $100.00)  for storing ingredients in. I try to maintain at least 50-pounds of flour in the freezer packaged in metal cans (used to have popcorn in them). I use a plastic bag for a liner in the cans and remove what I need from the freezer to keep the kitchen supplied in flour. Never had a problem, but come to think of it, those metal can lids aren't so easy to open either, and there isn't a tool made to make opening them any easier.
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Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2017, 02:52:14 PM »
Isn't RD free membership? Aside from the hassle of doing paperwork every 3 months...

You could do the $35/yr. KCBS and get a "day pass" on restock day.

I wasn't sure if they'd let me keep creating a new membership each time I came down ... sure seems like it'd be easier to at least let the membership ride for 3 months .

Is the KCBS the Barbecue society?  Just sign up for that and then they'll let me in as a "day pass"??
« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 03:33:56 PM by bradtri »
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Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2017, 03:35:52 PM »
btw, the 5 gallon plastic buckets work great as a 50# bag of flour will exactly fit into two buckets.

They sell easy on/off lids these days that one doesn't need to use a tool.
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"Let Us Bring A Taste of Naples To Your Next Party"

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2017, 03:48:50 PM »
Thanks for the easy on and off tip. Maybe it's time to think about retiring my metal cans. With the plastic buckets there wouldn't be an urgent need to use a plastic bag as a liner either. Just goes to show ya, you're never too old to learn something new!  :)
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 04:12:28 PM »
On a tangential note ... I contacted Restaurant Depot in KC and they have GM Neapolitan.  I thought I could drive down every 2-3 months to replenish my supply.

However, they told me that if I don't use my account at least once/month, they'll cancel it.  Anybody else aware of this as normal policy for RD?

I've definitely gone a lot longer than a month without using mine, and I've not been cancelled nor have I ever had to do any paperwork after joining.
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Offline parallei

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2017, 06:31:46 PM »
Thanks Parallei - I got a sample from them a couple years ago and thought it was good stuff.  My problem is in finding a supplier here in Nebraska.......

One last suggestion, then I'll shut the hell up.

Bay City Milling has a mill in Northern Colorado.  My late wife and I drove up there from Denver once to get some of their High Gluten organic flour.  I doubt they mill the 00 there, but maybe it would be worth a call to see if they can ship it there.  On the other hand, KC would be a much funner place to visit!

Hope to try your pies one day.....

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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2017, 07:36:41 PM »
Sometime your pizza guests can tell you if the flour went bad.

Peter

Offline parallei

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2017, 07:44:34 PM »
Sometime your pizza guests can tell you if the flour went bad.

Peter

I'd guess that very few could tell. :'(

Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2017, 08:12:42 PM »


Hope to try your pies one day.....

If you're ever in Omaha,  you've got lots of free pizza waiting for you!!
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Offline AndyBern

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2017, 10:25:44 PM »
Making 1-2 pizzas avg per week, a #50 bag for me last about 8 months. I split the flour up into 3 kitchen trash bags with the tops twisted shut and put those bags in some cheap plastic hanging folder containers I found at Family Dollar. The flour stays good at RT until it's gone.

Offline bradtri

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Re: How to tell when flour goes bad?
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2017, 11:12:35 AM »
Making 1-2 pizzas avg per week, a #50 bag for me last about 8 months. I split the flour up into 3 kitchen trash bags with the tops twisted shut and put those bags in some cheap plastic hanging folder containers I found at Family Dollar. The flour stays good at RT until it's gone.

Thanks for the time frame report.

I avoid using non-foodsafe plastics for the storage of food, especially if I'm going to be serving/selling to the public.
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