If you've been baking a lot recently, you might have asked yourself if you can freeze your flour, and, more importantly, if you actually should. We've all seen the gorgeous pictures of kitchen counters with neatly lined up jars of flour and other dry ingredients, but according to experts, it's actually better to keep your flour in the freezer to avoid spoilage, especially if you're planning on keeping it for a long time.
Flour manufacturer King Arthur Flour recommends storing flour in airtight containers in the freezer, since flour is best stored in cold, dark places. "The colder and darker the storage environment, the better whole grain flour will keep," their website reads. "Warmth and light increase the rate of oxidation, so freezer storage is ideal. For best results, place flour as far away from the freezer door as possible, to avoid incidental kitchen light and warmth." The brand also adds: "Expect a shelf life of up to six months for whole grain flour stored in the freezer."
The science behind this is pretty simple. Cold, dark storage helps slow the oxidation process, which is what makes flour go stale and eventually spoil. This is particularly true for whole grain flours, according to King Arthur Flour, because they often contain small amounts of wheat germ and/or oils disrupted during the milling process, and those are the elements that "go bad" when they oxidize. Ditto for nut-based flours like almond flour, since those have an even higher oil content and actually do need to be stored in the freezer. White flour lacks the germ content of wheat flours, but it's still perfectly fine to freeze, and freezing it will absolutely help keep it fresh and usable longer than if it's stored at room temperature on the counter.
Is it okay to bake with flour that's still cold from being frozen? You totally can — just be aware that it may change the time needed on some recipes. Kitchn points out that "bread doughs made with cold flour can take longer to rise," so it's best to measure out the flour and let it sit on the counter while you prep the rest of the recipe, rather than going straight from the frozen container into the mixture. Other than that, though, freezing flour has plenty of benefits and no real downsides, so freeze away!