If, when you're spring cleaning your kitchen cupboards this year, you come across a box of almond flour stashed at the back, you'll probably wonder how long it's been there and whether or not it's still okay to use.
Well, luckily, you've come to the right place, and I can tell you all the things you need to know about almond flour, how long you can keep it for, and whether or not it's still safe to eat.
Understanding when it's come time to dispose of certain foods can be a tricky business, even more so when we are talking about dry goods.
But all is not lost. Most store-bought pre-packaged products are labeled with both "best by" and "use by" dates to which you can always revert.
The foodsafety.gov website has a "Foodkeeper" section on it in which you can find out lots of helpful information about storing different foodstuffs. You can download it as a free app for Android and iOS handhelds to refer to as and when you have the need.
Does almond flour go bad?
Almond flour is made from nuts, and nuts have a high oil content. It makes them prone to spoiling, which can happen easily once they've been ground and exposed to oxygen.
It can advance spoiling, leading to a sour smell and taste. The same thing, for the same reasons, can occur with coconut and whole grain flours.
On the other hand, white flour does not contain these oils, but because these different varieties do (and I include almond flour in this), they will eventually go off.
While scanning the Bob's Red Mill website, I read up on almond flour and discovered that it could last for up to 4 or five months after its "sell by" date, providing it is kept in an airtight container fridge or freezer.
However, to obtain the best results from it, I recommend using almond flour immediately after opening the pack.
If you have any leftover, I suggest keeping the remainder in an airtight container and storing it in a dark, dry location where it'll be okay for a few weeks.
Alternatively, you can package and seal the remains tightly and store them in your freezer for up to 3 months.
How to store almond flour
Bearing in mind that all almond flour is ground almonds and little else, it will turn rancid much more rapidly than grain flour.
It is recommended to store it in your fridge or freezer and using it quite quickly. Don't store it for longer than a few weeks.
1 Storing in the pantry
If you have an unopened pack of almond flour, it's okay to store it in your pantry. It will be quite safe as long as you keep it away from any heat or light sources.
If you don't have a pantry, a kitchen cabinet will be fine as long as, once again, it is remote from any sources of heat or light.
Once you open a pack of almond flour, you need to ensure you close it again after you've finished using it.
Once it has been opened, bearing in mind its propensity to go off quite quickly, I suggest storing it in your fridge.
Reasons for re-sealing and storing quickly
The reasons I suggest closing the pack after each use and storing it away as quickly as possible are twofold:
- In the first place, almond flour tends to attract bugs or so-called "pantry pests."
- Secondly, keeping almond flour in your fridge helps to keep it fresh.
2 The best way to store almond flour in your fridge
A fridge is an excellent place in which to keep almond flour once the pack has been opened. It's a good way of extending the product's shelf life.
However, before you store it away in your fridge, I suggest that you transfer it into an airtight container.
Cool temperatures tend to draw moisture into a product, and flour can cause it to clump.
Don't forget after use; you need to seal the container again tightly and place it back into the refrigerator.
Is it safe to freeze almond flour?
Yes, it's quite safe to freeze almond flour. When packaged correctly, it will keep in your freezer almost indefinitely.
Bearing in mind that freezing powdered products is not the easiest thing, I suggest initially freezing just a small amount.
If that works okay, then carry on and freeze the rest; if not, you may need to make a little bit of trial and error.
Depending on where you buy it, almond flour is often sold in sealed plastic packs, so when it comes to freezing, you don't need to do anything, just throw it straight in.
However, when it's been opened, it's best to transfer the pack's contents into a Ziploc freezer bag. I usually double wrapped it to protect the consistency and texture of the product during freezing.
Before you pop your almond flour into the freezer, I recommend letting it sit out until the product reaches room temperature. It's the best way of preventing clumping.
How long is almond flour good for?
According to an article on the David Levobitz website, the shelf life of almond flour lasts for approximately one year. If you want to go by the book, you can refer to the "best by" date on the packet's label and bin it once it gets there.
But to be honest, if you were going to do that, you probably wouldn't be reading this article now, would you?
So, initially, let me reassure you that an unopened pack of almond flour will be good for several months after its "best by date" if kept in your pantry.
Storing it in your fridge will enable it to remain good even longer, providing it's well sealed, and if you freeze it, it will remain safe to use almost indefinitely.
However, please always bear in mind that the shorter the storage period and the more ideal the storage conditions, the better it's quality.
The only proviso I would mention is that you should live in a warm climate, then the sooner you refrigerate or freeze your almond flour, the better.
Storing an opened package
Once you've opened a pack of almond flour, the time for which you can safely store it depends somewhat on how long before you next expect to use it.
If your next and anticipated usage date is before the "use by" date on the label, then you should be okay to store it at room temperature.
If, on the other hand, you intend to keep it around past that "use by" date, you ought to refrigerate or freeze it.
Referring back to our old friend Bob, the Red Mill man, when you're talking about gluten-free flour, you should refrigerate it as soon as possible to maintain its quality.
As I mentioned earlier, freezing this sort of flour can be a little more tricky, and it's crucial to allow it to reach room temperature before freezing it to avoid clumping.
The powder itself will not freeze; however, you should let it get back to room temperature before using it. I recommend taking as much flour as you intend to use out of the freezer about one hour before you anticipate using it.
How to tell if almond flour is bad?
It's quite simple to ascertain whether or not almond flour has gone off. It will have a nice, nutty aroma and a loose texture when it's still fresh and safe to use. Color-wise, it should be beige or cream.
- When almond flour goes off, it will acquire a slightly rancid smell.
- Also, the color with change, and it may become clumpy. Any of these changes could indicate your flour has gone off.
If you spot any bluish-green mold growth, you'll know beyond doubt the powder has turned. Dump it straight away.
Another thing to be aware of is those nasty little pantry pests I mentioned before.
Nut-based flours have a tendency to attract insects, and even if the flour looks and smells okay to use, the fact that it has insects in it, to my mind, says throw it out.
It's a good idea to keep your almond flour in a plastic or glass container and write a label on it stating what is in the jar and when you bought it.
It's a little aid that will help track the age of the flour and assist you in keeping a check on its freshness as time evolves.
Steps to follow when judging the flour's freshness.
1 The nose test.
Refined flours like all-purpose, pastry, and self-raising flour, will keep fresh for as long as two years.
When they do go off, they will emit a sour smell. So before using, take a whiff and trust your senses.
2 The taste test.
Flours made from things like almonds, flax, hemp, and seeds will acquire a burnt or bitter taste when they turn.
Wholegrain flours such as those made from barley, spelt, and wheat tends to spoil that much more quickly.
They have a shelf-life of between 3 to 6 months. It is recommended to store them in your fridge and checking the "use by" date before using them.
If they take on a strange odor in the meantime, it's best to throw them away.
One other thing to advise you on is not to mix old and new packs of flour. If you do, you will end up shortening the shelf-life of the newer ones.
From what is almond flour made?
It might be a silly question, but one that needs answering, almond flour, is made from ground almonds.
The almonds have been blanched, skinned, and ground. The result is a pale-colored product with a mild flavor. You ditched the risk of any bitterness with the skins.
Almond meal is a different product. Although it too is made with ground raw almonds, these have had their skin left on.
With the popularity of various diets such as gluten-free, keto, and paleo, plus other specialty diets, the demand for a broader range of flours, including almond, has increased substantially.
That's the reason why you'll find most varieties in stock on the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets.
It's always tempting to buy shop-bought products because of their convenience.
However, when it comes to nuts, they tend to spoil more rapidly, which is why it makes sense to make things like the almond meal at home. It's relatively easy to do.
Making your own ground almonds
Almond meal, almond flour, and ground almonds are essentially one of the same things.
Depending on the country you live in, you might find that the almond products on sale have been ground complete with their skins. Don't worry; they will still work in most recipes.
If you decide to grind your own almonds, it is essential to ensure that you don't overwork them in your food processor.
If you do, you will extract all the oil from them, and the finished product from the recipe you're following may have something of a greasy feel.
Here are the steps to follow:
Use almonds that have been blanched and skinned. They are often branded as slivered almonds. If you prefer, you can buy them whole, and blanch and peel them yourself.
Please note that each ounce of whole almonds will produce approximately ¼ of a cup of almond flour.
if you're using free blanched and skinned almonds, then you can skip to "step six".
To blanch and peel almonds, you will need to boil a large pot of water and once the water is boiling, carefully pour in the almonds.
Boil for approximately 60 seconds.
Drain away the hot water and put the almonds under the cold tap until they are cool enough to handle. The skins will slip off nice and easily. Once peeled, discard the skins.
Lay a few sheets of paper kitchen towel on a working surface. Transfer the almonds onto the paper and allow them to dry. They will need several hours to dry thoroughly, and I recommend leaving them overnight.
Transfer the dried almonds into a food processor, or if you prefer, an electric coffee bean grinder.
Pulse repeatedly until you achieve a texture similar to that of cornmeal. If using whole almonds, the process will take much longer. Just be careful to keep an eye on the process to achieve the desired results.
Transfer the ground almond into a sifter and sift through into a bowl. If you're left with any large pieces, return them to the grinder and re-pulse.
I find that it's best to freeze the almonds before they are ground. It helps to prevent overprocessing them and ending up with butter rather than a meal.
In many baking recipes, you can switch a portion of wheat flour for almond flour.
When it comes to gluten-free recipes, you can swap almond flour for wheat flour entirely, especially in treats like nut bars and cookies, which don't need gluten to provide the texture in the same way that bread does.
The texture of almond flour will never be as fine as that of wheat flour. If you try and overprocess the almonds, you'll end up with almond butter, so don't go beyond grinding it into a fine sand-like texture.
What does almond flour taste like?
Almond flour tastes almonds, of course. However, because they've been blanched, the almond taste is rather subtle. It doesn't stand up and kick you in the face, but it's still there.
A good way of describing it is to add a slightly nutty note to whatever recipe you're using it in. When it's the main ingredient, the almond flavor is, of course, more noticeable.
Whereas you should not eat raw flour milled from grains, eating raw almond flour is not a problem.
Limitations of almond flour
Bearing in mind almond flour is a gluten-free product, you cannot use it the same way as wheat flour. Gluten is the thing in wheat flour that gives bread and bread-like products their structure.
Shopping for almond flour
If you want to buy store-bought almond flour, you'll find it amongst the specialty flours in most grocery stores, natural food stores, and supermarkets. You can also buy it over the Internet.
The nutritional benefits of almond flour
¼ of a cup of almond flour contains approximately 160 calories plus 6 grams of protein. It also has 14 grams of fat, so bear that in mind if you're on a fat-free diet.
The skins of almonds contain healthy antioxidants. That may change your view on using whole almonds with their skin intact to take advantage of this particular health benefit.
Blanched almond meal vs natural almond meal
A blanched meal is just almonds with their skins peeled and ground into a coarse flour or meal.
A natural meal is unblanched and made from whole almonds, complete with their skins.
As far as their nutritional makeup is concerned, the only notable difference is that the natural version contains a little more vitamin E.
Performance-wise, they are identical concerning baking.
There is a difference in appearance. The natural variation is speckled due to the bits of skin it contains, whereas the blanched variation is an un-speckled and creamy tan color.
The difference between almond meals and flour
Although I said earlier that ground almonds, almond meal, and almond flour are all the same thing, that was a little bit of a generalization.
The chief difference between meal and flour is the grind. Flour is ground more finely, while the meal is slightly coarser.
Sometimes, the meal is made using whole almonds, while the flour is made using peeled almonds.
A quick masterclass on grinding.
- Flour is ground to the finest texture.
- A meal is next in terms of texture. It is coarser than flour though finer than grits.
In comparison to wheat flour, almond flour is more coarse. It's understandable. Grind almonds too finely, and you'll end up with almond butter.
Is almond meal the same thing as almond flour?
In a word, yes. As indicated above, the meal is slightly more coarse than the flour, but they are interchangeable to all intents and purposes.
Can almond meal be substituted for almond flour?
At the risk of repeating myself, yes, they are interchangeable, bearing in mind the slight textural difference.
However, you should bear in mind that the finer the grind and the closer it is to wheat flour, the better it will be when baking.
The coarser it is, the better when using as a flour substitute in bread, et cetera. If you're looking for gluten-free products, almond flour is the way to go.
Why use almond flour or meal?
Similarly to hazelnut meal, there are several reasons you might choose an almond meal or flour depending on:
If you're a baker searching for a decadent touch to your baked products, the use of an almond product will give you a finer tasting final product.
If you are following a gluten-free diet and searching for a way to increase the nutritional content of baked products.
If you're on a low-carb diet or similar for weight loss or diabetes management purposes, almond flour has a lower carb content and contains more fiber and healthy fats.
In what does almond flour excel best?
Almond flour is great for adding taste and consistency and is essential for those on a paleo diet. You can use it in bread, cakes, cookies, pancakes, and pie crusts.
Almond flour also works brilliantly in some savory dishes, such as meatballs, when using it as a substitute for breadcrumbs. The same can be said as a breadcrumbed fish or chicken substitute.