Whole wheat gone bad?


This seems like one of those no-brainer questions, but...How can you tell if whole wheat flour has gone bad? I have a large bag that was given to me. I don't know how old it is, it is clean, but I know it can go rancid. Is there an easy way to tell? Thanks, Kathi

badge posted by: kathiann on February 17, 2011 at 11:02 am in Q & A
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reply by: pjh on February 17, 2011 at 11:22 am

Kathi, what's "no brainer" for some will be "Hmmm, I didn't know that!" for others. So never hesitate to ask - you'll surely get an answer!

Whole wheat doesn't go bad, in that it would make you ill; it simply gets old and doesn't taste good. The way I check to see if whole wheat is OK to use is simply to taste it. Put a big pinch on your tongue, and wait 10 seconds or so. Do you get a very bitter taste in your mouth? That same flavor will come through in your baking, so best not to use it.

reply by: MomOfFourKidsTwoDogs on March 06, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Super helpful -- stuck in a snow storm with expired wheat flour and no way to get to the store -- thanks for this post. My kids and I tasted nothing unusual so we proceeded with our quick bread recipe :) -- thanks for asking and answering this question, we are so far so good!

reply by: KAF_Keri on March 06, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I find that rancid whole wheat flour will often smell like playdough. Good whole wheat flour shouldn't really smell like much at all.


reply by: sarahh on March 06, 2013 at 2:29 pm

To me, rancid whole wheat flour smells sour, bitter and very strong. Fresh whole wheat flour smells slightly grainy or like nothing much at all.

As an aside, all-purpose flour can go off too. My mother-in-law lives in Florida and doesn't bake much at all. One year we made a coffee cake when we were visiting at Christmas and it was inedible. The flour smelled just like rancid whole wheat flour when we took a whiff. We had to throw out the whole cake (and the flour). She now keeps her flour in the freezer, both all-purpose and whole wheat.

reply by: luic on November 20, 2013 at 9:59 am


You are a genious!

My flour was 7 months past expiry date. It tastes bitter. The non-expired one tastes really different. So, off it went, off it goes.

Thanks for your post.