Storing Whole Grains - Bob's Red Mill Blog
Storing Whole Grains
Healthy Living on March 21, 2014 by

Storing Whole Grains

If you asked Bob how to store whole grains, he'd tell you to buy an extra fridge. Put it next to your regular fridge and fill it with all of your whole grains. Most of us don't have the ability to add an extra fridge to our lives. Even if someone gave me a free fridge and offered to pay the increase in my electrical bill, I couldn't fit a second fridge into my kitchen. Excepting those who are able to have a fridge or freezer with spare room, the rest of us are stuck scratching our heads and hoping our grains will be fine. Here's a rundown on where to store whole grains. I hope it will give you some insight and inspiration for your own kitchen and maybe free up a little room in your freezer.

Whole grains are best kept in the fridge or freezer to prevent rancidity. True. They are. This is more important when a grain has been broken up in some way, be it milled into flour, cracked into cereal, or flaked like oatmeal. Whole grains themselves (brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa, etc.) are more shelf stable that we think. Some of these grains can last many years without going rancid. That's how nature made them. Most whole grains that have been broken up in some way will last up to two years, sometimes longer, without spoiling.

Here is a quick breakdown of where to store products.

  • Whole Grains (wheat berries, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc) used once a month: room temp
  • Whole Grains used less than once a month: freezer
  • Dried Beans: room temp
  • Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used once a week: room temp
  • Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used less than once a month: fridge or freezer
  • Baking Mixes: room temp or fridge, do not freeze
  • Refined Grains, Flours and Cereals (white flour, white rice, etc): room temp
  • Items that should always be kept in the fridge or freezer: 
    • Almond Meal
    • Hazelnut Meal
    • Coconut Flour
    • Wheat Germ
    • Rice Bran
    • Flaxseed Meal (whole seeds are fine at room temp)
    • Hemp Seeds
    • Active Dry Yeast (do not freeze)

I recommend airtight containers for everything, but, at the very least, use airtight containers for things left at room temperature. Bugs love whole grains and nothing keeps a bug out quite like a mason jar. Plus, mason jars filled with whole grains and beans are very pretty and make a lovely addition to your decor. You can make your own labels like we did with the display above, or cut out labels from our bag and adhere them to your jars.

I hope this has been helpful. Do you have any insights from your kitchen on how to best store grains?


93 Comments

  1. DrGrace
    I was wondering if you could make apricot kernel meal/flour it is rich in cancer fighting vitamins b15 and b17 and not everyone can chew the kernels. Please think about it. I would love to be able to sprinkle it on the oatmeal for the elderly people I care about and even for my own family :) It is so important to get these two b vitamins back in to our natural diet :) Thank you for all you do.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Dr Grace,

      Thank you for your kind words. We have not heard of making apricot kernel meal, but we'll pass along the request. I always thought they had some negative effects, but perhaps that is peaches. We do not sell the labels, but if we do start in the future, I'll let you know. We just whipped them up for this post.
      Reply
  2. DrGrace
    P.S. I forgot to ask. do you have these wonderful jar labels for sale somewhere? I would also love to use these labels for my containers. I only use YOUR flours and beans only your brand, it would be so amazing to have labels with little instructions on the side on basic preparation :) To this day I have to keep your labels with the recipe inside my containers. These labels would help tremendously.
    Reply
    1. Marilyn Tenekjian
      Marilyn Tenekjian
      I like the idea of storing grains in mason jars as you suggest. Is it okay to store the grains in mason jars in the freezer?
      Reply
      1. Cassidy Stockton
        Marilyn,

        I would be careful storing glass jars in the freezer, but I've never had any issues with doing so.
        Reply
  3. Heidi H
    Hello

    Are the instructions for storage once the grain has been opened or just in general.

    Thank you
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      The instructions are for storing grains after opening, but if you aren't using a grain quickly and you haven't opened it, we recommend the freezer. A grain can still go bad, even if it hasn't been opened.
      Reply
  4. ap
    I picked up my first bag of your Flaxseed Meal from a grocer who had it displayed to the top shelf in the baking goods aisle rather than refrigerated. Is it probably degraded in some way? Less nutrients or harmful?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      April,

      The flax should be fine. Stores usually move through it quickly enough to keep it at room temp. If it smells sour, though, it's probably rancid.
      Reply
  5. Deirdre
    We have bought a number of your flours but three bags of them have not yet been opened. We stored them in the closet and almost forgot about them until today. They are unopened but in some cases the sell-by date has passed. Is it safe to still use them ? They are as follows:
    Quinoa Flour
    Coconut Flour
    Almond Meal Flour

    As noted, they are all unopened but we've had them stored in the cabinet for a couple months.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Deidre,

      It's possible, but you're going to have to open them and smell. Quinoa flour will smell funky anyway, but if it smells sour, don't use it. Coconut flour should have a slight, sweet coconut smell- again, if it smells sour, don't use it. Almond flour, this is the one with the highest risk of rancidity- if it smells off, don't use it. If it smells sweet and almondy- it's good to go.
      Reply
  6. David
    Our family buys your wheat germ from every week. After opening the package, we place the rest of the wheat germ in a vacuum container and vacuum out the air and place it in the refrigerator. Over a week or two we open the container six or seven times and complete the vacuuming process each time.

    Is there any risk of the wheat germ going rancid during that period?

    Is it best to keep the wheat germ in the refrigerator or freezer? Does freezing it impact nutritional benefits?

    Thanks

    Drg

    Ps we love all your products
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      David,

      There should be minimal risk of your wheat germ going rancid in that short amount of time. Storing it in the fridge should be just fine to keep it fresh.
      Reply
  7. Paula Doherty
    Cassidy,

    Could you clarify for me the "Sale By Date".....Is this to be understood to be the same as "Best By Date"?

    Paula
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Yes, the sell by date is the same as best by date.
      Reply
  8. Paula Doherty
    Cassidy,

    Does the "sell by date" mean the same as "best by date"?

    this may be duplicate sorry.

    Paula
    Reply
  9. Jessica
    Do I need to let flour come to room temperature before using to bake breads?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      It's always a good idea to let your flour come to room temp before baking.
      Reply
  10. craige
    I'm so bummed! When I moved to VA from NJ I could no longer find my favorite hot cereal (Bob's 6 grain) and so I ordered it on Amazon. As much as I love it, I don't eat it every day and when I went to open the last of the 4 bags that came in my Amazon order 6 months ago, it smelled and tasted funky. Most likely gone rancid despite the sell-by date not being until October 2016.
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Oh no! We're so sorry to hear that! Can you please call us at 800-349-2173 or email us at [email protected] so we can make it right?
      Reply
  11. Rachel McDermott
    Rachel McDermott
    We buy all of our beans from Bobs red mill and like to jar them. Any chance you can share the nice label seen in your photo?
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Rachel,

      I'm sorry, but these were just mock labels. We do not have these available to send to you. We're happy you like them, though!
      Reply
  12. Alisha
    This was such a helpful post. Anyway you could share the pdf file off your labels? I absolutely love them.
    Reply
  13. Susan H Llewellyn
    Susan H Llewellyn
    It would be more than helpful for some of us if you packaged/sold some of your specialty flours, etc., in half-pound bags'
    Reply
    1. Cassidy Stockton
      Great suggestion! Thank you!
      Reply
  14. BETTY MICHAEL
    As far as peach seeds and apricot seeds go they both have cyanide in them. I would advise that you find a different natural healthier way to get the natural b vitamins that fight cancer.
    Reply
    1. BETTY MICHAEL
      Here is more information on the apricot and peach seeds. Amygdalin, also referred to as Laetrile is in both of these pits. Some companies call this compound vitamin B17 in order to label and market the product as an esesential substance. In the body the chemical is converted to Cyanide, which is poisonous and can cause serious harm. I certainly hope you are not grinding these and giving then to any as an additive to their diet including your own. I strongly suggest that you find a better safer and healthier way to get the B17 and the other B vitamins you mentioned to help fight off cancer.
      Reply
  15. BETTY MICHAEL
    If you grind the pits of either or both peaches and or apricots and use them as an additive to your or anyone else's diet to get the natural vitamin b's that fight off cancer, you would be making a serious mistake. You will not have to wonder whether or not the b vitamins really work because the cyanide in both of these pits will finish you off. Find a better healthier way to get your natural b vitamins.
    Reply
  16. Adrianna
    Great suggestions for storing. I do keep it all in the fridge in the original packages. They stay dry & organize on the door. I buy many RM products.
    Question: why are there 2 dates stamped in package of Muesli?
    One use by date...then numbers and another date on second line.
    Thank you
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      We're so happy you enjoyed the article. The second date on your package is the packaged date.
      Reply
  17. Nia Lorre
    I am left wonder HOW LONG you can store your grains under refrigeration or freezing. Seems like an important detail to leave out.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Most of our grains can be stored for 18 to 24 months under refrigeration.
      Reply
  18. Rachel
    hi, I bought a bunch of your products and read on the packages "keep refrigerated or frozen", Kroger and Sprouts, where I purchased your products from keep the items on the shelves, are the products okay or should they have been put in the fridge section at the store? Do I need to return them because they were not in the fridge (the could have been on the shelves for months) ? (I spent $200 between the two stores these past few days on your products)
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      No, they are perfectly fine as purchased on the shelf. The refrigeration is a suggestion after you bring them home and especially after you open them. We hope that helps.
      Reply
  19. Karen Cambier
    I have an unopened bag of Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread and the sell by date is 9/21/2016. It has been in the cabinet since I bought it. Will it still work?

    Thank you,
    Karen
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Yes, it should still work. We recommend proofing your yeast to make sure it's still alive. If not, you can use your own yeast. The yeast packet in the mix contains 2 1/4tsp of active dry yeast.
      Reply
  20. ~marilyn
    This was very helpful.
    However, I asked the same question yesterday and got taken to an entirely different page where it said that the question may be answered by other consumers.
    I cannot find that page today (though now it doesn't matter).
    I tried to see what was on the blog several times, but the links appeared broken and clicking on from most pages takes you nowhere.
    I don't think it is my computer since it's pretty new, but, of course, always a possibility.
    I would suggest that you have this whole site gone over by someone to check the mapping and all the links though. My thinking is that there are several areas that need reconnecting to the whole.
    I've just tried the steel-cut oats for the first time as I've always had stone-ground before. It's not so usual to see the steel-cut here in Canada, but I (and my parrot) are really enjoying them. Great product.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Marilyn, thank you for your feedback. We have updated our sight and are currently working on the broken links. We do appreciate you taking the time to let us know this is an issue for you.
      Reply
  21. Rachael
    I just found a bag of 5-grain cereal, sell-by date of 8/2016. Never opened, has been in the cupboard. Should I just toss it? Will I know if it's bad otherwise?
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      We do not recommend using it at this point. We can't guarantee the quality.
      Reply
  22. louise
    How long can I store wheat germ in the fridge? Also how long can I store wheat germ in the freezer? Thanks
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Wheat germ is best kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, preferably the fridge or freezer. Will keep up to 12 months when stored properly.
      Reply
  23. Palak Sharma
    Hello,
    we are looking forward to buy teff, It would be a big help to know the shelf life of teff.
    Please let us know what is the shelf life of:
    - Teff Flour
    - Whole grain
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Great question Palak! Our Teff is best kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, preferably the fridge or freezer. It will keep up to 24 months when stored properly.
      Reply
  24. Tala
    I bought couple of Bob's Wheat Germ, Kernel. Been using for few days now. Yet always notice a bad smell, like baby diapers, when I smell the inside of the bag. Is this normal, if not, should I discard them.

    Also, what wheat germ smell like, if any. Please reply. Thanks.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Hi Tala, well, that doesn't sound good at all. Can we ask what the date is on the package? Wheat germ should just have a clean wheat smell, no off odors. How has it been stored? Our wheat germ has a 12 month self life and it's best stored in the fridge or freezer.
      Reply
  25. Pat cleary
    How do you know when a grain like millet or Fargo is rancid
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      The smell would be a great indicator. If you have specific questions, we highly recommend you contact our customer service department at 800-349-2173
      Reply
  26. Michelle Vinarskai
    Michelle Vinarskai
    Hi, I've bought Bob's Red Mill xanthum gum, tapioca powder, arrowroot powder, and Egg Replacer products is it recommended to also store these in the fridge or freezer as well? Thanks for your help.
    Reply
    1. Sarena Shasteen
      Yes, those all stay fresher for longer when stored in an air tight container in the fridge or freezer.
      Reply
  27. Naghma Husain
    Hi,
    I purchased a large bag of your wheat bran from Walmart (I believe it was Walmart) and two recently from Shoprite. When I opened them, they all had an off smell- like food going bad. I'm guessing they are rancid. I kept one to use and threw the others away.

    Can you tell me where I can buy your wheat bran that is not already rancid.
    tks
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Naghma, I'm so sorry about the disappointing experience with the wheat bran. Please contact our Customer Service team at [email protected] or 1-800-349-2173 so that we may remedy the situation.
      Reply
  28. Janno
    I bought your flaxseed meal last fall and did not know it needed to be refrigerated. The packaging said it could be stored in a cool dry place, with an expiration date of 1 year. I only just now found out that flaxseed meal goes bad very quickly, so I've been eating rancid flaxseed for months now. Very disappointing from Bob's Red Mill, you should change your packaging.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Janno, yes - from our packaging our Flaxseed stores best in a "cool, dry place. Keeps best refrigerated or frozen after opening." If it wasn't stored in the refrigerator or freezer it's not necessarily rancid, but you can contact our Customer Service team for more information and help at [email protected] or 1-800-349-2173.
      Reply
  29. Khouri Joel
    Great advice, thanks!
    Where can I get those labels that are on the storage jars on the photo above? That would be great for our storage needs.
    Thanks!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Khouri, glad you found some useful info! We don't have those labels for sale but we do have some great ideas for labeling and storage here on our Pinterest board: Bob's Red Mill: Food Storage and Pantry Inspiration
      Reply
  30. Barbara Mladinov
    Cleaning out a refrigerator found an unopened and sealed bag of Bob's wheat bran. The sell by date is 11/02/11. Should we use? Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Barbara, at this point I would recommend composting and purchasing a fresh product.
      Reply
  31. Darlene Orth
    I love the labels! Wish you would make them and sell them. I would buy for sure.
    Reply
  32. Sheila Eschler
    I bought 4 25 oz bags of bobs 10 grain hot cereal. I am the only one that eats so should i store extra in the freezer in original unopened packaging ? Want it to stay fresh as long as possible. Let me know. Thanks in advabce !
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Sheila, yes - store the unopened products in the freezer and they will stay fresh :)
      Reply
  33. B
    How should we store super fine almond flour?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi B, we recommend storing it in an air tight container in a cool place - like the refrigerator or freezer.
      Reply
  34. Patricia Martindale
    Patricia Martindale
    Gluten free all purpose baking flour Best By Date is 11/04/2018. It has been refrigerated all of this time. Can it be used?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Patricia, we recommend using using our flour within the best by date or about 6 months after. The best indicator of freshness is smell; the flour should smell clean and neutral. If you have more questions please contact our Customer Service team at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected]
      Reply
  35. Aravinda
    I have some Bob's Red Mill Kamut which is 2+ years old. I have opened it and used some of it and liked it but somehow I haven't used it all yet. Do you think it is still good? Any way to tell>.

    btw the reason I guess for not using it fast enough is that I just suddenly got into a huge variety of grains and I am getting spelt einkorn, millet and more as well as my usual rice, wheat and oats. Somehow I didn't get around to finishing the kamut. I pulled it out today and would like to use it up so I can get more fresh. But if it is bad I guess I can put it into the compose.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Aravinda, we recommend using our products within the best by date or about 6 months after. The best way to test for freshness is by smell - the flour should smell clean and fresh with no off odors. If you aren't sure, we recommend composting and grabbing a fresh bag.
      Reply
  36. Susan Tatum
    How do you safely store gluten free flour? I had some that I, unfortunately, stored like regular flour and it went rancid. Will storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container help to prevent that?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Hi Susan! Gluten Free flour stores best in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. If you don't plan on using it within the specified best by date you can also store it in the refrigerator or freezer to extend the shelf life.
      Reply
  37. Cody&Tina Bannister
    Cody&Tina Bannister
    I just purchased 2 bags of wheat berries and will be using about 1 cup a week to sprout & grow. I have a couple questions about storing them.
    The opened bag I am using now, can I put them in a mason jar & keep at room temperature??
    The unopened bag can go in the freezer until I’m ready to use, but once opened & out of freezer can it just be put in mason jar & kept at room temperature? Or once they’re frozen, do I put them back in freezer after opening?? Thanks!!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Whitney Barnes
      Yes, the opened package can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature. For long term storage (like your unopened bag), the freezer or refrigerator are both appropriate.
      Reply
  38. David Raskin
    Hi - I usually keep Country Style Muesli in the refrigerator after opening. I purchased a few of the 40 oz bags which could take a month or so to use them. Would you recommend storing in the freezer, or is the refrigerator OK for a month or so?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi David - refrigerator is fine :)
      Reply
  39. Wendy Williams
    If I store grains/flours/meals in a fridge/freeze I use airtight containers (mason jars, plastic food containers). When I take them out, I let them sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes.
    I have two questions:
    1) Does it matter about moisture in the air INSIDE the jar, especially as the jar gets used?
    2) Would it help to put the jars inside a second box (I only do this in the freezer)?

    When you take something out, especially in the summer, condensation occurs everywhere. Also, the air is often very humid and will get into the jar I use.

    Any comments or tips about this would be helpful, even if it is only to reassure me that my method is ok.

    Thanks
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Wendy - your methods of storage sound great. I wouldn't worry too much about excess moisture getting into the containers via condensation. The excess moisture you see could be released from the grains themselves as they defrost. The temperature of the freezer provides the perfect condition for food safety and preservation. If you have more questions our Customer Service team is happy to help. They can be reached at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected]
      Reply
  40. Mary jo gordon
    I buy crushed wheat or burghal to make kibbi with. Lebanese meat dish. Sometimes it rises and sometimes it doesn’t. I store it in the freezer so it last longer. After washing I let stand for 1-4 hours before mixing. I have had two occasions where it did not fluff up and dry enough to use. Can you help? Should I store at room temperature in my pantry? Thank you.
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Mary Jo - Hm, that's a tricky question. If the crushed wheat/bulgur didn't fluff up (absorb liquid), it might not have been thawed completely. The wheat has a relatively long shelf life when stored at room temperature; unless you're trying to keep it for years on end, I'd recommend storing it at room temperature and seeing if that has a positive effect on your kibbeh recipe.
      Reply
  41. C.
    I have been using Red Bob Mills organic flaxseed for years and I came across a medical university article that said flaxseed, when ground, will go rancid in 24 hours unless it's been stored in Mylar bags to keep it fresh. We have no idea exactly how long stores or vitamin companies have had products on the shelf, just the best use by dates. I have bought rancid RBM's before smelling old when first trying flaxseeds thinking that was just the way flaxseeds smelled and taste before I later bought fresh & learned the hard way. I would like to know if RBM's would consider using the Mylar bags in the future for your products?

    Thank you. ☺
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi C., we will certainly pass along your feedback to our team here. If you have any further questions, our Customer Service team is happy to chat! They can be reached at 1-800-349-2173 or [email protected]
      Reply
  42. John
    Hello, First of all I'm a huge fan of Bob's Red Mill--thanks for all the wholesome products you produce! I'm in the UK and I have some quick oats, apparently made for export. I know in the USA best before dates are often MM/DD/YYYY whereas in Europe it's DD/MM/YYYY. I just need to know which one it is for the stuff I've got. (Details: BBD is 05/10/2010, batch code 279307, packaging date 06042019). Thank you very much for your help!
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi John! Thanks for being a fan. Our best by dates are listed in DDMMYYYY; this product is best by October 5, 2020.
      Reply
  43. JO
    I was going through my lower corner cupboard (it is dry and dark) and found an unopened bag of Organic Whole Grain Amaranth with a Sell by Date of 01/20/2016 and a unopened bag of Whole Grain Sorghum with a date of 04/15/2016.
    I am having a hard time figuring out how long they last.... some sites say 10 years, others say 6 months.
    Can either of them still be used?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Jo, our products have a max shelf life of 24 months. The products that you have were likely packaged in 2014. At this point we would recommend composting and grabbing a fresh bag.
      Reply
  44. Lori
    How long do you think buckwheat groats can have good nutrition if vacuum sealed and stored in the basement? Versus ziplock bags in the freezer?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Lori, our Buckwheat Groats have a shelf life of 24 months. A vacuum seal would likely increase the shelf life, but unfortunately that's not something we've tested.
      Reply
  45. Karen M Berger
    Karen M Berger
    I live in a small space with a tiny kitchen. I have stackable mason jar totes and closet space. I order online since I don't have a car. Which Bob Mill flours would be safe to store in vacuum sealed mason jars with an oxygenator or mylar bags?
    Reply
  46. Mary Jo Wright
    Hi. I live at 8700 feet and have several unopened bags of different bobs flours. They have been stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Have August 2016 expiration dates. Will they still be good to use?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Mary Jo, we recommend enjoying our products within the best by date or about 6 months beyond. At this point, we would recommend using fresh product.
      Reply
  47. Shelby
    Hi, I have an unopened bad of your farro that I want to cook and the best before date is February 13, 2020, batch 293882. It was stored in a dark cupboard the whole time. Is it still safe to eat?
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Shelby, we recommend enjoying our products within the best by date or about 6 months beyond. Since it's been stored properly, the grains may still be fine though it's beyond the recommendation. Make sure there are no off or sour odors from the grains. They may also take a bit longer to cook as they lose moisture overtime.
      Reply
  48. Nilda
    I have a bag of Sorghum that expired November 7, 2020.
    It has been refrigerated and is unopened.
    Can I still use?
    Thanks for your help.
    Nilda Mager
    Reply
    1. Whitney Barnes
      Hi Nilda - We recommend enjoying our products within the best by date or about 6 months beyond. If it's been store properly, the sorghum is likely fine to use. If there are any sour or off-odors present in the uncooked grains, we'd suggest grabbing a new bag.
      Reply

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