Deliberately running yourself out of flour…

…is just a very counterintuitive thing to do. But I gotta do it.

Because I did something I honestly didn’t think it possible to do: I hoarded too much flour. Okay, there’s no such thing as “too much” if doomsday has arrived and there never will be another bag of flour at another store ever ever ever, but for normal storage in the boonies “almost enough” turns out to be too much. Because…

While with canned goods the use-by date is at most a helpful guideline for rotation, other commodities have a finite shelf life. This is a lesson I ignore on a fairly regular basis and sometimes it bites me on the ass.

Today I reached the end of my ready-use bucket, and since I no longer eat bread with every single meal that takes longer than it used to. For quite some time I’ve been racing the use-by dates on my stored flour…

…planning to eat it down before I start buying more. I used to store about 100 pounds at a time but these days that has quality consequences. Not serious consequences, but I do have to sift the hell out of it when making bread and I never used to have to do that. Enough to let me know I’m pushing the edges of of my stash’s shelf life.

Basically, I pay much closer attention to rotation now and make sure I only bring down the oldest stuff from the pantry on my high tech whiz-bang dumb waiter.

And once again, pouring the sacks into the bucket, it’s clear I won’t be putting my sifter away anytime soon. Never used to be a problem.

Also, I’m still having oven trouble. It worked great when I made cookies several days ago, but today it refused to light for my bread – for the third time in a row. Grumble. I’m bringing my raised dough over the ridge and baking it in the oven at Ian’s place, but that won’t be fun in the bottom of winter.

The thermocouple isn’t anything like the universal ones they sell at the hardware. I’m going to sand this one’s surface and see if that does anything, but I may actually find myself needing a new oven. And won’t that be a hassle.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Deliberately running yourself out of flour…

  1. Anonymous says:

    Flour for bread really doesn’t have the shelf life they print on the bag. the resulting bread has a seriously nasty bitter taste. I routinely bin the flour at least a month before the BB date.

  2. jabrwok says:

    Do you put an egg wash on your loaves? They always look a bit pale when you post pictures of them, and an egg wash would help with that.

  3. free.and.true says:

    When the oven acts up, you might like to try this method and recipe for pan-baked bread — it appears to turn out something like focaccia, or the pan-pizza crust from Pizza Hut:

    The recipe calls for:
    400 g of flour (3 1/2 cup)
    7 g of dry yeast
    200 – 220 ml of water (4/5 cup)
    1 teaspoon of salt
    2 teaspoons of sugar

    … plus a bit of oil for the rising bowl and pan. Looks yummy…

  4. Robert says:

    Been eating a LOT of homemade cornbread due to the same date problem as you, Joel. Oddly, my pants appear to be shrinking…
    Good luck on the oven issue.

  5. Not to be an evil yuppie survivalist, but you really should think about getting something like a vacuum sealer to secure those bags of flour from air, moisture, nasties, and everything else. Just drop the bag of flour into the vacuum bag and run it through the machine. Stuff keeps a good long while after that.

  6. Joel says:

    Yeah, I’m going to price one of those.

  7. CZ – if you don’t mind – I’d appreciate your opinion on this one:

    I’ve been threatening to get a vacuum sealer for years and I finally decided to pick this one up next time someone here is at the “big city”. The price seems reasonable and it appears to offer all the functions we’d want. I know I’ll come up with all kinds of uses for it – but the main use I’ve got in mind is for protecting frozen meats.

  8. Mike says:

    The vacuum sealer idea is a good one. I wasn’t a fan for a long time. I finally broke down after seeing one on sale at Costco for a price I couldn’t resist. Now that I’ve used it for a while, I’m sold.

    I know the upfront costs may be a little steep, but the return you get for your investment is really good. Mine lets me buy in bulk. When I get home, I split the food into manageable portions then vacuum seal it up and put it away. This is how I’ve stored things like powdered milk, oatmeal, cereal, flour etc., for a rainy day. And as an added bonus, you can store things in the portions you need for cooking.

    Here’s one from Amazon that also comes with a starter kit of bags.

  9. Norman says:

    +1 on the Foodsaver.

    Pro Tip: when sealing bags if you want “extra sooper” vacuum, use the “canister” button – the pump will run about 2X longer before stopping. You will have to manually press the “seal” button to perform the bag seal. Useful for stuff that may have a LOT of entrained air in it, and you can “force stop” the pump in mid-cycle by pressing the “seal button.” See below.

    It’s great for sealing stuff to protect it – first aid kits, tools, paper maps, etc. Really useful for camping stuff. You can also “force stop” the vacuum pump during bag vacuum/seal by manually pressing the “seal” button. Handy if you want to protect-seal something crushable, like cookies, if full vacuum would crumble them. The mason jar attachment for vacuuming quart and 2 quart jars is great, too. Pro Tip: drop an oxygen absorber in the jar just before vacuuming it. Oxy absorbers seem to last longer if the unused ones are stored in a vacuumed-out mason jar than a vacuumed-out foodsaver bag; the plastic the bags are made from is not as totally impervious to air molecules as glass is.

    If you do a LOT of vacuum sealing, especially on mason jars, you’ll eventually want a small vacuum pump and a heat sealer.

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