Flaxseed is one of the most versatile and accessible ingredients out there. You can use it in a brownie mix, as a nutritious add-on in smoothies or a vegan substitute for eggs. However, considering the fast-paced world we live in, many of us rarely find the time to bake with them – or even to use them to thicken out a smoothie. So, with dry goods like this, which we are more likely to buy in bulk, we often find ourselves in the position of wondering whether they are still good. Even with regular usage, we rarely use more than a few tablespoons or a cup at a time. This barely makes a dent in a one-pound bag.
So, this brings with it a lot of issues. Storage techniques need to be found to make sure bucket loads don’t go to waste. We also need to look into how to identify the signs that your flaxseed has gone bad and how long it will last before this starts to happen. If you feel like any of this applies to you, you will definitely want to read on.
The Best Way to Store Flaxseed
Whole flaxseed is a much easier product to store than its milled counterpart due to the fact that it is somewhat protected by its hard and almost impenetrable shell. This helps to protect the flax from the elements which would harm it; sunlight, moisture, and air. With all food products, the more you can prevent their contact with these elements, the longer they will stay fresh. Given that flax already has some natural protection against these, it is not at all demanding when it comes to storage requirements. It isn’t too sensitive to temperature or even temperature changes and as a result can be kept anywhere in the kitchen. It will be fine in the pantry, in a kitchen cabinet, or even on a countertop if it is not in contact with direct sunlight.
However, once the package is opened, it requires a little more care in order for it to keep. To ensure that it stays fresh for the longest possible time, make sure that the package is always re-sealed. If the package doesn’t have the capacity to be re-sealed, your best bet is to transfer it into an airtight container instead. By doing this, you will ensure that your flaxseed doesn’t come into contact with any extra air, moisture, or pantry-dwelling insects.
How to store ground flax
Ground flax is a lot more demanding to store that whole. There is no longer a natural barrier against the elements so the chances that something may sully it are dramatically increased. When the package is unopened, it will do just fine in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet. However, when it is opened it is very vulnerable to attack from the elements and bugs. To halt its degradation, the best method is to put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Yes, it does take up valuable fridge space, but there really isn’t any other way around it. If you grind your own flax at home, our best advice is to only grind as much as you need.
How Long Does Flaxseed Last?
When flax is whole, it can potentially outlive the printed date on the bag by a period of months. Now, we are not suggesting that one should entirely disregard the printed sell-by dates, but if you store the flaxseed correctly and take all the necessary precautions, there will be no reason to chuck out large amounts of it that are ‘past it’. However, this date is brought back quite a bit once the package has been opened. By the mere fact that it has had contact with the oxygen/moisture in your kitchen, flaxseed will only last three months after it has been opened. This is true even if all of the precautionary measures have been taken afterward. If the package has never been opened, in some cases they can stay good for an absurd amount of time – up to a whole year!
Ground flax/flax meal
In terms of ground flax, or flax meal, the sell-by date is much more accurate at predicting when it will begin to spoil. Without the protective layer of the shell, it just doesn’t cope as well with the elements. The oils within the seed are also freed during the grinding process. These oils are subject to going rancid after a time. So, in terms of how long flax meal will last, our best advice is to follow the advice of the producer and to get to learn the signs that your flax may have spoiled.
Signs That Your Flaxseed May Have Gone Off
The most definite way to assess the quality of your flax seed is to simply taste them, but there are other ways before taking the risk of eating something potentially disgusting. The best advice we can give you on this is to simply tune your senses in to the flax. Hold some of the seeds in your hand. Have they become soft or perhaps even a little damp feeling over time? If so, the likelihood is that they won’t be in any way nice to eat. With flax meal in particular, there may even be some more obvious signs of spoilage. Be on the lookout for that rancid smell that oils give off when they are past their sell-by date. This flavor will come out in anything the flax meal is used in so it is best to discard it immediately. More obvious again is mold. Should even a tiny portion of the seed or meal show signs of mold, the whole container needs to be discarded immediately. The remainder cannot be saved.
Should Flaxseed be Refrigerated?
The quick answer to this is that it depends. There is absolutely no reason to ever refrigerate whole flax seeds, but with ground flax the situation is quite different. Given that the oils present in ground flax are subject to turn rancid, the best environment for it is in the fridge in an airtight container. This does not apply to unopened packages however.
Flaxseed Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
Why grind flaxseed?
When flax is ground, the nutrients that it possesses are much more easily absorbed by the human body. There are also a broad variety of baking recipes and smoothies that require this texture for the recipe to be appealing.
Is flax keto?
Flax is considered to be a keto superfood. This is in no small part due to the fact that it only contains 3 grams of net carbs per 100 gram serving. Aside from this, it consists of 71% of healthy natural fats including omega-3.
Is flax gluten free?
Flax is the perfect ingredient for the gluten-intolerant baking enthusiasts among us. By making a paste from flax meal and water, the texture that is associated with gluten can be replaced. This means that you can get very close to replicating the texture of glutinous breads and muffins. The slightly nutty flavor will also be a welcome addition for most! Note: always check the label to ensure that there has been no chance of cross contamination with any glutinous goods.
Where does flaxseed come from?
In all likelihood, flax seed was first successfully cultivated en masse in Egypt. However, these days it is grown and harvested all over the world where the climate suits.