Ground flaxseed will last for around 3 to 6 months when stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. The oils in ground flaxseed can go rancid over time, so it is important to store it correctly and use within a few months of purchase or grinding. Freezing can extend the shelf life to around 12 months. Here are some quick answers about how long ground flaxseed lasts:
- Refrigerated: 3 to 4 months
- Frozen: 6 to 12 months
- Pantry (cool/dark spot): 2 to 3 months
How to tell if ground flaxseed has gone bad
Here are some signs that ground flaxseed has gone bad and should be discarded:
- Unpleasant, bitter, or rancid odor
- Change in color from golden brown to grayish or yellowish
- Texture changes from powdery to clumpy, sticky, or hard
- Tastes bitter or unpleasant instead of nutty
Rancidity is the main concern with stored ground flaxseed. The delicate omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oils can oxidize and become rancid over time, especially if not stored properly. Any sort of unpleasant or “off” odor, taste, or texture is a sign to discard.
How to store ground flaxseed properly
Ground flaxseed should always be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. This protects the oils from oxygen exposure and slows rancidity. Follow these storage tips:
- Use an airtight glass, plastic, or metal container with an air-tight seal.
- Exclude as much air as possible by pressing out excess and sealing immediately after opening.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months or freezer for up to 1 year.
- Store away from light, heat, and moisture.
Whole flaxseeds keep longer than ground because their hard outer shell protects the oils inside. Once ground, the oils are exposed. Improper storage of ground flax causes the natural oils to go rancid much quicker.
How humidity affects ground flaxseed
Humidity and moisture is not ideal for ground flax storage. Flaxseed meal is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture easily. In high humidity environments, it will become sticky and clumpy as it absorbs moisture from the air.
Storing ground flaxseed in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot is important to keep out excess moisture. If you live in a humid environment, consider storing it in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent moisture absorption.
Signs of moisture exposure include clumping, hardness, gumminess, or changes in texture. Discard any ground flaxseed that shows signs of moisture damage.
Whole vs ground flaxseed storage
Whole flaxseeds keep longer than ground flaxseeds. Whole flaxseeds have a tough outer shell that protects the oils inside from oxygen and moisture. Ground flaxseeds don’t have this protective barrier.
Here is an overview of whole vs ground flaxseed shelf life:
- Whole: 1 to 2 years stored properly at room temperature
- Ground: 2 to 4 months refrigerated; 6 to 12 months frozen
It is best to grind flaxseed as needed and store any leftover ground meal in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Only grind what you need for a week or two at a time. Whole flaxseeds will keep for 1-2 years at room temp stored properly.
Does microwave or oven heating affect ground flax?
Yes, microwave or oven heating can speed up oil oxidation and rancidity of ground flaxseeds. It is best to add ground flaxseed to baked goods without heating it directly.
However, short microwave or oven heating may be ok if consuming food immediately. Avoid long cooking times or reheating baked goods multiple times with ground flaxmeal.
For optimal nutrition, add ground flaxseed to oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, and other foods after cooking or just before eating. High, direct heat can damage the delicate omega-3 fatty acids.
Can you freeze ground flaxseed?
Yes, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of ground flaxseeds. To freeze:
- Grind fresh flaxseed meal and let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Transfer to an airtight freezer container or heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Press out all excess air and seal the container.
- Store in freezer for 6-12 months.
Freezing prevents the healthy fats in flaxseeds from going rancid prematurely. Thaw frozen ground flax in the refrigerator before using.
You can also freeze pre-mixed foods like muffins, breads, and smoothies for 1-3 months. Flaxseed oil supplements should not be frozen but refrigerated and kept away from heat and light.
Can you refrigerate ground flaxseed?
Yes, refrigerating ground flaxseed is recommended for optimal storage and shelf life. Refrigeration slows the oxidation process that causes flaxseed oils to go rancid.
To refrigerate ground flaxseed:
- Store in an airtight container immediately after grinding.
- Press out any excess air and seal the container.
- Place in the refrigerator.
- Use within 3-4 months for best quality.
The fridge extends ground flax’s shelf life from a few weeks at room temp to several months. If not using within a couple months, you can freeze for even longer storage.
How long does opened ground flaxseed last?
Once opened, ground flaxseed should be used within 2-3 months for optimal freshness and to prevent rancidity. An opened package has more exposure to oxygen, light, and humidity which speeds up oil oxidation.
Tips for extending opened ground flaxseed:
- Transfer to an airtight container and press out excess air.
- Store in the refrigerator immediately after opening.
- Use within 2-3 months.
- Freeze for longer storage of up to 1 year.
Sniff test opened ground flaxseed before use. If it smells unpleasant or rancid, it should be discarded. Use fresh ground flaxmeal within a couple months for best nutrition and flavor.
Signs of rancidity
Rancidity is the main concern with ground flaxseed going bad. Here are the signs of rancid ground flax:
- Smell: Unpleasant, bitter, or paint-like odor
- Color: Changes from golden brown to yellowish, greyish, or darker
- Texture: Changes from powdery to clumpy, sticky, slimy, or hard
- Taste: Bitter, unpleasant tang, or sour aftertaste instead of nutty
Any sort of “off” smell, taste, appearance, or texture is a sign of rancidity. Immediately discard any ground flaxseed that is rancid. It will not be safe or healthy to eat.
Is ground flaxseed gluten-free?
Yes, flaxseeds are 100% gluten free and safe for gluten-free diets. They can be a great source of fiber and nutrients for gluten sensitivity. Always check labels to confirm gluten free status.
Can you eat flaxseed everyday?
Yes, 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day is safe and healthy for most people. Flax provides fiber, omega-3 fats, and lignans. Consume ground flax in smoothies, oats, yogurt, baking, and more. Start small and drink plenty of water to avoid digestive issues.
Is ground flaxseed better than whole?
Ground flaxseed provides more nutritional benefits because the body can fully digest the contents once the shell is removed. Whole flaxseeds may pass undigested. It’s ideal to grind as needed and consume immediately for the freshest, healthiest oils.
Does ground flaxseed need to be refrigerated?
Yes, refrigeration extends the shelf life of ground flax and prevents the healthy oils from going rancid too quickly. Store ground flaxmeal in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 months or freezer for 6-12 months.
Can you bake with ground flaxseed?
Yes, ground flax is great in baked goods like breads, muffins, and cookies. Use 1-3 tablespoons per recipe. Add to wet ingredients and allow time to hydrate before baking. Flax acts as a binder and adds nutrition.
Ground flaxseed has a relatively short shelf life of 2-4 months due to its delicate oils. For optimal freshness and nutritional value, store ground flaxseed in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Look for signs of rancidity like smell, taste, texture, and color changes over time.
Freezing extends the shelf life of ground flaxseeds to 6-12 months. Refrigeration keeps it fresh for 3-4 months. Whole flaxseed keeps for 1-2 years. Grinding flaxseed immediately before use gives you the freshest and most nutritious oil.
Use proper storage methods like air-tight containers and cold temperatures to prevent ground flaxseed from going rancid prematurely. Added to foods like oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods and smoothies, ground flaxseed provides important fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants. Enjoy the health benefits by storing flaxseed meal properly and using within a few months.