There tends to be a lot of misconception around flaxseed storage and shelf-life so it’s no wonder that best practices can be a bit confusing at times. In this post, we bust some of the most common flaxseed storage myths and answer many frequently asked questions from consumers; everything from how to store flaxseed to ‘do flax seeds expire?’.
How to Store Flaxseed
Below we will go into more detail and answer some frequently asked questions, but in summary, a high quality flax product can be stored in its original packaging at room temperature. However, if you purchase a low quality flax or flax meal (due to low quality seed selection or improper handling), it may already be rancid by the time you purchase it.
Myth #1: Flax Meal is the Same as Whole-Milled (or Ground) Flaxseed
Before we get into flaxseed storage, it is important to address types of flax products. While ‘flax meal’ and ‘ground flaxseed’ are often used interchangeably, there are actually important differences to note.
Flaxseed meal is a by-product of making flax oil (similar to when you get leftover pulp after extracting fresh juice). While this reduces waste, the nutrition profile is lacking compared to that of a whole-milled or ground flaxseed product. Whole-milled or ground flaxseeds leave the heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats intact so you can still benefit from all of the omega-3s.
For more in depth information on this topic, be sure to check out our most popular blog post: Whole-Milled Flaxseed vs. Flaxseed Meal: There’s a Difference
Myth #2: For Optimal Nutrition and Freshness, You Should Grind Whole Flax Seeds Yourself Rather than Purchase Ground Flaxseed
Nutritionally speaking, freshly ground seeds will have the same nutrition properties as our smooth, whole-milled flax. However, grinding flaxseed yourself is not necessary if you purchase a good quality ground flaxseed.
This myth stems from the idea that when omega-3s are exposed to air (oxygen) they break down over time. However, a quality flax product should not go rancid. At Manitoba Milling we use a proprietary milling process to ensure quality and freshness. Our Smooth Whole Milled Flaxseed has been tested to show that the nutrition quality remains intact when exposed to both heat and oxygen over time. We guarantee freshness for up to two years at room temperature.
Grinding flax seeds at home can also be messy and time consuming. If this extra step keeps you from regularly incorporating it in your smoothies, muffins and energy bites then it’s likely worth it to buy pre-milled flax. Manitoba Milling Whole-Milled Flaxseed also has a super smooth texture that really can’t be replicated at home!
Myth #3: Ground Flaxseed Must be Stored in the Refrigerator or Freezer to Maintain Freshness
Some brands of flaxseed may recommend storing their flax product in the refrigerator or freezer to preserve freshness. This, however, is not necessary with Manitoba Milling Co. Flaxseed, storing at room temperature is perfectly acceptable.
Our unique milling process allows us to select just high quality seeds (i.e. no green or damaged seeds), therefore we guarantee quality and freshness for two years at room temperature.
As mentioned above, a quality flax product should not go rancid. This is because while flaxseed contains a highly unstable oil (Omega 3), it also contains powerful antioxidants (lignans) which are in the seed to help stabilize the oil. So by selecting high quality, undamaged seed and handling it properly in our mill, the natural antioxidants in flaxseed ensure a long shelf life in our milled flaxseed.
FAQ: How Will You Know if Your Flax Goes Bad or Rancid?
If your flaxseed has a fishy smell it has gone bad. If you purchase a high quality flax product you should not experience this. \
FAQ: Do Flax Seeds Expire?
This again will depend on the quality of the product. High quality whole flax seeds remain fresh for several years. Once milled, depending on the brand, a higher quality flax can maintain freshness for 1-2 years. We guarantee a shelf life of two years at room temperature.