The Long-term Storage of Corn Meal

For years I have been under the misconception that cornmeal could not be stored for long periods of time.  I always believed that it would turn the oils rancid.  As a result, I have always stored popcorn or dent corn in whole kernels.  

In this form, it stores well, but not all grinders will handle whole grain corn.  Some like the Country Living Grain Mill will, but many of the lower-priced ones will not handle it.

I recently came across some information from BYU (Brigham Young University) in Utah.  Because of being LDS, they do a lot of research on the storage life of various foods. 

A recent study that they conducted involved the storage of cornmeal. Number 10 cans of cornmeal with low oxygen content from 1-33 years old were studied. The results indicated that it was acceptable for use.

The study available at stated there was no significant decrease over storage time in aroma, texture, flavor, and overall acceptability in cornmeal, cornbread, or cornmeal cereal.  It lost color, becoming significantly less yellow and red during storage.

Based on this study, I feel that storing cornmeal for the long term can be done. But what is the best way to store cornmeal long-term?

How to Store Cornmeal

Regular cornmeal has a shelf life of about a year at room temperature (which is not the ideal storage condition) in its original packaging. Read below to figure out the best method to store your cornmeal.

In an Airtight Container

The shelf life of cornmeal is up to a couple of years if properly stored in covered airtight containers. If the container is airtight, it will also be a moisture tight container. You should be mindful of storage conditions, though. The containers should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. Make sure to keep the containers away from heat sources such as stoves. Some popular airtight containers include Mylar bags, vacuum bags, food grade buckets, and mason jars.

Add An Oxygen Absorber

storing grains,legumes
oxygen absorbers

Oxygen absorbers are generally packets of iron that prevent oxidization. Without oxygen, problems such as mold growth, bacteria, and other pests cannot occur. By adding an oxygen absorber, you can keep cornmeal fresh with a shelf life of up to a decade in an airtight container.

In a Freezer

You can store cornmeal in a freezer indefinitely. It is best to put the cornmeal in heavy-duty freezer bags or a vacuum bag or jar with a vacuum seal before putting it in the freezer. When thawing the cornmeal, make sure to watch the moisture content because it can rise rapidly and cause mold to grow.

Different Kinds of Food Storage

Cornmeal is made when you grind dried corn. For long-term food storage, storage of cornmeal is better than storing whole corn kernels because of the oils in the whole corn kernels that will cause them to spoil and have a rancid odor faster.

Unbolted Cornmeal

Unbolted cornmeal is cornmeal that has the hull and germ still. Unbolted cornmeal is also known as stone-ground, water-ground, or old-fashioned.

Bolted Cornmeal

Bolted cornmeal is also referred to as degerminated cornmeal as it removes the germ as well as the hull. The ground corn kernels went through a sieve to remove these parts.

Corn Flour

Corn flour is also made from milled, dried corn, but it has a different texture than cornmeal. Corn flour is smooth, while cornmeal is gritty. Corn flour that is commercially sold is almost always bolted. You can store flour the same ways you store cornmeal.


Thanks to the BYU study, I now believe storing cornmeal can easily work. If you use the tips above, you can extend the shelf life of your cornmeal and have it at your disposal for many years to come.

See also  Powdered Milk, Why you Need It and How Much

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13 thoughts on “The Long-term Storage of Corn Meal”

  1. Thanks Howard. I have a case of two year old corn meal and was just recently wondering if I should open a can to see how well it was storing. With your info I might just get another case instead. I do love me some cornbread….

    1. Adrienne B Pereira

      Being as most cornmeal is degermed (the germ, which can go rancid is removed) it can store for a very long time. Imo

    1. I would like to know the best method of storing corn meal for long term storage. Also I would like to know if this method will work for flour as well.

        1. Cornmeal has a very long shelf life. Store it in a cool location, make sure pests cannot get into it, and it should stay good for at least 10 years.

  2. I want to buy a 50 pound bag of coarse corn meal from a restaurant supply company and put it into a Mylar bag inside a bucket. Would the moisture content be low enough from this type of bulk bag, or do the commercially done #10 cans from prepper companies like Emergency Essentials do something additionally to dry them out more? The #10 can from them is regularly $10.99 for 54 oz, while the bulk bag of 50 lbs from the restaurant supply company is $10.49. Quite a difference!

    1. Lin.. do NOT buy cornmeal from Emergency Essentials. I had 6 cans that after 3 years swelled up and burst the can. Originally it cost me $70. I wrote the company, took pictures on the cans and they apologized and offered me a $5 in store credit.
      I have serious doubts now about ANYTHING the company sells. If SHTF and the things they sell are as bad as the cornmeal I guess I’m going to stave.

  3. We recently opened a five gallon bucket with mylar bag and 2000 cc o2 absorber. It was put up in 2009 and it was fine. I made lots of cornbread for a large group of preppers and it was delicious. Just my experiences.

  4. Mrs. Jane Gelwicks

    Hello I would like to know if I can store yellow cornmeal that you buy from a store Using my food saver vacuum seal in a jar do I have to use a oxygen absorber and how long will that keep thank you

  5. This article was published back on July 29, 2013 under the name of “Howard” on this website. Can we either not repeat articles or at least state that it is a reposting for clarification?

    1. Thanks, Jose. We have a new editor and have been trying to add updated content for that very reason. There have been a few articles that republished before we could do that.

  6. Stephen Anyango

    I have a whole meal corn flour grinded from organically grown maize. I have keep it in airtight plastic bags in a freezer for close to one Year. I would love to make Ugali from it.
    Is it safe?

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