I go through a lot of flour. Consider these photos: I was actually taking a picture of the cake I’d made and how funny a silicone bundt pan is, but it shows the granola I’d just made (as always, a little too much to fit in the oat tub I use for it) as well as the all-purpose flour level (the blue-and-clear tub on the left).
I used up that flour by the time I’d gotten through half the granola – maybe two weeks. (the granola is clearest in the last photo of this post, by the way).
Next to the empty flour bin you can see the new bag of flour. It holds 5kg (10lb+) of flour and comes in a cloth flour sack; I like this brand because it ALSO has a clear plastic bag inside, which means I can save the cloth bag with much less fuss than it would otherwise take because I don’t have to wash a ton of flour out of the fabric. 🙂 Not a very cooking-related reason, I realize!
If you’ve ever had a recipe for cake or bread that came out too dry or heavy, you might consider this question: HOW MUCH flour exactly were you supposed to put in? There are plenty of places to learn about how measuring by volume (cups, spoons, etc) is not as accurate as weight, but here’s my summary of it and a visual explanation. I could just about fit that plastic bag in the container, but I can tell it’s REALLY packed together (after all, it’s been shipped and stored with lots of OTHER 5-kg bags of flour on and around it). Sifting the flour dramatically increases the volume – thus, a recipe that calls for 2 cups of sifted flour uses a whole lot less than one that call for 2 cups of packed-together condensed flour (if such a recipe even exists!). If I wait till I am ready to bake, I’ll have to scoop out 2 cups or so of the stuff, sift it onto something (one or two more dishes to wash each time), and then, after I sift it, re-measure it and put back the extra. So to save time, I sift it right after I buy it. I know it’ll settle back together some each time I scoop some out – the cup presses down on the flour beneath it, right? – but that seems minimal compared to how it came, and honestly I rarely waste time sifting ingredients unless I have a very good reason. So, back to that photo. A bag of compressed flour that can just about fit in the plastic tub…
Now I’ve sifted about half of it, and if I try to sift much more into this container, I’ll make a mess since it will involve shaking the sifter above the sides of the container.
And now it’s all sifted and put away. It took almost twice the volume of the tub I started with! So I figure it grew by at least 50%, probably more like 70%. Now I feel like a smart cook, and I don’t have to bother sifting unless I’m making angel food cake or something else really light and airy. Until I finish this lot and buy another bag of compressed flour, anyway! I do the same for bread flour (not in this photo); I haven’t for the whole wheat yet but I recently got the contact info for someone who delivers fresh-ground whole wheat flour in 10kg bags so I may be looking for a bigger container once I finish what I’ve got!
Side note: I find that my simple pan sifter is much simpler to whip out and use than the kind I grew up with that had fancy moving parts. The amount of time required to wash, dry, and put away a kitchen utensil/appliance without it rusting is inversely proportional to my likelihood to actually use it, and is sometimes a stronger factor than saving a bit of time or elbow grease in making something. Thankfully, I don’t feel that this simple one takes much if any longer than the moving-parts one; true, I have to use my hands to force through any lumps since there isn’t a part that does it for me, but makes up for that with a much wider surface area for things to sift through. And all it takes is a quick fingers-and-water rinse, a pass with the towel, then a swing or two through the air to get out any drops in the mesh before I can set it aside to air-dry totally. In a life where I’ve often had dollar-store pans rust when left to soak off baked-on junk, I love it!