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Food Storage: How to Store Millets for long-term Storage
Whether you eat them or feed them to your animals, you should learn how to store millets long-term. This is helpful knowledge for maintaining its quality and extending the shelf life of uncooked millets for over 20 years.
In the past we covered how to store grains long-term, but this article provides step-by-step instructions for storing millet and aspects to consider when doing so. In addition, we’ll cover signs of spoilage and when you should decide to dispose of it. But first, let’s quickly cover what millets are.
What are Millets?
Millets have a long history and are believed to be one of the first crops to be cultivated by people over 7,000 years ago. Today, it is popular especially popular in Asia and Africa because it goes from planting to harvesting in only 45-60 days and grows in hot, arid, drought-prone environments.
Like rice, oats, and wheat berries, millets are the seeds of a type of grass and are consumed around the world as a grain or animal feed. Millets can be cooked within 20 minutes, making it a convenient food to have in your pantry. They are also a gluten-free food source, which can be ideal if you have someone in your home with a wheat allergy.
It is also versatile in the kitchen and provides varied nutritional value. Millets can be popped like popcorn as well as be used to make a crunchier texture for bread and salads. Uncooked millets have a higher oil content than other grains, but it is still safe to store for long-term storage (source).
Step-By-Step Instructions For Storing Millet
Storing uncooked millet is an easy process that can be done in several ways. You should aim to store uncooked millet in food-grade 5-gallon buckets or airtight containers. This would protect the grain from oxygen, light, pests, and moisture. Storing it in a dark, cool, and dry area, like a pantry, will protect it from heat damage.
Generally, you should use a 5-gallon bucket for long-term storage and an airtight container when you expect to use it within three years. Your packaging and storage simply depend on the frequency of use and how long you want to store the grain.
Method 1: Mylar Bag and Food-Grade 5-Gallon Bucket:
This is the most effective method for storing grains long-term. The food-grade bucket and mylar bag together prevent air, heat, light, moisture, and pests from interacting with the millet. Following this method, millets can be stored for over 20 years. You can store it by:
- Placing the mylar bag inside the 5-gallon bucket
- Filling the mylar bag up to 80-90% with millet
- Using a hot iron to seal 90% of the mylar bag
- Pushing the air out of the mylar bag and placing oxygen absorbers in the bag
- Sealing the mylar bag entirely
- Sealing the lid over the 5-gallon bucket
Note: Food in 5-gallon buckets should be placed at room temperature. They are already protected for long-term storage, and there is no benefit to including them in the freezer or fridge. Plus, freezer space is valuable space you can use to store other foods.
Related Article: How to Store Food in 5-Gallon Buckets
Related Article: How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners
Method 2: Airtight Containers
If you intend to use your millet storage within three years, we recommend this method. Mason jars with oxygen absorbers are an effective way to protect uncooked millet for up to three years. Here is a step-by-step guide to storing your millets in the pantry:
- Find a clean mason jar, as dirty residue can cause mold or bacteria growth
- Once clean, pour the millets into the airtight container
- Add oxygen absorbers depending on the size of the container
- Seal your container tightly
- Once the lid is sucked in, your millet should be secure
Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Mason Jars
Related Article: Oxygen Absorbers vs. Silica Gel Packets
4 Aspects To Consider When Storing Millets
There are several aspects that would affect how you store millets. Here’s a brief list of four aspects to consider before deciding how to store millet.
1) Type of Container
Make sure your container is airtight. You may use stainless steel, glass, or wooden container with a secure lock. Glass containers with mason lids are ideal for storing small amounts of millet that you don’t plan to use daily.
2) Storage Area
You should store your millet in a dry place for optimum safety. Dry areas won’t increase the moisture in your millet, which can help you prevent fungus and mold.
3) Proper Storing Conditions
Before putting millet in a container, you should wash them and then leave it to dry under the sun. This way, you can guarantee that the container is free of moisture.
How Long Does Millet Last?
The shelf life of millet varies by the storage method used. Here is a table of the expected shelf life:
Storage Method Shelf Life of Millet
5-Gallon Bucket with Mylar Bag 20+ Years
Airtight Container 3+ Years
Original Packaging 1 Year
How To Tell If Millet Has Gone Bad?
The best way to check whether your millets have gone bad is to use your senses. For instance, if the millet’s color, smell, or texture has clearly changed, you should refrain from using them.
Your millets can get decolorized, and this is a clear indication that they’ve gone bad. If you see a big change in the color, get rid of the millet because they’ve most probably lost all benefits.
Generally speaking, fresh millets don’t have any smell. However, if you notice a rancid or foul smell in your millet, throw it away. This smell might be the result of molds, bacteria, or fungi.
If you find your millets are dusty or dry, they’ve most likely expired. In this case, you shouldn’t keep them, eat them, or feed them to your birds.
Why Does Millet Go Bad?
Millets can go bad if not stored properly. In other words, millets usually expire due to changes in the moisture content of the grain. Luckily, this can be controlled through proper storage.
The moisture content in millets plays a pivotal role in their quality. Moderation is key when it comes to maintaining the quality of millet.
If the moisture content of millets decreases, it’ll affect the color and texture of your grains. In fact, less moisture makes the millet dry and dusty.
Alternatively, whenever the moisture content of your millets increases, you’ll notice a bad odor. That’s a direct result of the growth of bacteria, molds, and fungi as a result of the increased moisture content.
Therefore, if you want to preserve millets for a long time, you should control their moisture level.
How to Control the Moisture Content of Millets?
Proper storage can help you maintain the right level of moisture in your millets. Here are three aspects that can help you:
Millets should be kept in a cool, dry area. High temperatures may affect the moisture content of millets, causing them to rot or grow mold.
This doesn’t mean that you should always store millet in the fridge or the freezer. In fact, you can keep it in your pantry as long as it’s dark, dry, and cool.
The quantity of millet you store in an airtight container makes a difference. If you plan to keep this container in the fridge or the freezer, you should make sure it’s full to the brim. Otherwise, the millet would get moist and eventually go bad.
Make sure that your storage container is 100% airtight, meaning no air should get inside it. This is crucial for the safety of the millet because oxygen can enable the growth of mold, insects, and fungi.
You may even use oxygen absorbers, but make sure not to use them with flour or powdery millet.
Nutritional Benefits of Millets
Millets are primarily composed of carbohydrates and are a good source of protein. However, they do contain a lower protein content than other grains. See below for more info on nutrient facts.
Nutrient 100g of Cooked Millet
You should learn how to store millets if you want to add a versatile and nutritious food source to your emergency food supply. You can store millets in food-grade 5-gallon buckets for over 20 years or in an airtight container for up to 3 years. The most important point to remember is to reduce exposure to heat, light, moisture, air, and pests. By doing so, you can ensure your millets reach their maximum shelf life.
Related Article: 11 Items You need for DIY Long-Term Food Storage
Related Article: 6 Best Grains for Long-Term Storage
Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Hot Climates
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