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How to store wheat berries for long-term storage
Wheat is an essential dry ingredient in every kitchen pantry. It’s also a major component in most of the food we love to eat, like pasta, cereal, bread, and pastries. That’s not even mentioning its many nutrients like iron and calcium. Ensuring you have access to wheat in any situation will provide you with a steady flow of calories, nutrients, and lots of food options in any scenario.
Wheat berries are popular candidates for long-term food storage because they have a shelf life of over 30 years, making them a great way to access freshly milled flour constantly. So now you may be wondering, “how to store wheat berries for long-term storage?”
Generally, wheat berries should be stored in an airtight container to avoid air and moisture. There are several options for containers used to store wheat berries long-term.
Keep reading to know more about wheat berries, how to store them, and how to tell if they’ve gone bad.
How to store Wheat Berries for Long-term Storage
Store grain in moisture-resistant food-grade buckets. You may find rats chewing through plastic bags. Wheat in 10-pound bags is easily manipulated, allowing easy rotation and inspection, and is compartmentalized to reduce contamination in fewer lots. The contents can be packed in 5-gallon plastic buckets.
Storing wheat berries is really easy and doesn’t require much work. Wheat berries should be stored in airtight containers, away from moisture and heat. The best place to do so is the kitchen pantry or, even better, the basement.
There are several container options you can use to store wheat berries like:
- Mason jars
- #10 cans
- Plastic buckets with lids
- Mylar bags
- Polyethylene or plastic vacuum sealed bags
- Plastic or PETE bottles
- Mylar bags lined plastic buckets
Some of the previously mentioned storing containers might work better than others, but any of them can be just fine. In this article, we address two methods for storing wheat berries:
Method 1: 5 Gallon Bucket with Mylar bag
One of the best ways to store wheat berries for a long time is inside a plastic bucket lined with a mylar bag. A 5-gallon bucket can hold up to 37 pounds of wheat berries, making it an excellent option for bulk storage.
Mylar bags provide an oxygen-free and moisture-free environment for wheat berries. Additionally, the bucket gives shape to the mylar bag and helps protect it from rodents and insects.
After filling the mylar bag with wheat berries, place an oxygen absorber pack inside, then squeeze the excess air out. Use an impulse sealer to seal the bag. You can also use a flat iron to do the job just as effectively if you don’t have an impulse sealer.
Secure the lid of your 5-gallon bucket, and don’t forget to label it. It’s always a good idea to also include the date in the labeling.
Related Article: How to Store Food in 5-gallon Buckets
Method 2: Mylar bag
Mylar bags are metallic bags that protect food items from light and oxygen exposure. Wheat berries stored in mylar bags have a shelf life of 10-15 years. Although they are effective for long-term food storage, one major concern are rodents. Unlike mason jars and plastic buckets, rodents can bite through the mylar bag and ruin your batch of wheat berries. So, if you intend to use a mylar bag, make sure to store it in a place out of reach of rodents.
Also, make sure to store it in a cool, dark place. Despite protecting against most environmental aggressors, mylar bags cannot guarantee protection against heat. When using mylar bags, you should always take the precaution of storing them in a place that has a consistent room temperature between 40°F-70°F.
Related Article: How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners
Method 3: Mason Jars
Mason jars are great airtight containers for storing wheat berries. They work perfectly, creating an oxygen barrier and keeping the moisture out. Additionally, they’re healthy and good for the environment because they’re plastic-free.
Mason jars are perfect as an easy grab option. However, they’re fragile and won’t protect your wheat berries from light. Consequently, they’re not a practical solution for storing large quantities of wheat berries.
Related article: Long-Term Food Storage in Mason Jars
Ideal Storage Conditions
As we mentioned before, wheat berries should be stored inside airtight containers in a cool and dry place, with minimum light exposure. Below, we go through the ideal conditions for storing wheat berries:
- Temperature: The average temperature for storing wheat berries is between 40 and 60°F. Of course, the cooler, the better.
- Air: The less air is inside the container, the better. The presence of oxygen can affect the odor and flavor of your stored wheat berries.
- Light: It’s a good idea to store your wheat berries in a dark place or inside an opaque container. Light, like air, can affect the flavor of your wheat berries. That’s why glass containers aren’t the perfect storing option unless you keep them in a dark place.
- Moisture: As mentioned before, the ideal moisture for storing wheat berries is 10% or less. Excess moisture can cause bacterial growth.
- Insects and Rodents: There’s a fair chance of insects ruining your wheat berries if you don’t seal the containers properly. Additionally, rodents can eat through plastic bags. That’s why it’s essential to ensure the bucket’s lid is secured.
Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Hot Climates
How to tell if Wheat Berries are Rancid?
Good wheat berries should be hard, look clean, and have a consistent tan color. Additionally, they should have no or slightly sweet smell. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if the wheat berries have gone bad, but a few indications might help:
- Appearance: Wheat berries are not fit for consumption if they have dark spots or off-colors. You’ll see broken or chewed grains if there is a bug infestation. Additionally, you may spot dead bugs or powdery substances.
- Smell: If your wheat berries smell rotten or moldy, you should avoid using them.
- Flavor: Of course, you won’t know unless you taste them; however, you should stop using your wheat berries if they taste metallic or bitter.
- Touch: Wheat berries should be hard and dry. If they feel soggy or moist, you should get rid of them.
Tools for Preservation
Aside from the previously mentioned mylar bags, plastic buckets, and glass jars, there are a few tools you can use for preserving your wheat berry stock. For example:
- Oxygen Absorbers: They’re great for keeping your bags of wheat berries oxygen-free, which makes it impossible for bugs to live in and prevent oxidation.
- Vacuum Sealer: It could be a replacement for oxygen absorbers. However, it doesn’t work as effectively as air will reenter the bag over time. So, it’s best to combine the use of both tools.
- Mylar Bags Sealer: It seals bags using higher heat than a standard vacuum sealer, as the latter doesn’t provide enough heat to seal mylar bags. An iron or hair straightener can serve as a mylar bag sealer.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous Earth is a treatment for insects that you mix with your wheat berries or any dry foods. It’s completely harmless to humans but kills adult bugs and hatched larvae. However, it doesn’t kill the eggs (source).
Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Long Term Food Storage
Shelf Life of Wheat Berries
When you store wheat berries at a moisture level of 10% or less inside an airtight container, they can last for up to 6 months. However, when you have an excess amount of wheat berries that might go bad, you’d want to store them for longer.
Storing wheat berries in sealed, oxygen-free containers can extend their shelf life to more than 30 years.
When stored properly, wheat berries can last for as long as you have them. Archaeologists have even found viable wheat grains inside ancient Egyptian tombs. That surely has to be more than 30 lifetimes.
|Storage Method (with oxygen absorbers)||Shelf Life of Wheat Berries|
|5-Gallon Bucket||30+ years|
|Mylar Bag||10-15 years|
|Mason Jar||5 years|
People Also Ask
The average adult consumes 180-200 pounds of grains per year, and a 5-gallon bucket weighs about 37 pounds. So you should store about five or six 5-gallon buckets per person in order to maintain your diet.
If you are concerned with insects in your wheat berries, there are two effective methods to kill bugs. Either freeze the grains for 96 hours or store wheat berries with oxygen absorbers. We prefer the oxygen absorber method because it is more effective and time efficient. Insects cannot survive without oxygen, so placing oxygen absorbers in an airtight container will kill all the insects within two weeks.
Related Article: Oxygen Absorbers vs. Silica Gel Packets
Wheat flour can provide greater convenience than wheat berries for making food items since there are fewer steps involved in making a dish. Plus, wheat flour can be stored for over 15 years in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers. However, we should suggest storing wheat berries over wheat flour. Using an at-home mill allows you to make your own freshly milled flour, and it retains more of the nutritional value and flavor in the process. Plus, wheat berries are more durable than flour and are known to have a shelf life of over 30 years.
Related Article: How to Store Quinoa for Maximum Shelf Life
Related Article: How to Store Oats Long Term
No, wheat berries are the whole edible part of the wheat kernel, which includes the bran, endosperm, and germ. Wheat has the external bran and germ removed, so it is only the endosperm. The germ and bran provide nutritional benefits and may change the flavor of dishes by making them sweeter or bitter but also richer. Still, it is not necessary, and to make flour, the most important part of the wheat berry is the endosperm (source).
Yes, wheat berries can be stored in a freezer, although we advise against it. Wheat berries kept in a freezer have a shelf life of 1 year. Storing wheat berries in an airtight container with oxygen absorbers is more effective and has a longer shelf life. Plus, freezer space is valuable, and it can be used to store other foods like meats and berries.
Wheat berries are categorized by their color, red wheat or white wheat. The color is determined by the kernel, which helps determine the flavor. Red wheat is more bitter in taste, and white wheat is sweeter. Despite their differences, they have a similar shelf life and can be stored for over 30 years in a food-grade bucket with oxygen absorbers. Still, keep in mind that the moisture level of wheat berries should not exceed ten percent. Moisture is a threat in storing wheat.
The storage method of farmers is very different from the average prepper or homesteader. Since farmers are harvesting large quantities, they typically store their wheat berries in grain bins. These are often large metal food storage locations with the ability to protect grains against rain and control airflow to adjust the temperature.
Wheat berries are one of the easiest home goods to store. They don’t require much effort, nor do they need many tools. When stored properly in food-grade buckets, they can last over 30 years. The important thing to remember when it comes to storing wheat berries is to secure them in an airtight container, remove any oxygen, and store it in a place that is cool, dry, and dark.
Now that you’ve got the idea of how to store wheat berries for long-term storage, it’s time to start planning for your small project. You might as well expand the idea to explore storing other foods.
Related Article: 6 Best Grains for long-Term Storage
Related Article: How to Store Grains Long-Term
Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Long-Term Food Storage
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.