Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wheat/Grain Storage

I certainly don't know everything about wheat and grains, but that's what we use here exclusively now.

We buy our wheat berries in bulk, 50# bags at a time. I don't have fancy sealed mylar bags, sealed buckets, oxygen absorbers, or such to store mine in. My bags of wheat come home and go straight to the freezer for a while. I have one freezer that thinks it's a colder-than-normal refrigerator, not cold enough for real freeze storage, though. That's where my bags are stored.

When I'm out in the pantry, a bag comes in and gets emptied into the food-grade 5 gallon buckets I have from various deli and bakery sources. They seal well enough, but I imagine the 'special grain buckets' you can order seal better.

I've never had bug problems with my wheat berries, but mine are in cold storage until needed in the kitchen.

If you have bugs in the wheat -- can they be sifted out fully? Someone once mentioned washing the wheat and drying it thoroughly. I'm not sure how that would work without opening up to potential mold issues.

I know wheat and grains can be kept pretty much indefinitely if checked regularly and stored properly. Off-grid, I don't know how I'd store wheat in bulk, especially here in the South with the level of humidity and bug counts. I know folks do it, I just don't know what would work best for long term storage.

You can always crack the wheat and feed the various farm animals with it so it's not a total loss, but using it myself, I'd have to say it's just money down the drain. Best to start again, maybe storing in smaller amounts to help prevent spoilage?


Liz said...

I did the bag deal once myself. I was still new to the grain bit and didn't know much at all. Bought it halves with a friend back in the big city. She didn't know anything either. Bugs got it. We didn't know we could do anything about it, and from her description (it was at her house) I don't think I would have wanted to do anything about it if we could. LOL

Needless to say, the next time I bought grain it was in buckets!! I don't have freezer space. Hey, don't have a freezer except with the frig, so buckets and a couple of extra dollars for the mylar treatment has been worth it. Slowly collecting buckets and gamma seals for storage. May try ordering big bags later to repack my own. We have no place locally to buy organic grain. Since I can see the crop sprayer at work, I just haven't gotten up the nerve to try to buy from the elevator. My husband used to farm wheat here. You better believe he gives me fits for gettin' mine from UPS!! LOL But he never complains about the homemade bread!

The other thing that concerns me about buying in bags(besides it getting torn up in shipping) is, I don't know how long it has been bagged and where it has been stored. I'm hoping that if I buy it from a volume dealer that they will have paid closer attention to storage, etc. I hope. I have been very pleased with Walton's over the years.

I have no face-to-face friends who buy and mill their own grain, so I just do the best I can to guarantee success. Still paying less than buying baked goods at the store, and the quality and freshness is certainly better.

If I could find a better deal, I'd sure go for it. We don't have farmers' markets, coops, even a health food shop. Got any ideas? I've thought about calling your Harvest Time, but I haven't found anybody who can beat Walton's. Sorry to go so long, but I'd really like to do something better if I could. Any ideas?

Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" said...

I don't know about the humidity, (I live in the desert) but I store my wheat in 5 gallon plastic buckets in my basement. I don't use mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. I got wheat from my in-laws that had been stored for 30 years just in plastic buckets with a bay leaf inside (to keep critters out) and it was perfectly good. I ground it up and baked bread. :) Wheat is very forgiving.

Bean said...

How did people store wheat 100 years ago, 500 years ago? I wonder if you can find a book about the history of food storage. Obviously food was stored by our ancestors, and had to be stored well or starve to death, and they stored it without canning jars, pressure canners, hot water canners, zip lock bags, freezers, plastic buckets or any other nifty things we have today :) I guess I would check out some history books from the library. Another option if you are living off the grid is to get a propane refrigerator/freezer, all of the Amish in our area use them. They are very expensive new, so used is probably the way to go, they refrigerate well, and use no electricity, so there is no light when you open the door ;)

daydreamer81 said...

I am also learning about food storage, I have just started out on the journey of self-sufficiancy. If anyone finds a book on the history of food storage please let me know. I want to learn the old way of doing things. I will ask my neigbors about how they store their wheat. I live in the mountains of WNC and my neighbors have a farm. I am sure they will know about good storage.

Hearth said...

If you're worried about grain moths, tight storage does nada to keep them out.

Putting them in the freezer like you are already doing, or in the oven on low for a little while before storage will kill the eggs that *are* in your grain.

If you have grain moth caterpillars in your grain, you could sift it out, but honestly they're kinda squishy so... :p better to feed them to the animals!

But when the grain is just webby, it's totally useable. This goes for whole-grain flours and stuff too. They were uninterested in my white flour.

(I had a major grain moth infestation after I broke my foot and couldn't keep my normal grains cooked/eaten up. Am in the process of being very vigilant until the cycling of life brings their numbers back down to managability again, should be a couple of years 'til all the eggs hatch/get killed/starve out and I can store grains for more than a couple of months again).


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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