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Home » Kitchen Tips, Preserving Food

How To Store Wheat (Wheat Berries)

Submitted by on January 14, 2010 – 8:46 pm 36 Comments
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Okay, so I realize I’m not doing these posts in order of relevance (ie: what are wheat berries, where do you get them, how do you use them, how do you store them, etc.), but I’m just gonna post as I myself learn (which is usually backwards!). So, now that I’ve gone to the mill and made my first purchase of wheat berries I’m at the “how to store them” part. I promise to cover the related topics soon.

wheat berries (2)

Here is one of the 100 lb. sacks of wheat from the mill, and one of the buckets we are using to store the wheat in. We got our buckets from the bakery at the grocery store. Almost every day my husband would go to the bakery and ask them if they had any empty icing buckets. Sometimes they would not have any, sometimes they would, and sometimes they’d try to sell them to us! The stores in our neck of the woods sell them for like $3 each, probably ’cause so many people around here ask for them. But a short drive into town usually scored us some free buckets. We’d take any size, but the 5 and 6-gallon buckets are what we really want. At times we’d get some buckets with no lids, which is a bummer ’cause you kinda need lids, but we’d take them anyways.

When looking for a bucket to store your grains in, you need to make sure that you use a food grade plastic bucket. You can’t just run to Home Depot and buy buckets. On the bottom of a food grade bucket will be an HDPE, with a number two within a triangle of arrows. I’ve read that the colored buckets, even if they have the #2 on them, are not safe. If you wanna be safe, get white buckets.

We also bought Gamma Seal lids to go with our buckets… for two reasons. The first was that we didn’t have lids for all of the 6 gallon buckets, and needed some. The second was that the Gamma Seals are excellent for food storage, as they are airtight and leak proof. Plus, they screw on and off super easy. And the best part about them, in my opinion, is that they are probably the only thing in my home that is actually made in the USA! Imagine that. They are a bit pricey (like $7 each!), but I figure if we’re gonna be storing food long term we’d better do it right.

For those of you who have never seen wheat berries, let me open my sack of wheat to give you a peak:

wheat berries (3)

Go ahead, look a little closer…

wheat berries (4)

Cool, huh? This is what is ground to make flour.

I don’t know if all wheat looks the same, but this is soft white winter wheat. There are other kinds of wheat, like hard red winter wheat. Each is good for a particular kind of baking. The soft white winter wheat is a pastry wheat, good for biscuits, pancakes, quick breads… stuff like that. It isn’t good for baking regular loaves of bread though. I’d really like to get some hard wheat for loaves, but it’s a bit more expensive since it isn’t grown locally. Speaking of which, I love that the wheat I’m buying at the mill is locally grown!

wheat berries (1)

Another thing you’ll need when storing food long term is something to keep the bugs from infesting your stash. We’re using these oxygen absorbers. They come in a vacuumed bag like this. The pink little tablet you can see in the picture tells you that the packs have not been exposed to the air. Once you open that vacuum sealed pack the oxygen absorbers will begin working, and the pill will start turning dark.

The purpose of these little packets is to absorb all of the oxygen from your bucket, making it impossible for any little critters to hatch or survive in your food. You have around 15 – 30 min. to get the packets into your bucket and seal the bucket before they are finished absorbing their capacity and are rendered useless.

The amount of oxygen absorbers you need depends on the size of your buckets. For 6 gallon buckets it is recommended that you use approx. 2000cc’s of oxygen absorbers. Since we bought packs of ten 500cc absorbers, we used 3-4 absorbers per 6 gallon bucket. You can read a lot more about how many packs you need per bucket HERE.

wheat berries (5)

I like to put some packs in the bottom of the bucket, and some on top before screwing the lid on. You don’t need to open the packs or anything, just drop them in. But remember to get the buckets sealed pretty quickly!

*TIP: If you have some unused oxygen absorber packets leftover, you can store them in a small mason jar, with a tightly screwed on lid. The packs will absorb a little oxygen, but will still have some absorbing ability as long as you keep them in an airtight container until ready to use.

wheat berries 6 (Medium)

Here’s my first batch of stored wheat. It took six 6-gallon buckets filled to the rim to store 200 lbs. of wheat berries. I did, however, leave out a little bit to grind into flour, which I’ve never done before. But that, my friends, will have to be another post!

Got any questions or tips? I’d love to hear what you think!

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36 Comments »

  • Coy says:

    So does the D.E. work because I want to be able to sprout the wheat berries later has anyone tried this successfully? I know it is supposed to kill bugs so I don’t see why not?

  • laurie says:

    Hello! I wwas recently given two, five gallon buckets or wheat. One is hard red and the other is white. They came strait fro the farmer and were left over from planting season. My question is how do i clean them before sealing them up for long term storage? I can not seem to find any information on this. I would appreciate and help you could give me. Thank you, :)

  • John Mulshine says:

    Not sure if you got an answer about what makes up dry ice, but dry ice is completely CO2 gas…frozen…if you put it in the bucket, it will chase all the oxygen out….but of course the bucket can’t be airtight, or else the expansion of the dry ice would cause it to explode…

  • Katie says:

    Thanks Kendra! No need to be sorry – I just want to make sure they are done right!

  • Katie says:

    Question- When you use the oxygen absorber in the mylar bags do they shrink up like they are vacuum sealed? I have one bag out of 8 that looks a bit more “sucked in” and the others still look “air-y.” I”m wondering if my oxygen absorbers are bad, even though they came out of a sealed bag. Either that or my seals aren’t good (using an impact heat sealer).

  • Robert says:

    In response to placing plastic storage containers on cement floors I do know that gasoline absorbs moister through the plastic container when kept on a garage floor – go figure. I have a question regarding a source of wheat berries. A local garden seed store has 1 – 50 lb bag of untreated red winter wheat berries for 20 bucks. Are they suitable for milling?

    Robert

  • Wes says:

    Hi Kendra,
    I just came across your blog and love it!
    I know I’m late in chiming in, but I think I can give an answer about the dry ice. Dry ice is just carbon dioxide (same as what we exhale) that has been cooled to the point that it freezes). When you put it in the bucket it warms up and turns into gas CO2. In doing so, it fills the air spaces of the bucket, pushing oxygen out.

  • carrie says:

    How long can you store Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries if stored properly?

    Thanks for the oxygen tips!! Another tip is to store the buckets on wood, if you’re storing them on a cement foundation. The moisture can absorb into these 5 gallon food grade buckets. Hard to beleive, isn’t it?

  • Annette says:

    My friend puts dry ice in her bucket of grain. She says it prevents bugs and preserves. I suppose dry ice uses all the oxygen. Have you heard of this?

  • jackie brown says:

    Great post, I got a whisper meal from a friend, and I’m ordering from Something Better thru a friend. A friend of mine stores her in mylar bags with the oxygen thing. Is this oxygen packet you’re using a must? or the gamma lids a must. Could you use one or the other? Do you order just hard white wheat or soft white wheat too? I bought 50 pounds, so I would need three buckets? is that right based on your pic?

    • Jackie,

      The oxygen packets are definitely a must if you aren’t going to be using Diatomaceous Earth. I’m going to buy some mylar bags too, as I’m beginning to feel that it’s better to have them than not. The gamma lids are a luxury… you do not need them. You do, however, need to make sure that you have a rubber gasket on the lid for the bucket. Plastic on plastic will not work. Two 5 or 6 gallon buckets should be big enough for 50 lbs of wheat. I’ve ordered hard and soft wheat. The advantage of soft white wheat is that it’s generally cheaper and can be used for breads which don’t require yeast. You can use hard white wheat for any recipe though, it’s just a little more expensive. I buy both to save money. :)

  • Rene Ehrhardt says:

    Siana, try this site; http://www.woodstoves.net/flameview.htm Kendra, Have you tried to grow your own wheat yet?

  • Rene Ehrhardt says:

    I was told to put a couple of bay leaves with the berries to keep the bugs away. I don’t know if it works yet since I am needing to buy another sack of wheat, but my last bucket, (gallon size), from my last batch did have bugs in it. I fed it to my chickens.

  • Siana says:

    I have a question, do you know of any kind of good wood stove that I could use for cooking and baking like the bread in case of an emergency? Thank you.

  • Priscilla says:

    I’ve had a grain mill for 4 & 1/2 yrs now. I’m about to get started with long term storage by putting grain into mylar bags w/oxygen absorber and sealing the bags. My concern is the grain, that I have which maybe a few years old, if I don’t see any bugs…do I still go ahead, seal & store OR do I need to store buckets in the garage (temp. in the teens here, winter time) before sealing them?

    I had a 50 lb bag of millet, about 1/2 gone when I discovered tiny tiny little bug (smaller than grease ant, tan in color? almost clear) one way I detected ‘if’ there was any in the 2nd small container was to run my hand through it and then pulled my hand up…and I could see them on my hand :( When I 1st got the grain, I put them into small containers…some were big plastic deli containers (maybe held 5 or 10 lbs). I don’t know if the containers sealed well, I think bugs may have gotten into it, not sure. 1 small glass container was fine.

    I have not yet checked the rest of our grain buckets to see if the rest of the grains are safe. If I store grain in a mylar bag, would the oxygen absorber take care of any possible bugs in the grain? Any additional suggestions, would be appreciated. Thank You!

    • Priscilla,

      If the older grain doesn’t have any bugs in it, yes, definitely go ahead and seal and store using the mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. They oxygen absorbers will make it impossible for any eggs to hatch in your wheat. Make sure you have them sealed well though. And don’t store the buckets in a garage long term, where they will be exposed to heat/cold/heat/cold. The condensation will build up inside the buckets and spoil the wheat.

  • Yvonne says:

    Hi
    I noticed you were stacking your buckets with gamma seal lids. I actually called and asked the company if I could do that. They recommended that I did not but put a board over the top of the buckets before adding some on top. They say the lids are not intended to bear weight.
    Great tips and Blog – thanks!

  • Natalie says:

    We just did our long term food storage. We got a variety of rice and grains. We put the grains in mylar bags, and then into a bucket, mixed in food grade d. earth, put in oxygen absorbers, ironed a portion of the bag closed and sucked out the air with our vacuum, then ironed it the rest of the way closed. I didnt do any research first, just listened to some friends of ours who did the same thing, after they did their own research. Maybe it was overkill, but i guess at least its really protected from the elements. Im planning to do what you did for short term stuff that I’ll be grinding.

  • Joanne says:

    Hi all. Just wanted to share that 10 years ago I stored wheat berries (don’t remember what kind). I’ve got them in a plastic bag inside those tight lid plastic containers. Last month I got curious to see what the wheat looked like and opened one. To my surprise the berries had broken down and turned into flour in the middle of the container. Now I’m not sure what to do. Is it still good? Should I start over? I didn’t see any evidence of any bugs. I didn’t use any any oxygen packs or that organic earth people are talking about. Does anyone know if any harmful chemistry occurs when the wheat breaks down like that? MUCH thanks.

  • Bram says:

    A lot to do about storing the wheat! Myself, I just store it in a paper bag, nothing to it, just in the basement. As long as your wheat stays dry, you shouldn’t have any problem. As for bugs and vermin, I only think you should worry a lot about mice and rats. Bugs won’t eat the whole berries when it is dry. They have found wheat in the Egyptian pyramids that was perfectly edible! (Once ground it does get bad quite quickly, and bugs might become a problem then).

    What kind of mill do you use? I have a small hand-mill, it takes me 20 minutes to grind 1lb. flour. I read that your first intend was to buy 500lbs. That’s a lot! What are you going to use the wheat for? Just for baking? Myself, my wife and our 2,5 year daughter (the 1-year old doesn’t eat a lot of bread…) eat about three breads a week, that’s 3lbs. of flour. I think, if you bake all your bread from your own wheat, your 200lbs supply should last for about a year.

    I’ve bought my wheat (just 30lbsto start with) at a local wholesaler’s, since I was to late to buy it from a local farmer (they sell their harvest almost entirely very soon after they got it off the field). I arranged with him that he would tell me when he is going to harvest this year, and I’ll buy my supply directl from him. That might also be a good idea for all the people here looking for a large amount of wheat (or any other produce). Get to know any local farmers!

    Good luck grinding and baking!

  • Beth says:

    I am just starting this also! I am ordering with a Mormon church in my area and we are ordering from Montana Wheat. There has to be a 5000 lb min. in order for them to send a truck out and deliver it. I got a sample of the ground wheat today and some wheat berries. So excited to try making some bread. it is the red winter wheat. I am also buying some other wheat berries to mix in because I hear it makes the bread better.

  • juju_mommy says:

    I think that is why I love your blog so much – because we are learning together! LOL

    I’ve been having a wheat grinder for a while. Already bought 3 gamma lids, a pack of 10 oxygen obsorbers and got 4 (I think) food grade buckets and lids from the local bakery. I have a couple #10 cans of wheat I bought to try out but haven’t done so yet. As soon as budget allows, I’m going to be making a large bulk purchase of wheat myself and packaging it too.

    A tip for readers who are short on storage space… I was searching around our small, 2 bed room mobile home for yet another “stash spot” for the buckets once I have them filled and need to store. Well, came up with a great idea to put them behind our sectional couch! I pulled them up some, put the empty buckets behind them to see how it looked and you can’t tell! It’s great because it’s out of the way, making use of dead space (they have to be pulled out some anyway for the recliners to work) and it’s not obvious to visitors.

    I’ve also read about people putting them under their bed. I’m sure that would make ours a littel too tall considering we have low ceilings to start with. But it’s an idea…

    • juju_mommy,

      Great storage ideas! Addy also lives in a single wide, and they have their beds built up to allow buckets for storage underneath them. I believe they are smaller buckets though, not the 5-6 gallon ones. She also had her husband build shelves where her dryer used to be in the laundry area. Shelves in closets make great use of dead space. One could also make a skirt of fabric to go around the bottom of a table to hide stuff under there too.

  • KimL says:

    Here’s a site you might like…. http://www.crockettscorner.com/
    Lots of wheat cooking tips and a dvd too. I’m not affiliated with them, just enjoyed their DVD for basic information on what to do with the wheat berries!

  • Pam W. says:

    Enjoyed your post, especially since we are about to buy wheat berries in quantity to store and were also just researching buckets online the other night. We came up with the same info that you posted about the buckets. One thing we also read was that if you want to be able to possibly sprout any of the berries later (which we might, if we are ever in a situation where we need to plant and grow more wheat for ourselves), the oxygen packets apparently do something to the berries so they won’t be able to sprout. So in our case, we are going to go with using the food grade diatomaceous earth. We’ve read a lot about it, and for us, it sounds like the way to go. So if you guys might want to have some berries on hand for possible future planting, you may also want to consider storing at least some with the d. earth next time you buy berries. By the way, you had mentioned that the man at the mill said he got his from the pool supply store–I read online that you should only get the kind that is food grade (which isn’t very expensive) and never from the pool store because it might have toxins or something like that. Apparently the guy is still alive after all these years, though, ha ha! Well, wow, it’s nice learning from each other about these things, and it was interesting to see how many buckets it takes to hold 200 pounds of berries. :-)

  • Sarah B says:

    That’s totally cool. Do you know how long that will last your family if there were no grocery stores?

  • Angela says:

    Looks great! :) You can also get hard white wheat for bread which I like better than the hard red. It makes a little lighter colored and not so “heavy” loaf of bread. So when you do get the hard wheat, you might try some white and some red and see what you like before you buy a bunch of either.

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