Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Practical Prepper
Today's topic is technically part of an overarching series related to whole grains that we're running on our other blog, Self-Reliant Info. The series is titled Grain Week, and it covers the common, useful whole grains, some mills for grinding them, and recipes and ways to incorporate whole grains into your diet.
Whole grains are great for preparedness because they have a great shelf life that's measured in years under the right storage conditions.
However, before we get into discussion the shelf life for various grains and how to store them, it's worth pointing out that it's not a good idea to buy wheat (or any other grain) with the intent of letting it sit on the shelf for decades. Rather, it's better to use the grains as a part of your everyday lifestyle. You can do that, and just have the security of knowing that your properly stored wheat will be good when you need it.
In any event, there are many good online resources discussing grains' shelf life, but one of the best is usaemergencysupply.com's storage life explanations, summarized below:
Soft Grains: These have softer outer shells that don't protect the seed interior as well as hard-shelled seeds and therefore won't store as long. Hermetically sealed, in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 8 years at a stable temperature of 70°F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures:
- Hulled or
- Pearled Oat
- Rolled Oats
Hard Grains: These all store well because of their hard outer shell which is nature's nearly perfect container. Remove that container and the contents rapidly deteriorate. Wheat, probably nature's longest storing seed, has been known to be edible after scores of years when stored in a cool, dry place. As a general rule for hard grains, hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, you can plan on a storage life of 10-12 years at a stable temperature of 70°F. They should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
- Corn, Dry
- Durum wheat
- Hard red wheat
- Hard white wheat
- Soft wheat
- Special bake wheat
Brown and White Rice: Brown and white rice store very differently. Brown rice is only expected to store for 6 months under average conditions. This is because of the essential fatty acids in brown rice. These oils quickly go rancid as they oxidize. It will store much longer if refrigerated. White rice has the outer shell removed along with those fats. Because of this, white rice isn't nearly as good for you, but will store longer. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life for white rice of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70°F. It should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures. Stored in the absence of oxygen, brown rice will last longer than if it was stored in air. Plan on 1 to 2 years. It is very important to store brown rice as cool as possible, for if you can get the temperature down another ten degrees, it will double the storage life again.
As the above indicates, it is possible for some grains to store even longer. The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), who has preparedness as a core tenet, keeps up on what stores best. You can read more on the main LDS website about Foods Lasting 30 Years or More. You can find links to more information on very long-term storage of dry goods on the grandpappy.info site.
Of course, you can buy bulk grains packaged for long-term storage. For example, you can buy Thrive's Hard White Winter Wheat in 40-pound buckets that will last 30 years, if unopened. They do drop the estimate to 2 years after opening the bucket, but with a little care and the right storage conditions, you could extend that.
Of course, you can buy bulk grain that's not prepackaged and store it yourself too. An excellent resource that discusses such storage methods is the Utah State University Extension Publication EC 371, Home Storage of Wheat (a free PDF download). It's focused on wheat, but the storage methods can be used for comparable grains.
For the really self-reliant, growing your own grains may be the way to go. For those interested, Gene Logsdon's book, Small-Scale Grain Raising, will be of interest. As the book's description states, the second edition offers "the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers." Logsdon covers planting grains and dealing with pests, weeds, and diseases, as well as harvesting, processing, storing, and using whole grains.
Are whole grains part of your diet, and a part of your preparedness plans? Have you grown grains on a small scale? If so, please share your experiences below.
Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!
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