By its very nature, wheat is able to be stored for prolonged periods of time. Flour will become rancid within 72 hours unless most of the nutrition is stripped out (as with store bought flour, white or whole wheat), but wheat, if left whole, can last for decades. There are even news reports of wheat found in Egyptian tombs that could still be sprouted (that is, it was still a living seed!).
When asked by our customers what they need in order to store wheat, we ask the conditions under which the wheat will be stored in their homes.
To store wheat effectively, it must be kept fresh, free of bugs and rodents. Temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity level below 40% are ideal for this, along with a secure container to eliminate infestation or the introduction of additional moisture.
Many homes can store wheat in the bags in which we sell it. As long as the bags are kept dry, off of bare concrete floors and presuming that rodents are not a threat, the grain can remain fresh for many years.
If rodents and insects are a worry, plastic buckets are a wonderful deterrent. Some folks I’ve talked to (generally folks selling them) insist on using mylar bags inside of the buckets – if you’re having extreme issues with rodents, the mylar bags can completely block the smell of wheat. Personally, over the last 10 years, we’ve never had a rodent attack a bucket – but if you’re looking for the ultimate in protection, they’re worth considering although at almost $12 each, it’s an expensive layer of protection.
In humid climates, moisture can be held at bay with a treatment of dry ice. Simply add 3-4 inches of grain to the empty bucket add a layer of dry ice and top the ice with grain until the bucket is full. Close the bucket with the lid, but don’t seal for 15 minutes, until the dry ice has had a chance to evaporate. Oxygen absorbers can also be used effectively, although some report that wheat will not sprout if these absorbers have been used.
These buckets are also great for stacking wheat in storage areas – we’ve even had customers who use these in unobtrusive areas of the home. Some have told us they use these buckets topped with a decorative cloth as a substitute end table! We’ve even seen bookcases made using buckets – a very creative way to find space for wheat and books!
There are many other methods of storing grain long term – canning, vacuum sealing and freezing. It has been our experience that buckets and dry ice or oxygen absorbers is sufficient in most cases.