Wheat is a basic staple and an essential dry good in your survival food supply. Bread, cereal, pasta, muffins, pancakes, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pizza, pastries, and just about everything delicious contains wheat. Flour is even used to thicken gravies.
Why Should I Include Wheat in my Long-Term Food Supply?
- Wheat is a basic grain and an essential ingredient in many foods.
- Wheat is high in protein, fiber, calcium, and iron.
- Wheat can be sprouted to increase nutrition and supply vitamins A, B, C, and E.
- Wheat has an incredibly long shelf life of over 30 years when it is stored correctly.
- Wheat, as well as other grains, are a great source of calories and nutrition and will insure against hunger during hard times.
Which Varieties of Wheat Store Best
Select varieties of hard red or white wheat for long-term storage. The moisture level should be less than 10 percent. Moisture is an enemy of stored wheat. According to the USU Extension Office:
- Moisture levels above 12 percent causes chemical degradation.
- Moisture levels above 15 percent may allow mold to grow.
- Moisture levels at 20 percent may allow bacteria to grow.
Purchase low moisture wheat and be sure to protect it from moisture in storage.
The Difference Between Red Wheat and White Wheat
Red wheat has a strong flavor and makes a good, hearty artisan loaf of bread. It is higher in protein than white wheat and contains more gluten. Red wheat is commonly used in cereal, tortillas, flatbreads, and all-purpose flour.
White wheat is milder and sweeter than red wheat. It makes a soft loaf of bread and has less protein than red wheat. White wheat is used in pastries, cookies, and crackers.
I prefer to use white wheat because I think it tastes better and is easier on the tummy than red wheat. Jonathan likes to use red wheat flour in his waffles. We store both red wheat and white wheat in our long-term food storage. We rotate through our wheat by using it on a regular basis.
The Difference Between Hard Wheat and Soft Wheat
Hard wheat is higher in gluten, a naturally occurring protein, so it makes better breads and pasta.
Soft wheat is lower in gluten (protein) and is ideal for pastries and fine flour.
Where to Purchase Wheat
Once you start looking around, you will find many good sources for quality wheat.
- Local farmers sell wheat in bulk. The downside is that this wheat may need to be cleaned before it can be stored or used. I purchase most of our wheat from a local farmer. It is cleaned and packaged in 5-gallon buckets for long term storage.
- Never purchase seed wheat for storage! It has been treated with toxic chemicals and is not safe for consumption.
- Health food stores will often sell a variety of grains, including wheat in bulk.
- Retailers like Costco and WinCo will often have bulk wheat for sale. Our local Costco occasionally sells buckets of wheat packaged for long-term storage. Local demand dictates what stores in your area will carry.
- Food storage retailers usually carry wheat packaged and ready for long-term storage. We recommend Augason Farms. Click on the link for hard white wheat in buckets and here for hard red wheat in buckets.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sells #10 cans of both red wheat and white wheat that are packaged for long-term storage. You can purchase them at a local Home Storage Center or order them online from Church Distribution.
- Amazon also has several vendors that sell wheat in buckets ready for storage, or in bulk.
How to Package Wheat for Long Term Storage
Wheat should be packaged in an airtight container to protect it from moisture and air. It is also a good idea to treat the wheat with a reliable method to protect against insect infestation.
Good Containers for Packaging Wheat for Storage
Optimal shelf life can be obtained when wheat berries are packaged correctly. Some containers are better than others but any of these containers can be used for storing wheat berries.
In my opinion, #10 cans will provide the best protection for stored wheat. The can creates a time capsule that protects the wheat from oxygen, moisture, rodents, and light. You can expect a shelf life of 30 years (or more) for wheat that is stored in a #10 can in a cool, dry, dark location.
Mylar Bag Lined Plastic Bucket
The next best way to store wheat berries is in a plastic bucket that has been lined with a Mylar bag. The plastic bucket gives shape to the Mylar bag and protects it from rodents. The Mylar bag provides a better moisture and oxygen barrier than the bucket does alone.
Place a 2000cc or 2500cc oxygen absorber in the Mylar bag and squeeze out the excess air. Seal the Mylar bag with an impulse sealer or flat iron. Then secure the lid on the plastic bucket. Be sure to label both the Mylar bag and the plastic bucket with a permanent marker, include the date and description of the contents (i.e. hard white wheat, 2021).
Plastic Bucket with Air-Tight Lid
We store a lot of our wheat in plastic buckets with an airtight lid because we rotate through it regularly. Plastic buckets allow a slow permeation of oxygen through the walls of the plastic over time. It is best to treat wheat in buckets with the dry ice method. Click here to learn how.
Store the buckets in a cool, dry, dark location and you can expect at least a 20-year shelf life, probably longer. Plastic buckets should not be stored directly on concrete. We like to store ours on small homemade pallets. Stacking buckets more than 3 high may break the seal and compromise the wheat.
Mylar bags provide a good moisture and oxygen barrier to protect the wheat during storage. However, it is wise to store the Mylar bags inside of a rodent-resistant container such as a plastic bucket, plastic tote, or metal garbage can. Rodents can quickly chew through Mylar bags and destroy your food supply.
Extend the shelf life of wheat and protect it from insects by placing a 300 cc oxygen absorber in a one-gallon Mylar bag. You can expect a 25-year shelf life for wheat stored in a Mylar bag in a cool, dry, dark location that is protected from rodents.
Learn more about the long-term storage of foods in Mylar bags in this post, How to Package Dry Foods in Mylar Bags for Long Term Storage.
Polyethylene or Plastic Vacuum Sealed Bags
Wheat can be purchased in 25-pound polyethylene bags. On the bag, it states that it has an 18-month shelf life. Plastic bags are subject to rodent issues, light, and are generally good only for short-term storage. Placing plastic bags of wheat inside a secondary container such as a plastic bucket, plastic tote, or metal garbage can will help to protect it from both rodents and light.
Vacuum sealed bags of wheat berries are good for short-term storage. It is the plastic packaging that limits the life of the wheat. If you seal vacuum-sealed bags of wheat berries and then place them inside of a plastic bucket with an air-tight lid you will significantly extend the shelf life of the wheat.
Plastic or PETE Bottles
One of my favorite sayings is, “Good enough is perfect!” Ideally, I would store wheat in a #10 can or inside of a plastic bucket with a Mylar bag lining. That would be the ideal way to store wheat in my long-term storage. However, sometimes I need to take the “good enough” option, and repurposed plastic PETE bottles such as soda or juice bottles will work fine.
Store the bottles in a cool, dry place away from light. Ideally, store wheat with an oxygen absorber but you can use the freeze/thaw/freeze method to take care of bugs. All of the details are explained in this post, Packaging Dry Foods in Plastic Bottles for Long Term Food Storage.
Glass jars are fragile and do not protect the wheat from light. Other than that, they are the perfect container. The glass creates a true oxygen barrier and protects the wheat from both moisture and oxygen. Learn how to use both mason jars and repurposed jars to store wheat in our post, Packaging Dry Foods in Glass Jars for Long Term Food Storage.
Ideal Storage Conditions for Wheat
Wheat should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark location. The cooler the temperature, the longer the wheat will retain its original quality. Ideally, wheat should be stored between 40-60°F, which is just about the temperature in a good root cellar.
Basements are your next best option as they tend to be cooler than the main floor of a house. Wheat can be stored at room temperature with good success. Avoid storing wheat in hot garages or attics as heat will significantly reduce the shelf life.
Insect Control for Stored Wheat
Insects can quickly destroy your stored wheat. It is worth the time and effort to make sure that you protect your food from insects. Below are some treatment methods that you may want to consider along with a few that would be best to avoid.
You can choose not to treat wheat before storing it. Make sure that you purchase insect-free wheat. It is hard to know for certain if your wheat is free from eggs.
Oxygen absorbers are an effective way to control both insects and eggs in stored wheat. They create an environment where it is not possible for insects to survive. You can purchase oxygen absorbers from Wallaby’s here. Use the promo code PROVIDENT5 to get $5 off your order.
Vacuum sealing in mason jars, vacuum-sealable Mylar bags (long-term storage), or vacuum bags (short-term storage) is an effective treatment for storing wheat.
Dry Ice Treatment
Dry Ice (CO2) is an effective treatment for wheat. Dry ice can be purchased at many grocery stores, but you may need to ask. It will kill adult insects and larvae, but may not take care of eggs. You can learn how to use dry ice as a treatment method here.
Freezing does not damage grain as heating does. Take care of insects by freezing up to 15 pounds in a moisture-proof container for 2-3 days. Take the package out of the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Refreeze for 2-3 additional days. Allow it to return to room temperature before packaging for long-term storage.
Freezing will kill live insects, but not the eggs. The warming cycle encourages eggs to hatch so the next freezing cycle will kill them. If you are using oxygen absorbers or vacuum sealing you do not need to freeze because insects are unable to thrive without oxygen.
Wheat may be treated for insects by mixing 1 cup of diatomaceous earth with 40 pounds of wheat berries. Be sure to avoid breathing in the dust while mixing. It has no taste and is not harmful to humans. Personally, I do not use this method because I don’t like mixing anything in with my food.
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural substance that comes in the form of a white powder. It is produced from the fossilized remains of marine diatoms. It has sharp microscopic spines, making it hazardous to exoskeletal insects. The spines create microscopic wounds in the insects, resulting in their death. Creatures with internal skeletons (like us) are unaffected by the diatom shells.
There are different forms of diatomaceous earth, some of which are dangerous to humans. Do not use the kind intended for pool filters. Safe forms may be purchased at your local feed store, garden center, hardware store, or check online prices here.
Diatomaceous earth does not kill eggs or pupae until after they have become adult insects. That means you will have dead insects in your grain when you use this method, but better dead than alive!
The USU Extension Office does not recommend the following treatments to control insects in stored wheat. They are either unsafe or ineffective.
- Bay leaves
What Happens as Wheat Ages in Storage?
Wheat has a long shelf life. When stored correctly, it will remain edible for over 30 years. As wheat berries age, the gluten content (protein) in the wheat degrades. Bread made with older wheat will not raise as well as bread made from fresh wheat.
New wheat has a high germination rate and can be sprouted to increase nutritional value. As wheat ages, the germination rate will decrease. Correct storage conditions will significantly extend the quality and shelf life of wheat.
We tested a variety of stored wheat to see if it would germinate after many years. Check out what we learned at; Super Survival Sprouts: Powerful Nutrition from Your Stored Wheat.
One Year Supply of Wheat for One Person
Basic survival rations of grain for a year supply for one person is 300-400 pounds. Ideally, a diverse supply of grains including wheat, white rice, rolled oats, pasta, and other grains will help satisfy nutritional requirements. The USU Extension office recommends 150 pounds of wheat for an adult for one year.
You can learn more about building your food storage in our post, Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset.
Why I Store Wheat in My Long-Term Food Storage
Wheat can be ground into flour, cracked for cereals, or cooked whole. Many people are unfamiliar with wheat berries because they purchase wheat in the form of flour or prepared products.
We are grinding wheat regularly to make bread, pancakes, waffles, muffins, cakes, and a host of other delicious foods. Grinding wheat berries to make fresh whole wheat flour improves both taste and nutrition. The smell of home-baked bread is a delight.
Learn more about using whole wheat berries in these posts:
- Incredible Survival (and Daily) Bread Using Only Wheat, Salt and Water
- Super Survival Sprouts: Powerful Nutrition from Your Stored Wheat
- Food Storage: The Actual Shelf-Life of White Flour
- Selecting the Right Grain Mill for Emergency and Everyday Use
Don’t be afraid to store and use wheat. With the right tool, grinding wheat into flour is quick and easy. It has an incredibly long shelf life and can provide hunger insurance for your family for many years.
Thanks for being part of the solution!Jonathan and Kylene Jones