Recently we taught a food storage class for the Civil Defense Volunteers of Utah and discovered that there is some controversy over whether or not grains stored with an oxygen absorber will retain the ability to sprout. Sprouting may be vital to good nutrition in a survival scenario because it produces critical nutrients such as Vitamin C. In honor of our friends, we conducted this experiment.
Will wheat stored long term with an oxygen absorber remain viable for sprouting? In our experiment, both samples of wheat that were stored with an oxygen absorber sprouted quite nicely. The photo evidence below conclusively debunks the myth that oxygen absorbers inhibit sprouting. Oxygen absorbers create the perfect environment for storing wheat for both grinding and sprouting.
Why Sprout Wheat Before Consuming?
Sprouting changes the wheat berries into living plants that improve the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals and makes the wheat easier to digest.
- One cup of sprouted wheat berries is packed with amino acids and contains 8 grams of protein, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of healthy fat.
- Wheat berry sprouts contain Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, and Pantothenic Acid. They also contain Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, and Selenium.
- You can take sprouting a step further and include stored legumes to create even more nutritious food. Ezekiel 4:9 bread is made from sprouted wheat, barley, lentils, soybeans, and spelt. The combination of sprouted grains and legumes together is a perfect nutritional combination.
- Growing wheat berries into wheatgrass and juicing the grass tops may enable gluten intolerant individuals to consume stored grain.
- Sprouting wheat breaks down the starch and lowers the carbohydrate content. It also increases the fiber content. The combination has a lower impact on blood sugar and makes it a better choice for diabetics.
Will Wheat Stored in a #10 Can With an Oxygen Absorber Sprout?
In a survival situation, the ability to sprout can increase the nutrient content of stored grains. We decided to experiment with varieties of wheat berries that we had in our personal food storage and see how well they sprouted. We had heard rumors that wheat stored in a #10 can with an oxygen absorber will not sprout. We decided to test that theory.
Will your old stored wheat sprout? You may be interested in the results of our little experiment.
The purpose of this experiment was to determine which factors affect the viability of wheat as measured by the ability of the wheat to sprout in 48 hours. We selected various samples of wheat from our personal storage that had been stored in #10 cans and plastic buckets. We included two samples of wheat that had been stored in a #10 can with an oxygen absorber to see if the absence of oxygen would prevent the wheat from sprouting.
This experiment was conducted in April 2019. Sample descriptions and photographs are documented as follows. The method is detailed below.
- One-half cup of wheat berries was placed inside of a 1-quart canning jar that was covered with a mesh fabric and rinsed.
- Each jar was initially filled with water and allowed to soak overnight.
- The next morning, each of the jars of wheat was rinsed with non-clorinated water and placed on an angle to ensure adequate drainage and airflow.
- The jars were rinsed 3 times each day for two days.
- Results were observed at 48 hours. Note: wheat berries that failed to germinate were allowed an additional day of sprouting time without success.
1967 Metal Karo Can Homegrown Wheat – 52-Year-Old Wheat Berries
This precious grain was grown and harvested by hand by Jonathan when he a young boy. It was stored in a repurposed metal Karo Syrup can for over 50 years. No method of preservation was used at the time of storage. It has been opened a few times over the years and may have been exposed to short periods of less than ideal storage conditions.
The grain showed no evidence of sprouting after 48 hours. We continued to rinse and support the sprouting process for 2 additional days with no success. We believe age and storage conditions played into this wheat being non-viable. It is still good for grinding into flour but sprouting is not an option.
1989 #10 Can Walton Wheat – 30-Year-Old Wheat Berries
There was not an oxygen absorber in this can when it was opened. It was probably treated with carbon dioxide before storage. The can was stored in a cool basement except for 1 year where it was stored in a garage. As you can see, at 48 hours the wheat sprouted nicely.
1993 #10 Can Wheat – 26-Year-Old Wheat Berries
There was not an oxygen absorber in this can when it was opened. We assume that carbon dioxide was used to prevent insect infestation during the initial packaging. The can of wheat was stored inside of an airconditioned home for 3 years, 1 year in a garage, and 22 years in a cool crawlspace or basement storage. After 48 hours, there was no evidence of sprouting. We gave the wheat berries an additional 24 to sprout without success.
1999 Plastic Bucket White Wheat – 20-Year-Old Wheat Berries
These wheat berries had been commercially packaged and stored in a white plastic bucket in relatively favorable conditions. Most of the time in a cool, basement storeroom with 1 year in a garage. We noticed a small crack in the lid of the bucket when we opened it. There was no evidence of sprouting at 48 hours. An additional 24 hours did not produce any sprouts.
2007 Plastic Bucket White Wheat – 12-Year-Old Wheat Berries
This bucket of white wheat was packaged and treated at home using the dry ice method. See our post, Long Term Food Storage: Best Treatment Methods and Containers to learn how to package your dry goods correctly at home. It had always been stored in a cool basement. These 12-year-old wheat berries successfully sprouted.
2008 #10 Can Hard White Wheat (Oxygen Absorber) – 11-Year-Old Wheat Berries
This hard white wheat was canned in a #10 can at home with a sealer that was borrowed from an LDS Home Storage Center. It was stored in a cool basement or crawlspace for 11 years. It is interesting to note that these wheat berries stored with an oxygen absorber produced the best sprouts of all of our trial batches. These results debunk the myth that wheat stored without oxygen does not remain viable. These sprouts look and taste amazing!
2014 #10 Can Hard White Wheat (Oxygen Absorber) – 5-Year-Old Wheat Berries
This #10 can of white wheat was purchased from one of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint Home Storage Centers. It was also packaged with an oxygen absorber. The can has been stored for 5 years in a cool, dry basement. At 48 hours this wheat had produced nice sprouts which confirms that an oxygen absorber does not inhibit wheat from sprouting.
Conclusions – Wheat Sprout Experiment
Unfortunately, this experiment was limited to the varieties of wheat, containers, and storage conditions that we had available. We draw these conclusions from our experiment as well as our extensive knowledge of years of using stored wheat.
- The presence of an oxygen absorber in stored wheat does not inhibit sprouting. Both of the #10 cans that were packaged with an oxygen absorber produced good quality sprouts. A reduced oxygen environment preserves the wheat longer extending the viable life of the grain.
- Wheat stored in a #10 can was better preserved than the wheat in the plastic buckets. We attribute this to the better protection from light, oxygen, and moisture that the metal can provides.
- Age plays a part in the ability of the wheat to sprout. Out of the 7 wheat berries sampled, it was the older grain that did not sprout with the exception of 1989 wheat that had been stored in a #10 can.
- Storage conditions play a role in the viability of the wheat. The samples that may have been exposed to heat during storage had a lower rate of sprouting.
- The role that the variety of wheat plays in sprouting ability could not be assessed in this experiment because some of the varieties were unknown. Hard wheat is best for storage and is also the best candidate for sprouting. Note that 3 out of 4 of the varieties positively identified as “hard” varieties sprouted.
How to Sprout Wheat?
Wheat requires just the right amount of moisture to sprout. Water is critical to activate the process. Providing too much moisture will drown the seed and it will split open and not allow the seedling to emerge or it may begin to ferment and rot. Sunlight is not required for sprouting.
Ideally, you will want to use a bottle or tray designed for sprouting. Amazon sells a great stainless steel sprouting stand for the sprouting in a mason jar here. However, you can use a quart-size canning jar and cover the top with a piece of mesh or screen that will allow for plenty of airflow and easy draining.
- Sort and rinse 1/2 to 1 cup of wheat berries
- Place wheat in a quart jar and cover with water
- Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight
- Drain water off of wheat berries and rinse again
- Place sprouter in a low light location
- If using a jar, keep it at an angle to ensure that water drains but that there is plenty of air flow.
- Rinse and drain 2 or 3 times daily
- Sprouts will form in 2-3 days and are ready to harvest.
An alternative method for sprouting larger amounts of wheat is to soak the wheat berries overnight and then drain them. Wrap the soaked berries inside of a damp towel for 24 hours and they should be ready for use.
Sprouted wheat berries will store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 days. Wheat sprouts can also be dried and ground into flour.
How to Use Sprouted Wheat
Now that you have power packed sprouts, just what do you do with them? There are a couple of options to incorporate them into your diet. You can use the sprouts fresh or dry them before use.
Using Fresh Wheat Sprouts
Fresh wheat sprouts can be added directly to soups, salads and baked goods. They can be the base of a tasty breakfast cereal or porridge or tossed into a smoothie.
Wheat sprouts can also be pureed and made into a thick mash which is used in bread and other baked goods. Adding a little bit of liquid when blending will result in a smoother texture. The resulting baked product is dense and moist as seen in the chocolate chip muffins below. Kids will try anything when I add chocolate chips.
Fresh sprouts can also be transferred into soil to grow wheat grass. Wheat grass can also be grown without soil hydroponic sprouting trays. Wheat grass should be juiced in 10-14 days.
Drying Wheat Sprouts
Wheat sprouts can be dried and ground into flour. Make sure that they are completely dry before milling the sprouts or they will gum up the grain mill. You may also have issues with mold. Small batches can be easily ground in a coffee grinder. A grain mill for will work better to grind larger amounts of sprout flour.
Ideally, wheat sprouts should be dried at less than 113 degrees F to ensure that enzymes remain intact. However, sprouts dried at higher temperatures are still highly nutritious.
Spread wheat sprouts in a thin layer on a baking sheet. I like to use the plastic cover of my baking sheet for air drying. Cover with a breathable cheesecloth or mesh fabric to protect from flies. Place in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area for 18-24 hours to dry.
Set the oven on the lowest temperature and place the sprouted wheat berries in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. The sprouts should be dry in 8-10 hours.
Spread wheat sprouts in a thin even layer on an electric dehydrator tray. You will need to use a dehydrator sheet to prevent the small seeds from falling through the tray. Dehydrate for 12-24 hours until completely dry.
A parked vehicle can be a great place to dehydrate sprouts during the warmer seasons. I usually crack a window slightly to control moisture buildup. Place the wheat berry sprouts on a baking sheet and let the sun do all of the work. Sprouts will be completely dry in a day or two. Alternatively, you can use a solar dehydrator and hang it outside. Be sure to protect the solar dryer from breezes.
What Are the Best Varieties of Wheat to Store for Sprouting?
Hard wheat is your best option for long term food storage. It is low in moisture and will store for 25 to 30 years in a cool, dry location in appropriate containers. Hard wheat is also ideal for sprouting. Soft spring wheat sprouts poorly but as you can see by our experiment, almost any wheat that you have stored correctly can be sprouted.
Bringing It Home
A survival food supply is a great investment to protect against hunger when disaster strikes. Those basic grains that you have stored may have more nutrition and versatility than you may think. Sprouting wheat can add nutrition to your diet that is not available if you just grind that wheat into flour.
Remember that even if the wheat will no longer sprout, it is a highly nutritious grain that can be ground into flour and create a variety of delicious meals. Wheat is a fantastic addition to your long term food supply. Learn more about building your long term food storage by visiting these posts.
- Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset
- Food Storage: How Old is Too Old?
- 8 Food Storage Enemies and How to Slay Them
- Shelf-Life of Vitamin Supplements in a Survival Food Supply
- Potato Flakes: Delicious and Versatile Long Term Food Storage Staple
- Salt: Why It Is Essential and How to Store It Right
- Oats – A Must-Have Pantry Staple
- 3 Months Supply of Food: Amazing Peace of Mind
- Ingenious Places to Store Your Emergency Food Supply
- Honey: Nature’s Perfect Longer-Term Storage Food
- Long Term Food Storage: Best Containers and Treatment Methods