Wheat Storage: How Much and for How Long
Wheat needs to be stored in cool and dry conditions, and the moisture content of the product should be around 10% beforehand. Storing wheat at higher temperatures will not diminish the food quality, but it may inhibit the ability for seeds to germinate. Storing wheat at higher moisture levels will open the door to mold, fungal growth and insect infestation. Make sure that the wheat you are storing has been tested for moisture, otherwise you will need to dry it at a low temperature setting prior to packaging.
It is important to make sure that the wheat has been separated from the chaff prior to storage. This will ensure that you have a better supply while minimizing chances of contamination. The easiest method is to drop wheat through a gentle breeze, such as from a fan, and allowing the grain to fall into a large container. The wind will carry off the lighter material while the heavier grain will fall straight down. This will take a little bit of practice and experimentation as you try out different wind speeds to blow the chaff but not the wheat.
Wheat can be stored in almost any type of container as long as it is sealed and made from material that will not degrade and impact the taste and quality of the grains. However, you may want to consider placing wheat into clear plastic bags prior to inserting them into containers. Rodent and pest control are also considerations that need to be addressed prior and during storage. Rodents are arguably easier to control than pests, and all you generally need to do is make sure that the wheat is encased in a container that can not be chewed through.
Controlling pests involves the use of pesticides or heat. Don’t fall for a lot of home-remedies and wives tales that suggest otherwise. The good news is that if you buy wheat that has been washed and prepared prior to storage, most pest problems will not be an issue. However, they can come up over time. The easiest way to deal with an infestation is to heat wheat to temperatures around 140 degrees for an hour. This will kill off most insects, their eggs as well as larvae. Pesticides are another option, but they are highly regulated and pose a number of health risks that can be avoided by using heat instead.
The most important factor to consider when storing wheat is to determine how much you will need. Common estimates indicate that you should have around 400lbs of wheat per person, per year. You can adjust according to your experiences as well as the appetite of you and your family. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution and store more than you need as opposed to coming up short as supplies diminish.
Finally, don’t store flour for the long-term as it will deteriorate and spoil a lot faster than whole grains. It is better to store grains and then mill them as needed when considering a long-term food storage option. Remember that wheat is a staple food that provides sustenance for people around the world, and it is essential that you have some on hand if you are ever faced with a SHTF or disaster that can jeopardize the food supply. Start preparing now so that you have what you need on hand at all times.