There is a plethora of grains from which to choose: wheat and rye, ancient grains such as Kamute and emmer, gluten-free, rice, some grains that are really not grains at all like buckwheat; just to name a few and of course corn and beans (not that beans are a grain, but can be ground in to flour in your mill). Whole grains are sometimes referred to, as with wheat: wheat berries, wheat kernels or wheat seeds. When purchasing try to opt for organic when possible; most corn, in the US for instance, is now mostly GMO (genetically modified organism). That's scary if you ask me. Dried whole grains, corn and beans will last for quite sometime, even years, if properly prepared and stored. This page will give you the info you need for buying-storing grains, corn and beans correctly.
Buying Grains & Beans
There are several options available depending on your location:
- Food Co-ops - The most cost-effective place to buy grains & beans is in bulk and usually through a food co-op. By buying in bulk prices are discounted and shipping/freight is much more affordable. So, look for a co-op in your area. A great example is Azure Standard; they deliver to much of the country, have many drop locations available, have a huge catalog of goods and deliver monthly. Note: Not all co-ops order/deliver monthly.
- Local Health Food or Whole Food Stores - Many local health food stores will carry some whole grains/beans and other baking supplies. If yours does not then ask if they can order some for you. (For Mississippi Gulf Coast: Coast Health & Nutrition)
- Online/Mail Order - There is a fair number of sites/stores which offer whole grains & beans such as Amazon. Depending on the site/store the shipping cost can be as much as the bag of grain itself. So, do some price comparing.
Grain & Bean Storage
- How Long - As I mentioned, grains, corn and beans may be stored for long periods of time if they are kept sealed, cool and dry: grains and corn for 10-30+ years and beans 2+ years. Yes, I said years. Grains were found in the ancient tombs in Egypt; they planted them and they sprouted. How cool is that?!
- Bucket Size - Most bulk grains/beans come in food-grade buckets/pails, heavy plastic or paper bags. If they come in a bag they cannot stay that way because bugs/critters and moisture can get to them. Store your bulk grains/beans in food grade plastic buckets with a lid that has a rubber gasket to seal out critters and moisture. A 5 gallon bucket will easily hold 25 lbs where as a 6 gallon will almost hold 50 lbs.
- Location - The best storage location is a pantry or an interior closet; you are looking for cool and dry. Buckets may be stored in the garage, however, be sure to set them on 2x4 boards to keep air circulating and prevent moisture from collecting on the buckets in humid environments/seasons. Do not store buckets in the laundry room; too warm and humid. Bugs love that!
- Bug & Moisture Control - For long-term storage it is recommended to use oxygen absorbers and even Mylar bags. Oxygen absorbers do just that, removes the oxygen. Unfortunately, weevil eggs are usually already in grains from the fields; they hatch when the conditions are right: oxygen, warm & humid. By using the oxygen packs before sealing your buckets can help deter them from hatching. Shake down your grain in the bucket then place a few (depending on their strength) oxygen packs on top of the grain; seal with lid having a rubber gasket. Mylar bags used inside your food grade bucket helps add an extra layer of protection. Another option is to place your new grains in the freezer for a couple of days or more. This method will kill any bugs/eggs in the grain/beans. Remove, thaw completely, then store in food grade bucket with rubber gasket lid. For everyday grain usage, again use a food grade bucket and a Gamma lid. (see below) Note about my picture with the absorbers: My picture below shows oxygen absorbers in my half-empty wheat bucket using a Gamma lid. I only use the absorbers when I'm storing grain for a long time using a regular lid with a rubber gasket (see section on lids). Because once a bucket with oxygen absorbers has been opened the absorbers will no longer be effective. I just wanted you to see what they looked like.
All stored grains & beans require a cool moisture-free environment to avoid bugs and spoilage.
- Short Term Lids - Use a Gamma Lid for easy daily access of your bucketed grains & beans. Gamma Lids consist of a ring and screw-type lid each with a rubber gasket. Simply snap the ring onto your bucket (you may need to use a rubber mallet to seat the ring all the way) and screw on the lid to seal. When you've emptied your bucket, open the next sealed bucket and pour it into the Gamma lidded bucket. Gamma Lids are available in many colors. My Hard White wheat has a white lid and my Hard Red wheat has a red lid. I' m O.C.D. like that.
- Long Term Lids - These lids are the typical 5-6 gallon bucket lids; like on a big bucket of paint. It has a deep seating groove and a rubber gasket. You may need a rubber mallet to seal the lid on properly. A lid-lifter is helpful to remove these sealed lids. When using the oxygen absorbers often the lid will sink inward or dip down. That is normal and good; it simply means the absorbers are doing their job.
- Be sure to label your bucket with grain/bean type, date, purchased from info so you can rotate your stock. I use masking tape and a sharpie.
Where to Buy Buckets & Lids
Buckets/pails and lids are available in different sizes like 2-gallon up to 7-gallon. Buckets/pails, regular lids and Gamma lids can definitely be found on-line, however some health food and hardware stores carry them in-stock. Call the store first and be sure to price compare.
- 5-Gallon are the easiest to find. Often they are carried by food co-ops such as Azure Standard. Lowe's and Home Depot usually carry them in the paint section. Make sure you get FOOD-Grade; so, check it's label. Both stores carry the regular lid and the Gamma-type lid; so, check with your particular store.
- 6-Gallon are a little trickier to find. Our local health food store carries them, but typically they will need to be ordered on-line. Simply Google "6 gallon food grade bucket or pail" and price compare. Because buckets are bulky, shipping cost can be a factor.
- Other sizes - Azure Standard carries 2-gallon & 5-gallon or may be found on-line.
- Regular lids are fairly easy to find. Make sure it has a rubber gasket for an air/moisture tight seal. Again, check with your Lowe's or Home Depot store. These lids typically come in white.
- Gamma lids may also be found at Lowe's or Home Depot. You will need to check with them as far as color goes; if you care about that sort of thing.
Note about colors - Gamma lids come in many colors: white, red, green, yellow, black and several others. Because I'm a little O.C.D. I have a white lid for my hard white wheat, a red lid for my hard red lid and yellow for my soft wheat; labeled white lids for all my other grains, corn and beans. You will have to do the Google search if color preference is your preference.
I hope this info helps. Of course there is always more to say, but this will get you going in the right direction. Do read the following post/pages for even more information. 🙂
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