I recently purchased a country living hand grain mill for grinding dry staples like wheat and dried beans from my emergency pantry. The combination of grain and a mill to make flour is one of the best things you can do for your long-term storage of food. Grain is a famine food and it is simple, notice I didn’t say easy, to mill flour for everyday foods like leavened and unleavened bread. First let’s take a reality check, on how long it takes to mill wheat in this baby.
First Time Milling Wheat (Country Living Grain Mill)
My first time milling with the Country Living Grain Mill I ground 5.5 pounds of wheat by hand, in one day. I had to mill it twice, first into larger pieces similar to cornmeal and then into fine baking flour.
I milled it twice because you have to tighten the grinding plates down so much with whole wheat berries it’s tough to turn the handle.
It took me 9 minutes and 47 seconds to mill one cup of fine flour from hard white wheat berries. The grain was twice ground, first to a coarse grind, which took 1 minute and 51 seconds per cup, and a second time to a fine flour, which took 7 minutes and 56 seconds per cup.
What I learned, if you plan on grinding or milling a lot of flour, I suggest breaking it up over a couple of days, unless you are a glutton for punishment.
Chart #1 Time to mill wheat by hand (Country Living Grain Mill)
My first time milling by hand was an eye-opener. To get 19 cups of fine flour from a 5.5 lb #10 can took 3 hours of non-stop grinding. Let’s take a look at the chart.
|Cup(s) Of Flour|
No Electricity Required
My goal in milling all of this wheat with the Country Living Hand Grain Mill was to see how long it would take me to get the job done in a situation where no electric power is available. You could grind this much wheat in an electric food processor or an electric mill in a fraction of the time it took to hand grind by hand. If you plan on getting a hand crank mill I suggest you have an electric mill for when there is electric power.
How Store Wheat For Milling At Home
If you are interested in the country living hand grain mill then you are probably a prepper, so you know that the storage life of emergency food is a big deal.
Having a grain mill is outstanding for long-term emergencies but you also need to store your wheat for the long haul. The best “Do it yourself method” for storing wheat is food-grade buckets, combined with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for a maximum shelf life of 30 years. Lets’s take a look at the equipment you will need for oxygen-free storage.
Equipment Needed For Oxygen-free Wheat Storage
#1 Oxygen Absorbers
O2 absorbers remove oxygen to stop wheat spoilage from oxidation and kill bugs, eggs, and pupae within two weeks.
#2 Mylar Bags
Mylar bags protect wheat and other dry staples from oxygen and moisture because Mylar is an excellent barrier to both. Choose Mylar bags that are 5 mils in thickness or more to block light from reaching the wheat. (light also oxidizes food) Using Mylar bags with enough oxygen treatment will give you a 30-year shelf life on wheat berries. (wheat with the husk removed.)
#3 Food-grade buckets
Plastic buckets protect the Mylar bags from rodents and physical damage. Buckets are not an oxygen barrier so I would use them without Mylar bags unless you are storing salt or sugar, two foods that aren’t affected by oxidation.
Tip: Freshly milled flour should be refrigerated or stored in the freezer.
Up next, is how to store your wheat.
How to Store Wheat Berries In Buckets with Mylar: 9 Easy Steps
Step # 1
Use a 5-gallon food-grade bucket with a cheap snap-on lid. (If you use Mylar you don’t need an expensive lid with a seal.)
If you use a sealed Mylar bag, your bucket doesn’t need to be food-grade, but you may want to use the buckets for something food-related down the road. I prefer just using food-grade plastic.
Line the bucket with a Mylar bag. Search on Google to find Mylar bags specifically designed to fit in 5 or 6-gallon buckets. My bags are 18″x24″.
Try to get bags that are at least 5 mils. The cheaper, thinner bags allow light to touch the grain which leads to light oxidation. The heavier bags are also tougher.
Fill the bag approximately one inch from the top of the bucket. If you mound the Mylar with wheat, you’ll have a hard time getting the lid on.
Place 2000 cc of Oxygen Absorbers in the top of the bag before you seal it.
You can use any sized Oxygen absorber as long as you use 2000cc. For instance, you could use 4 500 cc absorbers or 20 100cc absorbers. I prefer the 2000 cc absorbers; they are a lot quicker. Just grab one and throw it in the bag.
Place a 2×4 or another dimension piece of wood across the top of the bucket and fold the bag over it.
Seal the Mylar bag. Use a household iron on the hottest setting. (on my iron, setting 7, also called the linen setting.)
Write the type of wheat and the date packaged on the outside of the bag, using a permanent marker. I also like to write the date on the lid of the bucket.
Gently fold the bag over and snap the lid on the bucket with the heel of your hand or a rubber mallet.
The Mylar is excellent oxygen and moisture barrier. A lidded bucket is excellent for stacking and storage and acts as a protective armor against rodents.
Store the food buckets in a cool, dry location. You can stack buckets 3 high for storage. You can go higher but this may crack your buckets.
Tip: Do not wash or freeze wheat before storage. Both processes increase the moisture level of wheat.
Warning: Wheat higher than 10% moisture should not be stored in Oxygen-free containers because there is a higher potential for food poisoning from botulism.
Buy Flour Or Grind Your Own: Pros and Cons
There are many reasons to mill flour at home. The primary reason is that wheat berries are one of the best survival foods you can store; an awesome shelf-life and are super flexible. Following are 4 reasons for “do it yourself” flour milling.
- Higher Nutritional Value
- Decades of Storage Life
- Flexibility: Mill wheat berries that fit the food you are making instead of a one size fits all.
1. Grain VS Flour: Which Is Cheaper
Is it cheaper to mill your own flour?
The cost of grinding your own wheat berries is more expensive if the cost of a grinder or mill is included, and if you don’t have a location close by selling bulk wheat, you will be paying for the shipping cost.
That said, the flour from wheat berries and store-bought flour are not the same. When looking at cost you’re not comparing apples to apples.
The flour you mill yourself is more flexible, more nutritious, and better tasting, and it’s not bleached or bromated.
What Is Bromated flour?
Potassium bromate is added to some flours to improve the rise of dough when a leavening agent like yeast is added.
Why Is Flour Bleached?
Peroxide or chlorine gas is used to bleach flour creating a softer dough or crust. The bleaching process also speeds up the aging process, something you want to avoid in long-term storage.
Chart #1: Cost, 50lbs of Wheat Berries vs. 50lbs of Flour
|Wheat/Flour Type||Pounds||Cups Flour||Cost Grain||Cost Flour|
|Hard White |
|Hard White (Organic)||50||150||$45.21||$52.49|
|Soft White (Organic)||50||150||$26.95||$17.99|
(mix of soft and hard wheat)
Mills, grinders, and food processors used to grind wheat berries into flour are expensive. When choosing a grain mill, you have electric and hand crank options. Following is a general overview of mill and mixer costs.
Chart #2: Cost of Hand Grain Mills
|Hand Crank Mills and Food Processors For Milling Wheat||Cost|
|Country Living Mill||$489|
Chart #3: Cost of Electric Grain Mills
|Electric Mills and Food Processors For Grinding Wheat||Cost|
|Kitchen Aid (Added to Kitchen Aid Mixer)||$119.99|
|Waring Commercial Blender||$365.00|
Electric Or Hand-Cranked Mill?
If you are a bread maker and have no interest in grinding wheat in an emergency scenario like power outages or long-term catastrophes, you will probably want an electric mill or food processor. Electricity will save hours of labor.
Reasons to store Wheat Berries Instead of Flour
Wheat berries can be sprouted. So if you mill your own flour you’ll have a ready supply of vitamins A and C in a survival scenario. Sprouted wheat berries provide higher nutrition and digestibility than flour.
Wheat berries can also be planted in your garden if they are still viable.
#2 Grinding Your Own Wheat Is Healthier
Home-milled flour is healthier because it contains more nutrients. The wheat kernel still has the endosperm, bran, and germ, which are nutritious.
Processed flour may have nutrients added, but it’s also bleached and bromated and generally less wholesome.
Wheat Berries have a shelf-life of 30+ years, pre-packaged flour will last 5 to 10 years when stored in a hermetically sealed Oxygen-free container.
The natural oils in freshly milled flour will go rancid whether they are stored in an Oxygen-free container or not. For this reason, wheat berries should be ground on an as-needed basis.
Where Can I Get Wheat Berries To Mill At Home?
Anyone can purchase bulk wheat berries online. Many companies specialize in selling bulk wheat. You can also look for wheat locally in big box stores, local bakeries, and granaries.
My area doesn’t have a granary, so my wheat purchases are online. The problem with ordering this way is the cost of shipping.
Here is a list of places you can purchase bulk wheat online. I’m not affiliated with any of them but the list will give you a place to start hunting for berries.
When milling wheat at home the best option is to mill on demand. Store your wheat in the berry form and only grind what you will use within a couple of days.
Chart #3: Places you can get wheat berries
|Bulk Wheat Stores On-line|
|Country Life Natural Foods|
|Pleasant Hill Grain|
|Montana Flour and Grains|
|Wheat Montana: I ordered Prairie Gold through my Amazon Account for Free shipping|
Can I Mill My Own Flour?
All you need to mill your own flour is a hand or electric-powered grain mill or a food processor with a motor big enough to pulverize the wheat. You also need wheat berries (wheat with the husk removed) which you can purchase in bulk, online, or at a local granary.
Best Wheat For Home Milling
Start with hard white wheat and build from there. Once you get into milling you’ll probably want to experiment with mixing different types of hard and soft wheat, including ancient wheat like spelt and emmer.
The best wheat for home milling is hard white wheat. It is the best all-purpose wheat berry with the mildest flavor and is the easiest transition from the taste of store-bought bread to homemade bread. It works well in yeast bread and baked goods like cookies.
Hard Red Wheat is the highest in gluten/protein, so you get an outstanding rise in your dough, but some bakers don’t like the flavor. Experiment with red wheat before purchasing it in bulk.
Soft White Wheat: The Perfect Choice For Pastries
If you plan on milling wheat berries to make pastries, cookies, or cakes, soft white wheat is the best choice. Soft Wheatberries don’t have enough gluten to make quality leavened bread, but they make pastries light as air.
Mixing Soft and Hard Wheat:
Once you get deeper into grinding your own grain, the Holy grail of your grinding is to develop the perfect mixture of various wheat types to create the perfect loaf of bread or pastry crust.
How Long Will Home Milled Flour Last?
Oh, this was a hard-learned lesson. 3 hours to mill 19 cups of flour by hand, and four days later, I’m dumping it into the bin. I stored it in the cupboard, and it should have been put in the freezer.
Stored at room temperature, freshly ground wheat will last three days, refrigerated for seven days, and frozen for up to 6 months. Once milled, the bran layer of the wheat berry breaks, and oxygen begins the rancidity process much faster than refined flour, which will last 6+ months at room temperature.
Storage Note: Mill wheat berries as you use them because nutritional value begins to decline not long after it’s milled.
Should Home Milled Flour Be Sifted?
If you are used to eating store-bought bread made from refined all-purpose flour, whole wheat freshly baked bread may be too strong in flavor and texture. Consider working up to unsifted flour unless you are going for maximum nutrition.
Sift home-milled flour to remove the bran if you want a softer, less grainy consistency and a flavor closer to store-bought bread. Un-sifted whole wheat flour has a stronger flavor and texture and may inhibit leavening but has more nutrition.
Sifting Flour With A Tamis
A Tamis is a screened frame used to sift wheat. The small particles of flour go through the screen leaving the husk behind.
If you don’t want to waste the bran use it to make a homemade leavening agent levain (yeast starter), add it to other ingredients, or throw it in the compost pile.
Thanks for stopping by Ready Squirrel! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments.
Keep on prepping!
Best Regards, Scott