To freeze wheat or not to freeze wheat, that is the question. This month I am repackaging 50 lbs of wheat berries into Oxygen-free food-grade buckets. Should I freeze the wheat to kill weevil eggs, or is there a better way? There is definitely a better method of controlling bugs than freezing.
Preppers should not freeze wheat before long term storage. Freezing to kill bugs, eggs, and pupae is not reliable and takes much longer than storage in an oxygen-free container. Also, freezing wheat before storage increases moisture content, the leading cause of spoilage in grains.
Using Mylar bags and/or food-grade pales with Oxygen absorbers is a quicker, more effective method of processing wheat for long-term storage than freezing.
Freezing Wheat Is Not An Effective Way to Kill Bug Eggs
Weevils are the most common bug that invades whole grains, and worse, most grains have bug eggs when you get them. Before long-term storage, you have to process wheat to kill all stages, from egg to mature insect. The last thing you want is to open a 10-year-old bucket of wheat and find that it’s been decimated by weevils.
One issue with freezing, it’s not always effective in killing all stages of bug life. Some types of weevil eggs can survive freezing winters, so they may not be killed even if frozen. You won’t necessarily know what kind of weevil you have, so don’t waste a lot of time and freezer space to “maybe” kill bug eggs.
Weevils eat just about any dry whole food in your pantry including, dry beans, whole grain, nuts, corn, and cereal, and they will travel from other foods to wheat berries.
Freezing Wheat Increases Moisture Content
When you store wheat berries in your freezer, you combine your freezer’s cold temperatures with air, which creates moisture or condensation when the wheat is removed from the freezer.
Nothing will spoil wheat faster than moisture. It is hands down the #1 killer of stored grains.
In a real pinch, you could actually eat grain with weevils present, but you can’t eat it if it’s spoiled with mildew and bacteria.
Warning: Dried foods like wheat, rice, beans, and other whole grains must be stored with 10% or less moisture content in an oxygen-free container to avoid botulism and other foodborne bacteria.
Freezing Wheat Takes Time and Freezer Space
How many pounds of wheat can you fit in your freezer?
Let’s say you bought a 50 lb bag of hard winter wheat at a big box store.
You can fit 10 lbs of wheat in your freezer at a time. The first 10 lbs need to be in the freezer for 5 days if you follow the suggested guidelines for killing bugs. That means it will take you 5 weeks of freezer time to process a 50 lb bag. Uh, no thanks.
If you’re doing long-term storage, you are probably processing large quantities of dry goods. Freezing to kill bugs instead of using oxygen-free containers like Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and Oxygen absorbers is not the best use of your time and resources. Work smart not hard.
Oxygen-Free Containers Are The Best Way To Kill Bugs In Wheat
Better than freezing, use two 18″ x 24″ Food-grade Mylar bags, pour the wheat berries into the bags, drop a 2000 CC Oxygen Absorber in each bag, seal the bags with a household iron, mark the package date and food type on the bag, and you are done. Let’s say it took you 20 minutes.
Storing wheat berries in Oxygen-free containers kills bugs, bug eggs, and pupae within 2 weeks, and it’s quicker than freezing. This storage method also gives wheat a 30 plus year shelf-life. What prepper wouldn’t love that?
Why freeze your wheat when you can drop a 2000 CC Oxygen absorber in an 18″x24″ Mylar bag, seal it and forget about it?
Watch the Ready Squirrel video below to learn how to store dry goods in buckets with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, including the tools you need and step-by-step instructions.
Freezing Doesn’t Eliminate Bacteria on Wheat: Oxygen-Free Storage Does
An oxygen-free storage container eliminates aerobic bacteria. Freezing wheat before storage may actually create a healthier environment for anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to multiply. Bacteria like botulism thrive in a high moisture, low oxygen environment, and vice versa for the aerobic bacteria.
You Want To Repackage Wheat So Don’t Freeze It
Leave wheat in-store packaging, and you will get a maximum shelf-life of 1 to 5 years. Maybe this is good enough for you, but it won’t keep bug eggs from hatching, moths, or weevils from moving in.
If you are prepping or interested in a survival pantry you have to repackage your dry goods why not kill two birds with one stone by using an oxygen free-container to kill bugs and obtain a 30-year shelf-life.
In walks the superstars of long-term DIY food storage. The best method to get the maximum 30-year shelf-life from wheat is, without a doubt, Mylar bags in combination with food-grade buckets and Oxygen absorbers.
Don’t Freeze Your Wheat Berries: Store Them In Food Bags and Buckets
Mylar bags provide a superior oxygen barrier, and they are not permeable to air or moisture, better than any other DIY container other than #10 cans.
The Downside, Mylar bags are delicate and easily damaged. Rodents can chew through them, and if you move them around, they rip and get pinholes quite easily.
Use Mylar bags inside Food-grade Buckets because food-grade pales are a tough outer shell. Buckets act as armor for your Mylar bags. Rodents don’t usually chew through buckets. They are stackable, easy to organize, and tough.
The downside of buckets for long-term storage, they don’t provide a great seal, plastic is permeable to air, and lid seals can be spotty. If you have weevil eggs in your wheat and you just put it in a bucket there may be oxygen transfer so there is a possibility you will come back a couple of years later to find a squirming mess of crawlies.
Mylar bags take care of these issues.
Oxygen absorbers and an airtight container are a must for long-term dry wheat storage.
Ok, people have been freezing wheat for years before they store it for long-term storage, but it’s not the best method, not even close.
At one point in history, freezing was pretty much the only DIY option you had, but Oxygen Absorbers and Mylar bags changed the food storage game. If you plan on storing with Oxygen absorbers and Mylar anyway, freezing is just a hassle and an unnecessary step.
Imagine freezing 250 lbs of dry wheat before storing it in 5-gallon buckets. Why? Freezer space is limited, and it takes a ridiculous amount of time to get done what you could do in minutes.
If you are storing minimal amounts of wheat, it might be worth it if you want to save some money, but for long-term bulk storage of dry foods, it’s not practical, and it poses possible challenges by creating higher moisture content.
Food Packaging, Edited by Takashi Kadoya, page 230, II B., Google Scholar