I have 300lbs of grain sitting on the floor of my kitchen, and I think, “how am I going to freeze this for storage?”
I know that most grains come with bug eggs, so I have to kill them somehow. Most of the information on the internet touts freezing as the premium method of prepping dry goods for storage.
As I stand there looking at my tiny freezer, I realize there is no way to practically prep grain by freezing it. Unless I want to spend six months to do it. There is a better method.
Don’t freeze grain for long-term storage. Freezing is an outdated method of exterminating bugs before long-term storage. It adds moisture to dry grains, requires excessive freezer space, and takes exponentially more time to accomplish than preferred methods such as repackaging to Oxygen-free containers.
Freezing Grain Increases Moisture: Don’t Do It.
When you start prepping for long-term storage, you learn about seven things that affect the shelf life of food: Moisture, Temperature, Oxygen, Light, and the type of Food-grade containers you use.
Freezing grain causes condensation and increases moisture content during the thawing process. Moisture is the leading cause of grain spoilage after bug damage.
Why would anyone use a method like freezing that could decrease grain’s shelf-life?
The main reason is that freezing used to be the best DIY method available to the average prepper. This is no longer the case.
Food-grade containers like Mylar bags that provide an excellent oxygen barrier and the correct # of Oxygen Absorbers are far superior to freezing dry goods for killing bugs.
Grains like wheat are especially susceptible to high moisture levels when stored, but white rice, dried beans, and other grains are also affected.
Wet wheat berries will deteriorate and spoil quickly. It doesn’t take long for mold and bacteria to set in but kept dry, and bug-free wheat can last indefinitely.
1000-year-old wheat has been found in Egyptian tombs that are still edible. Why? It’s been stored in a hermetically sealed tomb in an arid climate.
Safety Tip: When dry goods are stored in an Oxygen-free environment, moisture content should be less than 10%. Higher moisture levels are the perfect environment for anaerobic bacteria to form.
Freezing Grain Increases the Chance of Botulism
If you read this article, you probably intended to freeze your dry goods and store them in something like Mylar bags, food-grade pales, or glass ball jars.
Grains and other dried foods stored in Oxygen-free containers with more than 10% moisture content create the perfect environment for anaerobic bacteria like botulism to form. This is another reason to avoid freezing grains.
Don’t use a method to kill bugs that adds moisture and isn’t 100% effective for the purpose.
Freezing to Kill Bugs: Is it Effective
The freezing method to kill bug eggs is controversial and is a colossal waste of time. If you want the maximum shelf-life of wheat, white rice, and dried beans, you have to repackage them anyway. Freezing is a wasted step, and it’s not great at killing bugs.
Freezing grain to kill bugs, eggs, and pupae is ineffective because there are too many unknown variables. Proper freeze times vary depending on the variety of bugs and the stage of life. Even more confusing, agricultural extensions across the United States disagree on how long to freeze grain.
The most common bug found in wheat is weevils. Different types have more or less resistance to freezing. Imagine a weevil egg on a stock of grain in the frozen winters of North Dakota. The egg goes through winter and hatches in the spring.
When you purchase wheat, it will probably have bug eggs, but you won’t know what variety because weevils travel from one dried food to another, you won’t know if you have a cold-hardy weevil.
For instance, a weevil may be the warm weather variety, easily killed by freezing, or it could be the cold weather type, resistant to freezing temperatures. The stage in a bug’s life-cycle: egg, pupae, or mature adult also affects the effectiveness of freezing short-term, say four days.
Imagine freezing 300lb of wheat or white rice in a small refrigerator freezer.
Agricultural extensions from various university extension services suggest freezing times from 4 days to 2 weeks to kill bugs.
Oxygen-free containers kill two birds with one stone. You’ve repackaged into a vessel with a concrete oxygen barrier, and you are killing bugs.
Kill Bugs With An Oxygen-Free Environment: Two Birds With One Stone
If you want the 30+ year shelf life for grains and beans, you have to repackage them in oxygen-free containers. Otherwise, you might as well leave them in the store packaging. Freezing is just an extra step.
Store grains like wheat, white rice, and dried beans in a sealed Oxygen-free container like Mylar bags, food-grade pales and use an oxygen absorber to kill all bugs, eggs, and pupae within 2 weeks of packing.
Is Freezing Grain To Kill Bugs Practical?
For most preppers, freezing isn’t an option. I look at my freezer full of frozen pizzas, meat, and last year’s Thanksgiving leftovers, and it makes it obvious, no way am I freezing 100’s of pounds of dried goods.
Freezing grain to kill bugs isn’t practical. The average household does not have sufficient freezer space to freeze the suggested 300lb of wheat per person. A 50lb bag of grain measures 16″x6″x24. The average dimension of an over-under freezer on a regular refrigerator is 30″ x 35.”
If you are interested in storing wheat berries, but you don’t which kind to store, check out Best Wheat Berries For Long-Term Storage
How Long Does It Take To Freeze Grain For Long-term Storage?
As already mentioned, agricultural extensions suggest freezing rice from 4 days to 2 weeks. To keep this simple, let’s say you have to freeze your grain for four days.
How long would it take to freeze 300lb of dry goods if you have to leave them in the freezer for four days?
Let’s say you can fit 10lb of grain in your freezer. How long would it take to treat 300lb for bugs?
It would take you 120 days to process 300lb of grain in the freezer. That’s four months of freezer time.
O2 Absorbers or Dry Ice Instead of Freezing: Killing Bugs in Grain
Dry ice can be used to kill bugs in sealed containers, but it has drawbacks. Oxygen absorbers are a superior method and much quicker. Freezing is a wasted step and adds moisture to the dry good.
Oxygen Absorbers are the preferred method for storing dry goods like grains, beans, and white rice. Dry ice is sufficient, but there is a risk of adding moisture to stored food, and it takes longer. Freezing is just an extra step, it kills bugs, but the food needs repackaging for maximum shelf-life.
To treat grain with dry ice, place the dry ice at the bottom of the pale or Mylar bag and wait for 6 hours. If you seal the bag before this, the bag may rupture or explode.
To treat for bugs with an oxygen absorber, fill the food-grade container with low-fat grain with less than 10% moisture, throw in the proper CC Oxygen absorber and seal the bag. You’re done.