Wheat is outstanding survival food, but you may be wondering how to use wheat berries in food storage. The simple answer is wheat berries are unmilled flour, so you can do anything with wheat berries you can do with flour, and they can be milled into flour, sprouted, planted, and eaten whole. I’ve personally made homemade bread and pasta with my wheat berries, and I’ve also sprouted them.
Use wheat berries from food storage by cooking them whole and eating them like porridge or mill them into flour for baked goods. You can also plant wheat berries in the garden, sprout them for a nutritious shot of greens, brew beer, or use them as animal fodder for chickens.
You can make anything with milled wheat berries you can make with wheat flour, including leavened bread, pizza dough, noodles, hard rolls, flatbreads, and tortillas.
Wheat Berries Cooked Whole (porridge)
You don’t have to use wheat as milled flour. Cook it like porridge and eat it like oatmeal.
- Add other pantry foods like butter, nut butter, or preserves.
- Cook wheat like barley and add to soups, stews, or salads from your survival garden.
The reason preppers store wheat instead of flour is because of shelf-life. Flour lasts 5 years wheat lasts 30+ years.
Mill wheat berries for flour as you use them. Milling berries in bulk reduces shelf life. Flour doesn’t last as long as an intact wheat berry.
For this reason, preppers will use smaller Mylar bags with Oxygen absorbers and put them inside plastic bins for protection. #10 cans are also a good option.
Next, let’s talk a little about the kinds of wheat and their use.
Check out this excellent video of Scott milling 5.5lb of white winter wheat and making homemade pasta with flour.
How to Use Soft Red and White Wheat
Soft wheat berries are softer than hard wheat berries and are typically higher in starch and lower in gluten proteins. Because soft wheat is lower in gluten, it isn’t as useful for leavened bread, but it is ideal for unleavened flatbreads and sweet baked goods like cakes and pastries.
Regular flours made from soft wheat are cake and pastry flour. This flour is often used for a baked product that is tender and crumbly but not big and fluffy. Here are some examples of what you can make with soft wheat.
- Pasta (for a tender noodle but can be hard to work with)
Storage Tip: White wheat is not ideal for the bulk of your emergency grain storage for two reasons #1. soft wheat berries are not suitable for leavened bread, and #2 soft wheat berries have 1/3 the shelf life of hard wheat berries when stored oxygen-free.
If you’ve ever eaten from a delicious loaf of fresh-baked bread, more than likely, the flour used came from hard red or hard white wheat or a mixture that could include soft and hard wheat. All-purpose flour is a mix of hard and soft wheat berries.
Storage Tip: Soft-wheat will only store for 8 years in hermetically sealed containers, and hard-wheat stores for 30 +.
How To Use Wheat Berries (Hard Red and White)
Mill hard red and white wheat berries to make leavened bread because they have more gluten. The gluten is what reacts with the yeast to cause bread to rise. Ever seen a big loaf of bread at the farmer’s market? Golden brown and 6″ tall, that’s hard wheat causing the rise.
Hard wheat berries can also be boiled and eaten whole. As with soft wheat, you can use it like porridge or as an ingredient in soups, stews, and salads.
In a survival situation, we can’t forget our goals. One is maximizing nutrition, and hard wheat has a much higher protein level than soft. Combine hard wheat with another food staple like dried beans or bread and nut butter for a whole protein.
Hard wheat is the logical choice for most of your long-term stores because of the 30-year shelf-life and higher protein content.
Wheat Berries: 6 Types
Regarding long-term storage, not all types of wheat berries are created equal. See below wheat classifications, what they are used for, and the shelf-life you can expect if stored correctly in an Oxygen-free container.
Chart #1 Types of Wheat Berries and Their Uses
|6 Wheat Classifications||Common Uses||Shelf Life Years *|
|Hard Red Winter||Versatile, excellent milling and baking characteristics for pan bread, Asian Noodles, Hard rolls, flatbreads, general-purpose flour, and cereal||30 +|
|Hard Red Spring||Considered top-shelf wheat for baking hearth bread, rolls, croissants, bagels, and pizza crust. Valued for improving other flour types by blending.||30 +|
|Soft Red Winter||Low on the gluten scale, solid milling, and baking characteristics. It can be used for cookies, crackers, pretzels, pastries, and flatbreads||8+|
|Soft White||Low On The Gluten Scale. Excellent for pastries, cakes, Asian-style Noodles, and Middle Eastern flatbreads.||8+|
|Hard White||Asian noodles, pan, and flatbreads.||30+|
|Durum||Hard wheat that’s high in gluten. Primarily used for pasta, couscous, and Mediterranean Style bread.||30+|
Learn which wheat berries make which type of flour, and you can prepare flour to fit the use.
Chart #2 8 Types of Wheat Flour and Use
|All-purpose||A combination of hard and soft wheat that can be used in most baked products|
|Bread Flour||Milled from high protein/gluten hard wheat(s), ideal for baking yeast bread|
|Cake Flour||Milled from soft red and white wheat, ideal for cakes, crackers, quick bread, and pastries|
|Pastry Flour||Higher protein content than cake flour but is used for the same purpose.|
|Semolina||The highest protein of all wheat. Not commonly used to make bread but makes top-notch pasta|
|Durum||Used to make noodles|
|Whole Wheat Flour||Ground from a wheat kernel with the husk still intact. Wheat berries have removed the husk, making them suitable for long-term storage. The oil in the wheat husk drastically reduces shelf-life. They are used to make heavy and dense bread.|
|High Gluten Flour||Ground from hard spring wheat is used as a mix for low-gluten wheat. Mainly used for leavened bread|
Wheat Berries For Sprouting (How To Use Wheat Berries In Food Storage)
Wheatberry sprouts can be eaten by themselves or used in salads, sandwiches, soups, or bread. They are a great way to get extra nutrition when the garden is out of season, or fresh vegetables are unavailable.
Sprout Wheat Berries In 10 Easy Steps:
- Wash 1/3 cup of dry wheat berries
- Place berries in a bowl and cover with 1″ of water
- Cover and let sit overnight
- Drain and Rinse Berries
- Clean three 1-quart jars
- Place 1/4 cup of berries in each jar
- Cover jars with cheesecloth and secure them with a rubber band or the lid ring
- Place jars on their side and store them in a cool dark location
- Rinse once per day for 3 or 4 days until sprouted
- Refrigerate until used
*Information Compliments of Bob’s Red Mill
Use Wheat Berries For Animal Fodder (How To Use Wheat Berries In Food Storage)
Wheat animal fodder is wheat berries sprouted and allowed to grow into wheatgrass. Fodder is a survivalist or homesteader’s secret weapon to keep animals in tip-top shape regardless of the time of year.
Making fodder is straightforward and fills the gaps when you may have no other option. It could be a lifesaver if you depend on rabbits or chickens to survive.
5 Reasons to Sprout Wheat Berries For Animal Fodder
- One Pound of wheat berries provides up to 7lb of animal feed.
- Hard wheat berries have a shelf life of 30+ years, and Animal feed lasts about 6 months.
- Wheat berries are cheaper than animal feed. A 50-lb bag of rabbit pellets provides 50lbs of food, and a 50-pound bag of sprouted wheat offers 350 lbs of food.
- Wheat berries can be started indoors in any climate or weather.
- Provides greens when they aren’t growing outdoors
4 Steps to Grow Fodder From Wheat Berries?
- Soak berries in a plastic tray with drainage holes
- Rinse berries once per day with clean water (more if necessary)
- By day 10, you will have a thick mass of green wheatgrass
- Feed the fodder to chickens, quail, ducks, rabbits, or goats
Who will eat it? Chickens, Rabbits, and goats will all eat fodder from wheat berries.
Use Wheat Berries to Brew Beer
Post-SHTF brewing would be a pretty good skill to have. Alcohol is an excellent item for bartering, and beer is closely tied to bread making.
Early in American history, most people got bread yeast from the brewer.
Learn a process called Malting, sprouting, or germinating wheat berries and then drying them once sprouted.
Malted wheat can be used to make beers such as German Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizen, Weizenbock, Belgian Witbier, and American Wheat beer.
Basic Brewing Technique For Wheat Beer
I don’t want to get too much into brewing, but the following instructions give you an idea of how easy it is to make wheat beer.
- steep a bag of wheat berries in 2 gallons of hot water, 160 degrees, for twenty minutes
- remove and discard grain bags
- stir in malt extracts
- turn the heat back on and bring it to a boil
- add bittering hops and boil for an hour
- add flavor and aroma hops at the end of the boil
- cool your wort down, then pitch the yeast
Information compliments of homebrewing.org
Check out homebrewing.org for recipes, instructions, and links to brewing equipment.
Use Wheat Berries to Garden
You need quite a bit of space to grow wheat from your stored grains, but it’s doable if you have at least 1000 ft of garden space available.
A 1000sqft plot will grow a bushel of wheat which is 60lb.
Growing grain is an excellent post-SHTF survival skill.
Winter wheat can be grown in a small space and used as green manure for your compost pile or as mulch on garden beds and around planting areas.
Green manure acts as a mulch, protects soil, conserves water, and adds nutrients to the soil.
Use Wheat Berries to Feed the Chickens
During winter and cold weather, chickens get bored and need nutrition they may not be getting from free-ranging.
Sprout wheat berries in a compost pile and let chickens peck for the sprouts. It gives them something to do and improves your compost pile.
If you are hot composting and your pile is covered with plastic, you may have to break the pile up a bit so the chickens can get at the sprouts.
The hot-composting method is often used next to a greenhouse or a hoop house to provide heat for growing vegetables during the off-season. Scraps from these vegetables can also be fed to the chicks.
Sprout wheat indoors, let it grow into wheatgrass and take it out to the chicken coup. The chicks will love you for it. Happy chickens lay more eggs.