Wheat Berries Shelf Life: Long & Short Term Storage


Storing wheat berries short term is an excellent way to mill your own flour for healthier baked goods, but they are also considered a bedrock staple for long-term storage and emergency food supplies. My family uses wheat for both purposes. It’s a good idea to bake with home-milled flour before you depend on it for survival. That way, you’ll know how to use it, when, and if you depend on it for survival.

The shelf-life of undamaged wheat berries, stored at 10% moisture or less, in an airtight container is six months, wheat berries repackaged into sealed oxygen-free containers such as a Mylar bag or #10 can have a shelf-life of 30 plus years and one year stored in the freezer. 

To ensure you get the maximum shelf life, keep your storage containers in a cool, dry location at 75° or less and above freezing.

A food-grade bucket with a lid lined with a Mylar bag and oxygen absorber will protect wheat from light, oxidation, bugs, bacteria, mold, fungi, and rodent damage for a 30-year shelf-life.

I’m a big advocate of the food-grade bucket, Mylar and O2 absorbers, because they cover all the bases of preparing dry foods like wheat for storage, and it’s easy to do. I’ve packaged over 500lb of food this way. If I can do it, so can you.

Will Broken Wheat Berries Go Bad Faster?

The outer layer of a wheat berry is called the bran. Think of it like armor against wheat berries degrading in quality and nutrition.

Broken wheat berries go bad faster than intact wheat berries. Once the bran or outer shell of a wheat kernel breaks, berries begin to spoil from oxidation, quality and nutritional value begin to deteriorate immediately. If the bran is left intact, wheat berries will store for 6 months up to 30 years.

How To Get The Longest Shelf-life From Wheat Berries

The first step in long-wheat berry life is the quality of the wheat going into your storage container. The second step is re-packaging into an Oxygen-free container. This really easy to do, so don’t be intimidated by it. If I can do it, anyone can.

Get the longest shelf-life from wheat berries (30+years) by re-packaging them into Oxygen-free storage. Start with intact wheat berries with less than 10% moisture and store them in an Oxygen-free container such as the trio of a 5-gallon bucket, lined with a Mylar bag and a 2000cc Oxygen absorber.

If you want to learn how to package dry goods with Mylar bags and food-grade buckets check out ready squirrel’s video on packaging wheat for long-term storage.

The Best Way To Store Wheat Berries Long Term

Mylar, Food-grade buckets and Oxygen absorbers are the best DIY method for storing dry goods like wheat because it’s easy, available to most preppers and it covers all the bases of food protection.

The best way to store wheat berries long-term (30 plus years) is to re-package from store-bought containers to oxygen-free containers such as sealed #10 cans, Mylar bags, or food-grade buckets with oxygen absorbers. Store containers in a cool, dry location below 75° Fahrenheit and above freezing.

This trifecta protects wheat from aerobic bacteria, mildew, fungus and oxygen which degrades food over time.

Wheat Berries Are The Longest Lasting Grain

Wheat is probably the longest-lived grain or seed on the planet. Wheat berries have been found in Egyptian tombs that remain edible. The Egyptian wheat is the exception, not the rule, but it’s not hard to imagine that a tomb along the Nile river banks might be the perfect food storage location for wheat, with no moisture and oxygen-free.

Intact wheat berries will last about 6 months if stored in an airtight container but stored in an oxygen-free container, the shelf life skyrockets by decades. Expect a 30 plus year shelf life from wheat stored in professionally packaged #10 cans or DIY Mylar Bags and Food-grade Buckets with O2 absorbers.

Wheat Berries Or Wheat Flour For Long Term Storage

If you are trying to choose between wheat berries (the whole intact grain) and wheat flour for long-term storage, there is a clear winner.

Wheat berries have a superior shelf-life to pre-milled whole wheat flour when stored in sealed oxygen-free containers. Intact wheat berries stored at less than 10% moisture will last 30 years or more. Unbleached wheat flour will last 6 to 8 months before going rancid.

If you are looking to make bread, pasta, and other baked goods when SHTF, you are better off milling your own wheat into flour as you need it.

Once the bran is broken on a wheat berry (milling a berry into flour) the softer endosperm and germ inside start to oxidize and go rancid from natural oils.

The Containers For Storing Wheat Long-term

There are many containers used to store wheat berries in long-term storage. The most effective method is sealed #10 cans, but it’s not readily available as a “Do It Yourself” method of wheat preservation. The next best things are the storage trifecta of a bucket, Mylar bag, and Oxygen absorber.

The best containers to store wheat berries long-term. A food-grade bucket lined with a Mylar bag, sealed with an Oxygen absorber. Mylar protects wheat from moisture, oxidation, and light. The bucket armors the Mylar from damage. The oxygen absorber kills bugs and stops the oxidation of wheat.

Can Wheat Berries Be Frozen?

Freezing isn’t the best method of preserving wheat berries or any grain, for that matter. Freezing imparts moisture from condensation when it’s thawed. Moisture and grain don’t mix. If you are storing wheat for emergency or survival food, freezing grain is definitely not a good option.

You can freeze wheat berries for preservation if stored in an airtight container. Wheat berries will last a year or more in the freezer, but after a year, the wheat quality will decline.

What’s the Best Way To Kill Bugs In Wheat Berries?

In the past, the best DIY method of killing bugs before re-packaging wheat berries for long-term storage was freezing, but this method is outdated, ineffective, and actually adds moisture to wheat. The one thing you are really trying to avoid in any grain storage.

The best way to kill bugs in wheat berries is to store them in Oxygen-free containers. Containers that provide a proper Oxygen barrier, such as a Mylar bag with an Oxygen Absorber, will remove oxygen and keep it out. All bug life stages, eggs, pupae, and adult bugs, will be dead within two weeks.

Are Wheat and Wheat Berries The Same Thing?

Wheat berries are wheat kernels with the husk removed. The wheat berry consists of bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat is the wheat berry or grain of wheat with the husk, bran, germ, and endosperm intact. The only difference is wheat has the husk, and wheat berries don’t.

Why would you remove the wheat husk for Long-term storage?

Removing the husk from a wheat berry allows for a much longer shelf-life. The husk contains natural oils that will cause wheat kernels to go rancid quickly. The long-shelf life of wheat berries in oxygen-free storage is due to the husk removal.

Do You Have To Cook Wheat Berries Before You Eat Them?

Wheat berries not only make the best homemade baked goods you’ll ever have, but they’re also well-cooked whole or sprouted. In that sense, they are more flexible in long-term storage than pre-milled flour. Not to mention the shelf-life is much longer, but do you have to cook them before you eat them?

It is necessary to cook wheat berries before consuming them. You can cook them whole in boiling water and eat them like porridge or mill them into flour and bake them. One alternative to cooking is to sprout wheat berries in water which takes several days.

How Can You Use Wheat Berries In Long-term Storage?

Wheat berries are super flexible as a staple for long-term emergency or survival food. You can sprout them in just about any condition and eat them as fresh sprouts, dry them and bake them into bread or boil them and eat them like a hot porridge. They can also be ground into flour and used for baked goods like bread, pasta, and pastries.

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