Shelf Life Of Wheat Berries

Jacob Moore

Last updated July 14, 2021

Even though wheat is the most widely consumed grain in the United States, wheat berries are surprisingly rare on American grocery lists.

This is because wheat berries are wheat in its purest form: entire grain kernels stripped of the inedible husk.

Before any processing, wheat berries are the source of all wheat products. Wheat flour, for example, is made from milled, ground wheat berries.

Although most people have heard of whole wheat bread and other whole wheat products, only a tiny percentage of individuals have eaten wheat berries.

But how long do wheat berries last, and how do you store them? Continue reading and discover more about wheat berries and storage options.

What are wheat berries?

what are wheat berries

Wheat berries are the edible portion of the wheat kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm before the grain is processed.

You can use this chewy, nutty, high fiber whole grain just like any other whole grain.

Wheat berries have a somewhat sweet, nutty flavor that works well in both sweet and savory meals. Wheat berries also take on some of the characteristics of the dressing or sauce with which you serve them.

Add extra fiber and nutrition to a favorite soup or chili recipe, toss a handful in, or mix it with a vegetable stir-fry like rice.

Wheat berries are in any grocery or natural foods shop near the rice and beans or the baking aisle near the various cereal grains. They are sold with other whole grains like freekeh and bulgur in the international foods section. You can also purchase wheat berries online.

Bob’s Red Mill is a well-known retailer of packed wheat berries. Wheat berries are less expensive than quinoa and other so-called ancient grains since they aren’t as trendy as quinoa and other these other ancient grains.

Why would you want to store wheat berries?

why store wheat berries

There is a disagreement among homesteaders over whether to preserve wheat in whole berries or in ground flour form.

The benefits of raw berries are lauded by one set of people, while the benefits of ready-to-use flour are celebrated by the other.

So, which is the best option?

There is no such thing as a correct answer. It comes down to your particular preferences and aspects such as cost, storage, and versatility, just like many other things in life.

However, as you’ll discover in this article, there are additional benefits to keeping wheat berries:

Wheat berries are cheaper

When it comes to pricing, wheat berries are far less expensive than ground flour. Grinding the flour yourself takes only a few minutes.

When you consider how long the berries will last, it’s clear why whole wheat requires more storage space. A grain grinder is one of the more expensive components of using whole wheat berries.

There are numerous styles and price ranges on the market to choose from. You’ll want to go with a high-quality grain grinder.

Cheaper versions or grinding equipment may appear to be a good deal, but you won’t save anything if you have to replace them multiple times or add extra processing steps.

Wheat berries have a longer shelf life

wodden spoon with wheat berries

You can preserve wheat berries decades, whereas flour only has a short shelf life. As soon as you break the wheat open and expose it to air, the flour loses some of its nutrition and its shelf life decreases.

In addition, the oil in the cracked wheat kernel reacts with the oxygen in the air, causing the flour to become rancid within months.

Several wheat berries which were discovered in the Egyptian pyramids even sprouted after two thousand years, bringing joy to the researchers. Storage is the secret to the longevity of wheat berries. Store them well and you increase their durability. Also store them in cold environments with airtight containers.

You can base your storage decision on factors such as cost, security, and portability. Regardless of what storage method you use, the wheat should be kept cool and out of direct sunlight.

Each of the modern storage systems below has advantages and disadvantages.

  • Mylar bags– These are effective, light, and easy to transport. The inflated cost and rodent vulnerability are their drawbacks.
  • Double bags – Many grains are packaged in double bags, mostly made from cotton. Even though this method has been around for centuries, it does not keep pests out of the grain.
  • Glass jars– You can use glass jars to preserve smaller amounts of wheat berries. When you use these regularly, they are at their finest.
  • Metal cans – For some locations, tin cans are still a common way to store grain. They do have a few disadvantages, such as the cans rusting in humid places. In addition, they require an opener, and the grain may develop a “tinny” odor and flavor (it will spoil after you expose the grain to open air for a while).
  • Barrels – Grain storage in larger bulk quantities is usually done in large barrels. Although these barrels are rodent-proof the concern is their portability. If you have to move quickly, you may have a problem transporting the barrels to your new location.
  • Five-gallon buckets– Many bakers and shops will give you a free 5-gallon bucket if you ask nicely. They stack neatly and you can easily transport them from one location to another. The only significant drawback is that these buckets can be challenging to open and that rodents can nibble through them.
  • Oxygen absorbers– They do precisely what their name suggests: they absorb air and moisture. They help maintain freshness and viability when added to any of these storage techniques. (Because the double bag method isn’t airtight, it’s probably a waste of money.)

Wheat berries are more versatile

versatility of wheat berries

As you use ground flour in recipes, you can also use the whole wheat berries in several ways. They’re a multi-purpose snack that you can boil and eat like oatmeal.

You can pop them like popcorn, substitute them for rice, and use them as filler in meatloaf and other meals.

The berries are a better per-serving choice in terms of nutrition because they retain their nutritional value. Fiber, iron, and potassium are all part of the makeup of the raw wheat berry.

A portion of wheat berries contains approximately 150 calories and over 30 grams of carbohydrates, both of which are required to maintain energy levels. In addition, wheat sprouts are high in iron and various vitamins (A, C, and D), and minerals such as calcium.

You can also plant the grain to provide more produce–for you and your livestock– because it is still whole. One pound of wheat berries yields around seven pounds of animal feed.

It’s a cheap and easy approach to make sure you have enough food for everyone and everything.

Proper ways of storing wheat

ways to store wheat berries

Wheat berries have a long storage life. Archaeologists discovered grain in Egyptian tombs that are still alive and well.

Imagine for how many thousands of years the wheat berries lay safely tucked away.

So if you want to know how long do wheat berries last, there are two requirements to keep in mind:

  • Keep the area moisture-free.
  • And keep the area insect and rodent-free.

Now take a look at these storage solutions.

Storing in bulk

Large food-grade buckets with a lid are a popular way to store wheat berries in bulk. However, a tight-fitting cover is necessary to keep bugs, vermin, and moisture away from the wheat berries.

You can store wheat berries in bulk in Uline 3-gallon food-grade buckets with gamma seal lids. Gamma seal lids are similar to a regular tight-fitting lid in that it attaches to the bucket, but the top screws on and off. This type of seal makes it easier to reach the wheat berries and ensures a tighter lid seal.

Amazon, Lowe’s, Uline, local farms, and ranches supply businesses like North 40 with what berries. All these companies also provide food-safe buckets and lids. If you’re seeking a low-cost storage option, inquire at your local grocery store for unwanted containers.

Bakeries also sell unwanted frosting buckets, which you can use as excellent storage containers. You could also get a few containers from Walmart for roughly a dollar each, and while they are small, they do the job.

Pantry friendly options

how to store wheat berries

Pantries vary in use and size. In more extensive areas like farmhouses, you have an outdoor storeroom where farmers store food in bulk.

They also typically keep a smaller amount on hand in the kitchen pantry for convenience.

Pantry cupboards are usually tall, so it is essential that your storage options are reasonable in size and attractive.

Don’t be reluctant to use your imagination. Remember that the only requirements are that the containers are resistant to bugs, pests, and moisture. Kitchen storage containers and canisters that are airtight are ideal.

Mason jars are both decorative and practical. Even a gallon Ziploc storage bag will suffice, and it’s simple to dump into a measuring cup or grinder.

Limited space-friendly options

Is your storage space limited? If so, there are other ways of dealing with your issue.

For example, wheat berries are sold in 2.5 pound re-sealable, food-safe, moisture-resistant bags by several farmsteads in 5-pound increments. The good thing is that you only open what you require, preserving the freshness of the remaining wheat berries.

Subscription services are also available so you can have your wheat berries delivered to you whenever you need them. So, it is unnecessary to stock up on enormous quantities.

And that is all there is to storing your wheat berries–no need to worry about refrigerating, freezing, or preserving.

How long can it last when stored properly?

storage of wheat berries

Wheat berries will store for up to 30 years. To answer the question of how long do wheat berries last from a different perspective, they will only last this long if you store them correctly.

Also, if you store wheat berries properly, they will maintain up to 80% or more of their nutritional value. You also achieve a long shelf life by packaging wheat berries in an oxygen-free container with proper storage in areas that are cool, dry, and dark.

Wheat berries’ moisture content should be ten percent or less before packaging and storing them.

How long do wheat berries last depends largely on your packaging and storage methods. For the DIY’er, there is no better way of storing dry goods than with the handy container trio: Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and oxygen absorbers.

Here’s how to package wheat berries in nine easy steps:

  1. Place a Mylar bag measuring 18”x28” In a clean 5-gallon food-grade bucket.
  2. Fill the Mylar bag with wheat that has less than 10% moisture content.
  3. Place a 2,000 CC oxygen absorber on top of the grain.
  4. Use a home iron on the highest setting to seal the Mylar bag.
  5. Fold the Mylar Bag gently into the bucket.
  6. Secure the bucket lid.
  7. You should write the date and type of food on the bucket.
  8. Store the bucket in a cool, dry place away from the sun and off the floor.
  9. If you stack buckets more than three high, they will fracture.

Foods with a moisture content of more than ten percent that you store in an oxygen-free environment risk attracting botulism, which is deadly.

You do not need to free wheat before storage if you keep it in an oxygen-free environment. Bugs, bug eggs, and pupae, especially weevils, will perish in an oxygen-deficient environment.

Best wheats for storing

types of wheat best for storage

Soft wheat is ideal for storing for a long time. However, there are a few things to consider before storing this product.

People often use soft wheat in the preparation of flatbreads, biscuits, and pastries. Manufacturers typically use hard wheat to make rising dough for items such as bread.

Soft wheat doesn’t make particularly fluffy yeast bread unless you blend it with hard wheat since it has lower gluten levels. In addition, when it comes to protein, you are receiving fewer bangs for your buck when you use soft wheat.

Soft wheat is less of an issue if you plan to eat primarily flatbreads in a survival situation. Still, unless you add protein to your batter or make flatbread with a high protein staple like beans, you’ll get less protein. You can also store soft wheat as a supplement to your hard wheat, but it should not be your primary grain for bread-making.

The most protein-rich winter wheat is hard red winter wheat, although hard white winter wheat also makes for the best-tasting bread.

Both the flavor and the amount of protein in a dish are significant but you can reduce palate fatigue with good-tasting food. And a diet rich in protein keeps you alive.

Keep in mind that you won’t add a bread to your usual diet if you don’t enjoy the taste.

Farro wheat comes from wheat berries and is cultivated in hot climates as opposed to wheat berries grown in cold climes. Ancient wheat cultivars such as einkorn, spelt, and emmer are used to make the most popular types of Farro.

Farro is also used differently than wheat berries. People typically prepare Farro and eat it like rice. You can also use it to produce bread, pastries, and other baked items, just like any other wheat berry, but it’s usually boiled and eaten whole.

You can cook and eat wheat berries whole in the winter, although you should generally use them in baked dishes. People often preserve wheat berries and Farro for lengthy periods rather than use wheat flour.

When you preserve wheat, you typically extend its shelf life. Instead of grinding berries into flour in huge quantities, grind them into flour as you need it if you want to extend the shelf life of the larger portion.

You can use any wheat berry or flour for any purpose, but if you use flour with properties that match the food you’re creating, you’ll get better results.

For example, the hard red and white wheat berries are the most widely utilized in long-term storage. These berries are more widely used because they have the highest protein and gluten content for making bread.

Look at the list below for the common wheat types, their shelf life, and their uses.

  1. Type: Spelt

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Spelt is said to make excellent tasting bread, for example, yeast bread, pasta, biscuits, and crackers.

  1. Type: Durum

durum

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Durum is high in protein and makes great pasta and unleavened bread. When you grind Durum wheat to make semolina flour, you get a thick sticky gluten.

  1. Type: Hard Red Spring

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Hard red spring is also high in protein and best in yeast or sourdough, or to make a classic whole wheat bread.

  1. Type: Hard Red Winter

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Hard red winter is the highest in protein and excellent for sprouting and yeast bread.

  1. Type: Hard White

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Hard White is a medium protein and tastes excellent in white bread, beer making, and leavened bread.

  1. Type: Emmer

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Emmer is a viable choice for making pasta and unleavened flatbread.

  1. Type: Einkorn

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Einkorn makes good leavened and unleavened bread.

  1. Type: Kamut

kamut wheat berries

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Kamut is organic Khorasan wheat, which you can use in leavened bread and pasta.

  1. Type: Khorasan

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Khorasan makes tasty, leavened bread.

  1. Type: Soft Red

soft red wheat

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Soft Red is a medium protein and is first-rate for bread and beer making.

  1. Type: Soft White

Shelf life is 30+years.

Uses: Soft White is low in protein, which is perfect to make batters for cakes, cookies, waffles, pancakes, and soup thickener.

Important: If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, stay away from wheat.

Conclusion

Because hard wheat berries contain more protein than soft wheat berries, they are ideal for long-term storage. In addition, due to high gluten-protein levels, 12 to 15% of the population is gluten-intolerant.

Dry goods are frequently frozen before storage by old-school preppers, which eliminates all phases of insect life in grains. When you purchase most grains, they contain bug eggs.

Wheat berries do not need to be frozen before storage if you store them in an oxygen-free environment. In an oxygen-free container, bugs, eggs, and pupae will die within two weeks.

How long do wheat berries last is up to how well you store this product. First, create an oxygen-free storage environment in any container with a sound oxygen barrier.

Using food-grade Mylar bags, food-grade pales, and oxygen absorbers are the best D.I.Y. approach to extend the shelf life of your wheat berries.

Jacob Moore

Jacob Moore is the founder of BasicFoodPrepper.com, and he has spent more time surviving in the wilderness than an average human being. A familiar face from the rural United States, Jacob has always wanted to live close to nature. Even after spending a few years in the buzzing world of cities and 9 to 5 jobs, he managed to get out to the outer world when he got a chance. Jacob would say that hiking is his passion, and he has spent up to several weeks in the wild.