If you really want to start an argument online, ask the question “What is better to store, Wheat berries or Flour?” Within moments you should get a barrage of different arguments for both sides of the question. Simply, the correct answer is, “Whatever you want.”
There are pros and cons to both, and with this article I don’t intend to favor one or the other, rather I choose to give you the information you need to make an informed decision based on your family’s individual needs.
Personally, I store both. I do have 1 25 bucket of wheat berries that I purchased a while back with the intention of eventually buying a quality grain mill. I also store about 300 lbs of all purpose flour.
Storing Wheat Berries
A wheat berry is an entire kernel of wheat, it’s comprised of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat berries tend to have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. When wheat berries are milled, flour is produced. Wheatberries can also be prepared whole they just take a while to cook. Properly packaged wheat can be stored for many years, longer than flour. Just make sure they are stored with O2 absorbers. Whole grains contain oils which can go rancid if exposed to oxygen.
Storing whole berries is far superior to flour in nutritional value which makes it an essential part of your long term storage.
Just one serving of wheat berries (1/4 cup dry) contains over 160 calories and less than one gram of fat. In addition, wheat berries provide over 34 grams of carbohydrates, 174 mg of potassium, 6.4 grams of dietary fiber and 6.4 grams of protein. As well as potassium and dietary fiber, wheat berries are also an excellent source of iron, providing 9% of the total recommended daily intake.
What berries can also be a renewable food source since the kernels can be planted to produce more wheat.
Unless you choose to eat them whole, you will need a grain mill to produce flour. Although you can get an inexpensive grain mill for around $70, I DO NOT recommend it. These mills where not designed to be used everyday. Eventually it will break and then you are up the crick. The only mill that I would recommend is the Country Living Grain Mill, unfortunately you are looking at spending anywhere between $400-$600 depending on the accessories you choose.
Something else to take into consideration: Our diets today are too accustomed to refined products. If we suddenly change to natural whole grain products, expect some tummy problems. If you choose to store whole wheat berries, try to incorporate them in to your diet now to avoid problems later on.
Storing Flour for Long Term Food Storage
Unfortunately, storing flour does not have the shelf life of whole grains. According to King Arthur Flour, you can expect a shelf life of up to 2 years, although some sources will tell you up to 5. Processed flour such as “All Purpose” does not contain the oils associated with spoilage. Whole wheat flour does contain oils from the germ and has a considerably shorter shelf life.
Since flour has more surface area, you will need more O2 absorbers compared to storing berries. See chart here.
Some of the advantages of flour storage are:
- Relativity inexpensive, about $15 per 25lb bag
- No need to mill
- Easy & Fast to prepare
- Can be turned in to hundreds of foods
Rotating your Flour Storage
Unfortunately, even if you practice good rotation, you will still probably have tons of flour left about to expire. This is one of those things we just have to either give away or write off.
I hope I pointed out some of the pros and cons of storing each. It’s time for you to make a decision based on your budget and needs.
Storing Wheat will cost you more upfront whereas storing flour will cost you more in the long run.