If you are wondering how to store wheat berries long-term it means you are advancing as a prepper. You’re moving beyond stocking extra canned goods and freeze-dried food. Your food storage is becoming more diverse and longer lasting.
Here I explain how to store wheat berries for 30 years or more. They can help lengthen the time you and your family can live off your food storage after a collapse.
This article was also created in video format, so if you’re more of a visual learner, just hit play below.
Wheat berries are the perfect addition to a prepper’s pantry because they can be purchased in bulk for a reasonable price, they store for a very long time under the right conditions, they are healthy to eat, and they are versatile.
If you’re still a little confused by this, that’s understandable. I wasn’t familiar with wheat berries either, until I got into prepping.
What exactly is a wheat berry? It’s a kernel of wheat with the husk removed. It’s that simple. The bran, germ, and endosperm are all still preserved in the berry.
Where to Buy Wheat Berries
There are various retailers online where you can buy wheat berries. I compared a lot of prices and ended up buying mine from Living Sky Grains. They didn’t sponsor this post, it’s just where I found the best price. Shipping plays a big factor in the price, so when you are looking to buy, make sure you compare the shipping costs, not just the retail price.
Wheat berries are heavy when purchased in bulk. For that reason, I thought I could save money by buying local from a health food store, but they didn’t sell more than 1-pound packages, erasing any savings I could have made by eliminating shipping. It was actually cheaper to buy them in bulk and have them shipped to my house.
Important to note here – do not buy “seed” wheat for storage. This is a mistake some beginners make. Seed wheat often has chemical treatments that you want to avoid.
Fortunately, most bulk retailers sell organic wheat berries. Also make sure the berries you’re buying are also pre-cleaned. Cleaning them is not a process you want to do at home.
3 Reasons Preppers Should Stock Wheat Berries
Preppers should always start food storage by storing extra foods of those they already eat, but eventually you’ll want to expand into longer-term food storage, foods beyond just more bulk freeze-dried survival food. Rice, beans, and yes – wheat berries – are ideal, low-cost additions that can supply nutrients decades into the future when/if properly stored.
1 – Long Shelf-Life
Wheat berries store much longer than flour. Properly stored flour, under ideal conditions, might store for 10 years or so. Wheat berries can be kept good for 30 years or more while retaining 80% of its nutritional value!
Wheat berries are better for long-term storage than straight wheat because the husk has a high oil content, which contributes to wheat going rancid in storage. This is the same reason that it’s best to store white rice long-term and not brown rice. Remove the husk and you extend its shelf-life.
2 – Health Benefits
In addition to their exceptional storage life, wheat berries are highly nutritious. Because the bran and germ are still preserved, the berries retain plenty of vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, iron, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
A quarter cup of wheat berries also has about 170 calories. Calories count when food is scarce.
3 – Versatility
People often associate wheat berries with flour, and while that’s the most common use of wheat, it’s not the only use for wheat berries. They’re far more versatile than you might think, giving you different options when you have to eat them after a collapse.
Food variety cannot be overlooked when eating from a prepper pantry for months on end.
You can grind them with an electric or manual grinder to create flour, but you can also eat them in other ways. You can cook them into a breakfast food like porridge or oatmeal. Cooking them in a similar way to rice, you can even eat them as-is with some stored salt and pepper or add them to soups, stews, and casseroles. Mix them with dried fruit or add them burritos. Sprinkle them onto a fresh salad. You can even pop them like popcorn! Your choices are limited only by your imagination and palate.
Gluten will lose some of its raising power over time, so these other ways to eat wheat berries may be preferable to making flour if you are using decades-old wheat kernels.
How to Store Wheat Berries – 3 Steps
1 – Assemble Your Supplies
Get all the necessary supplies together. You will need:
- Your wheat berries
- Food-grade buckets or other rodent-proof, air-tight container such as polyethylene bags or #10 cans
- Mylar bags
- Oxygen absorbers
- Clothes iron
- A scrap piece of lumber
Determine the size of the Mylar bags you want to use. You might initially think, “I’ll just get the biggest bag to fit inside a 5-gallon bucket.” That is the most efficient and cost-effective approach for large quantities, but how will you be using the wheat berries once you open it?
You don’t want to expose an entire bucket’s worth of wheat to the air if you’re only going to use it a little at a time over a longer period. In that case, you might be better off storing wheat berries in one-gallon Mylar bags. One-gallon bags are also easier to lift, more portable, and could be used for bartering.
- [4 IN 1 MYLAR BAGS SET] You get extra large capacity, 10.5mil thick, heat-sealable, stand-up 15 pack 5 gallon mylar bags, 15 individual 2000cc oxygen absorber packets, 25 sticker labels for food storage(1.4” x 2”) and 2 sealing clip for sealing the mouth of the bag, it easily meet your food storage needs.
- [EXTRA THICK & STURDY MATERIAL] Our mylar bags are made of premium PET aluminum foil. The most important 10.5 mil thick(5.25 mil on each side), making it stronger & durable, and prevents tears, cuts and pin holes to keep your food long term fresh and safe.
Why do you use a Mylar bag and a food-grade bucket? The two may seem redundant, but there’s a reason you use both. Mylar can’t be beat as an oxygen, moisture, and light barrier. Wheat is great for long-term storage even when exposed to air. Moisture is wheat’s biggest enemy but sealing off the oxygen also kills off bugs and pupa.
The problem with Mylar is that it can be easily punctured, and it doesn’t stack well. The bucket protects the bag from accidental puncture and allows you to stack them on top of one another (three high maximum). Rodents also can’t get into plastic buckets, but they could easily rip into Mylar bags.
2 – Place Wheat Berries and Oxygen Absorbers Inside the Mylar Bag
Set the Mylar bag inside the bucket. Then place an oxygen absorber inside the bottom of the bag, pour in some wheat berries, add another oxygen absorber, and repeat until the bag is full.
Important – do not leave your oxygen absorbers hanging out. Take them out of their package and immediately use them. If they sit out for a while, they will be absorbing the oxygen around you and not work when you put them in the sealed Mylar bag.
If you’re unsure how many oxygen absorbers to use, see my oxygen absorber table as a guide. I used 2000ccs of oxygen absorbers in a 5-gallon bag of wheat berries. You can buy single 2000cc absorbers, and that should work fine, but I prefer using four 500cc absorbers so that I can spread them throughout the bag.
3 – Seal the Top of Your Mylar Bag
Now you’re ready to seal the bag up. Squeeze out all the extra air that you can and lay a scrap piece of lumber across the top of the bucket with the Mylar bag folded across it. Set your clothes iron on its highest setting and run it across the Mylar bag several times to heat seal it.
That’s it – you’re done! Now you just need to wait 24 hours or so for the oxygen absorbers to do their work. It will be evident when the bag is vacuum sealed tight against the wheat berries.
The ideal storage temperatures for your wheat berries is 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit. I store my wheat berries in my (dry) basement.
How Much Should You Store?
General guidelines for long-term survival is to store 150 pounds of wheat berries per adult per year. Children could get by with half that amount. If that sounds like a lot of wheat berries that’s because it is, but a year is also a long time.
You can start small. Another way to look at it is 12.5 pounds per person per month. Buy a 50-pound bag to start and you now have enough stored wheat berries to serve a family of four for one month. Add another 50-pound bag to your stock at a future date and now you’re at two months. Like I said, this stuff will last 30+ years. Adding to it over time is easy because for all intents and purposes, it just doesn’t go bad.
Wheat Berry Storage FAQs
Should You Store Hard or Soft Wheat?
Hard wheat is better for long-term storage because it offers more protein, a critical nutrient in a long-term collapse and it’s great for making bread. However, if you’re an avid baker and want to make fresh biscuits and pastries post-collapse, add some soft wheat to your storage, but not at the expense of storing hard wheat. Nutrients are more important than a flaky crust in a collapse.
Should You Store Red or White Wheat?
Hard red and hard white are the two most common types of wheat berries used in long-term food storage. Which one to store really comes down to personal preference. Ideally you store a bit of both, but if you can only choose one, I would opt for white wheat berries. The flavor is more consistent with what you are accustomed to eating during normal times with store bought breads. That will make your dietary transition post-collapse easier and reduce the odds of appetite fatigue.
Red hard wheat has the most protein (gluten), but it also has a stronger flavor, which isn’t necessarily what you’re looking for. Red has a more “gamey” flavor to it.
Do Wheat Berries Go Bad?
Wheat berries do not readily go bad and can last a very long time in the right conditions. However, if they were not stored in ideal conditions, or your storage has been compromised, there are some signs too look for that indicate your stored berries have gone bad.
- The first would be moisture, wheat’s greatest enemy. If your wheat berries have become wet or damp, their shelf-life plummets. Use them ASAP.
- Spoiled wheat will have a foul smell and odd coloring.
- If your wheat has a lot of dust, the berries are damaged, or there are small black specs, it’s probably become compromised by bugs, weevils being the most likely culprit.
Can You Store Wheat Berries in the Refrigerator?
Yes, you can store wheat berries in a refrigerator, but only do this for short-term use. You can also just keep them in a simple airtight container at room temperature.
Should You Freeze Wheat Berries Before Storing?
You do not need to freeze wheat berries before storing them long-term. This idea stems from the fact that freezing the berries first will kill off any insects and pupa. While that is true, storing them in an oxygen-starved environment like I describe below will also kill all insects. Skip the freezing step if you follow my directions below.