Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies

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wheatWhy store wheat?  That has always been a question rolling around in my head.  After all, I have never eaten raw wheat and to the best of my knowledge, wheat had to be milled, ground and otherwise processed before it could be come usable.

On the other hand, my education in all things preparedness has taught me that wheat – or more specifically wheat berries – is one of the cornerstones to serious long term food storage.  Oh boy.  What’s a gal to do?

How to Live on Wheat

A couple of weeks ago I contacted John Hill, the author of “How to Live on Wheat” and asked him if he would be willing to provide me with a review copy of the latest version of his book.  (At the time I did not realize that he was almost a neighbor here in Washington State.)  What a guy!  I had a book in hand a few days later and I was off to the races.  Yesterday I sat out on the porch and read his book cover to cover – an easy read – and I now get it. 

As John relates in his book:

  • Wheat is nutritious (typically 13% to 20% protein)
  • Wheat is high in gluten – necessary for quality bread making
  • Wheat stores well
  • Wheat is relatively inexpensive

So what about the book? 

First of all, let me say that it is the perfect primer for someone who wants to get started in learning about wheat as well as other whole grains and legumes.  I learned about the different types of grains and legumes, the nutritional considerations, and the storage requirements.  I even about anti-nutrients which are compounds that interfere with the absorption of good-guy nutrients.

Did you know that there are both live grains and dead grains and that the storage requirements are different.  As John explains in his book, you do not store live grains in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.  The live grains need oxygen to sprout.

There was also an extensive section on sprouting.  This I liked because even though I am not ready to jump in and purchase a grain mill in order to grind my own flour, there are plenty of nutritious and delicious ways to use sprouted wheat (and grains) as raw food or in salads, soups, or other foods.  As a matter of fact, sprouting can actually increase the nutritional value of these items.

Which leads to to the recipes?  Want to give sourdough a shot?  There is a recipe for making your own starter.  Cast iron cooking and baking?  Yep, a whole section on that.  And finally, there is huge section on resources:  where to buy, how much to store, and essential tools and supplies.

Wheat as Survival Food

Talk about a powerhouse.  Who knew?  I always thought that other than bread, wheat was primarily used in baked goods – the sugary fattening stuff.  Of course, since baking my own bread (see Baking bread and why you should do it), I knew that whole wheat flour could be used for lots of things that are not necessarily bad for you but now the world of wheat berries, wheat sprouts, and other wheat related goodies has been opened up for exploration.

And lucky for me, I still have my mason jar sprouting kit left over from the seventies.

Here is a link to John’s book:  How to Live on Wheat.

Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!


From the Bargain Bin:  You know how I hate giving or receiving money as a gift.  Try gift cards instead.  Amazon has a great selection – perfect for that special father.

Emergency Essentials is a great source of food for long term storage as well as supplies.  Their monthly specials are especially good.


Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies — 9 Comments

  1. Gaye, I did a review of John Hill’s wheat book and I was amazed at how many things you can do with wheat. I talked to John and he has several other survival related books too. He wrote one on colloidal silver and its medicinal uses and also a book on how to prepare for a disaster beyond 72 hours. He is a great guy and really knows his stuff.

  2. I feel like a bit of an idiot here, but what are “wheat spouts”? I thought at first maybe you meant “sprouts”, but then several more references to “spouts” occur, and I’m left confused.

    • Oh my gosh. You know I check and double check my posts for spelling and grammar errors but this one got by me. You are correct when you say I meant “sprout”. My spell checker had changed all instances to spout. Jeesh.

      Thanks so much for letting me know. I now have egg on my face.

      – Gaye

  3. Wanted: grains, dead or alive?
    I thought I scored big time when I bought someone’s old Y2K stash of wheat berries. These were from Walton Feed in Idaho (an excellent source of grains for grinding and sprouting), in their ‘super pails’ (6 gallon buckets, mylar bagged and nitrogen purged). Someone was concerned about TEOTWAWKI, and bought accordingly. 10 years later, they died of natural causes, and their pantry was sold. The pails had been stored in a cool, dark place, and unopened. But, more than 10 years after they were purchased, and who knows how long after they were packaged, are these grains ‘dead’? If so, what are the current nutritive values? They probably won’t sprout, but will they make good bread, or one of the other myriad recipes out there?

    Thanks for your blogging!

    • Given your description of the age and method of storage I would say that your wheat is edible, especially for bread, but will have lost some food value. When you make bread include other grains such as cooked amaranth, millet and flax to bring the food value up. Try sprouting a couple of tablespoons of the wheat. If you want to be scientific count out 100 kernals then count how many sprout. Fresh wheat kernels will have sprouting rates in the high ninety percent range. If your wheat sprouts, you can eat it that way; dry and grind it for your bread; feed it to poultry (and get fresh eggs from the converted wheat); or grow a small plot of the wheat. Worst case, if none of it sprouts, trade it to someone with chickens and ask for eggs in return.

  4. Be sure to get a sourdough starter and make your bread that way. The U.S. term is misleading, because a sourdough starter is simply natural yeast and does not have to be sour in taste. Once you have a starter and use it weekly, you never have to buy yeast again. But, the best thing is the flavor and digestibility. Many people with gluten intolerance can eat sourdough bread because during the long slow rise (I let mine work overnight) the yeast consumes or changes the gluten while developing wonderful flavor.

  5. Gaye,
    You’re killing me – buying canned meat? OY and Vey! :-)
    I started rotating my supplies at the start of June; pints of meat that I canned in 2008; Tuna, beef, chicken and pork. So for the last few weeks I have been eating a variety and I have to say I am very pleased with the quality and taste. The meats, especially the Tuna, are still firm and I believe could be stored for a lot longer. One thing for your followers; I store all my home canned stuff in plastic buckets and can get 14 pints of meat as well as ‘something’ else. In this case I have 150 packets of Top Ramen that was stored in 2008 and there is no way I would eat all that. I was considering finding a pig farmer but on a whim I called the local food bank and they said they would take it gladly. They evidently have some discretion in what they accept. Point is, if you are rotating supplies that you won’t eat, please call your food bank instead or tossing. Also, I invested in the Red Feather canned cheese (and butter) but am now thinking I will try the wax method to store wheels of cheese – I am thinking if I drill some small (1/16”) holes in a plastic bucket it should let the cheese breath – any thoughts on this anyone?

    • Mike,

      Since writing the article on wheat, I have pretty much gone to a 90% plant based diet. Looking back over the last month, I have consumed a couple of cans of canned chicken but that is about it.

      I recently did a bit of research on the hot wax methodpreservingving cheese. No if I could only remember what I did with this.

      Thanks for your comment and feedback.

      — Gaye

      • Have you been able to find the time to put together an article on preserving cheese in wax? I’d like to hear your take on it because your articles make such sense. Thanks in advance!

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