Do you know how to use wheat?
Wheat is the most basic and versatile whole grain that you can store in your food storage. It is likely that many of you have wheat in your food storage already, but if you are anything like I was years ago, you may not know much about it.
I’d like to solve that for you today and clue you in to what you need to know about how to use wheat.
What I Love about Wheat
Unless you have Celiac disease, I highly recommend storing and learning how to use wheat.
- It has a high nutritional value and protein level
- It is very inexpensive per calorie
- It can be used for many different things
But if you are going to store it, there are things you should know about how to use wheat:
You Need to Know How Use Wheat and Then Use It!
Yes, wheat has a very long shelf life. Most will say 25-30 years, but I’ve used properly stored wheat far older than that (60+ years) with great success. So, if it lasts “forever,” you might ask why use it now? Well, that is a fair question!
There are a few reasons:
#1 – Serving unfamiliar food in time of crises isn’t smart psychologically. You, and your family/kids, will already be stressed enough without having to eat foods you aren’t familiar with and don’t know how to use.
You need to figure out what your family likes before you are forced to use it. You also need to figure out how to use unfamiliar foods such as wheat before you are faced with a crises, and it is all you have to feed your family.
But that is true of anything you choose to store. There is one additional reason to learn how to use wheat and then to eat that wheat now.
#2 – If your family is not used to eating wheat and then they have to do so suddenly, it will wreak havoc on their digestive system. Obviously, this wouldn’t be fun, but it could also be quite dangerous, especially if quality medical care isn’t available.
Wheat Becomes Flour – And you Likely Know How to Use Flour!
Each piece of whole wheat is called a wheat berry or kernel. If you put dry whole wheat berries in a grain mill (a.k.a. wheat grinder), you get whole wheat flour.
But the flour you make from wheat berries isn’t the same as the store bought all-purpose white flour you get at the grocery store–it’s better! Store bought all-purpose white flour has had all the nutrients stripped from it, and it is a simple carbohydrate (not a whole grain). Simple carbohydrates just add calories to your food, not nutrients.
The whole wheat flour you will make with your wheat berries will be full of nutrients.
.Note – Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning if you purchase after clicking on them, I will be given a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Learn more here about how I am (and am not) compensated, and thank you for your support of me and my family!
Store Wheat Instead of Flour
Store bought all-purpose flour and home ground whole wheat flour have a short shelf life, but wheat berries have a very long shelf life (25+ years). Flour is also more expensive per calorie. For these reasons, I don’t recommend storing too much flour.
Instead, store whole wheat and a grain mill. This will allow you to provide your family with flour whenever you need it.
The Victorio Hand Grain Mill is the mill that I started with. I had it for emergencies only to be honest. I tried using it a few times and it took a LLLOOONNNGGG time (and a lot of arm strength) to grind enough flour for a loaf of bread. But it is inexpensive, well made, and creates great flour. If your budget is currently limited, this is a decent option.
I now use the Wondermill Electric Grain Mill to grind my own flour from wheat. It is crazy fast, easy to clean, and creates beautiful flour (you have control over how coarse/fine). This has allowed me to really use my wheat more often as it isn’t such an involved process to grind up my wheat.
Last, I also now own the Wonder Junior Hand Mill. It is 20xs faster than the smaller one I used to own. It will grind 6 cups of flour in just 5 minutes and doesn’t leave your arm feeling like rubber! You can adjust it from super fine to cracked grains. You can also get a bicycle attachment that allows you to grind wheat into flour while riding a bike and/or a drill attachment that allows you to use a hand drill to run the mill.
How to Store Whole Wheat
Just as important as how to use wheat is how to store it. Wheat should be stored in a sealed #10 can with an oxygen abosorber or in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber that is then placed inside of a five-six gallon bucket. You can read more about how to do that here.
Once it is properly packaged, wheat should be stored where it is cool, dark, and dry.
Once you open a can of wheat and grind it into flour, you will need to use it quickly as whole wheat flour can go rancid within a few weeks to a few months depending on heat and humidity.
Pro tip: You can store whole wheat flour in your freezer and extend the shelf life up to around six months.
Wheat Can Be Hard or Soft and Red or White
When I first started working on food storage back in 2007, I had no idea that there were different types of wheat! This one fact is HUGE when it comes to learning how to use wheat!
There are four main types that I will touch on today.
Hard vs Soft
Hard wheat has more protein and is better for making breads. On the other hand, soft wheat has less protein and is better for pastries and pastas.
Red vs White
Red wheat is what most people think of when they think of wheat. It is dark brown in color, and it has a somewhat bitter taste. It works best in rustic, artisan, or other hard breads. Recipes that call for hard red wheat flour sometimes call for slightly more sugar to help mask the bitter taste. Finished breads look like what most people think of when they think “wheat bread.”
White wheat was an exciting discovery for me! It is golden in color and naturally sweeter and less bitter than red wheat. It works best in pan loaves, rolls, and other soft breads. Finished breads look more similar to breads made with 100% white all-purpose flour but still have all the nutritional content of red wheat breads.
You can see the differences in red and white wheat in the image below. White wheat germ, flour, and bread is on the right, and red wheat germ, flour, and bread is on the left in each picture:
Yes, the are both whole wheat. White wheat is simply missing the genes for color. It does have slightly less protein, but the difference is negligible.
You Can Make Breakfast Cereal with Wheat
While grinding wheat into flour is a great way to use wheat, you don’t have to grind wheat to use it. You can use the berries themselves to make a highly nutritious breakfast cereal.
Simply soak your wheat berries overnight, and then rinse them in the morning. Add three cups of water per cup of wheat berries and bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour. Add honey, milk, and freeze dried fruit (affiliate) to your liking!
If you don’t have time for an overnight soak, “crack” your wheat by putting it in a blender (1/2 cup or less at a time) and pulsing it a few times. Rinse it, add three cups water, and then simmer for about an hour and add in honey, milk, and/or freeze dried fruit. (affiliate)
You Can Use Wheat in Place of Rice
If your family eats of lot of rice, substituting wheat for rice can be a great way to occasionally add wheat into your diet.
Just add two cups water to every one cup wheat berries and simmer for 45 minutes. The softened wheat berries work well anywhere you would use rice.
You Can Use Wheat as a Meat Substitute
Wheat gluten has a lot of protein in it, so it can be used as a meat substitute. This is a very lengthy process though, and I honestly don’t love the taste of the finished product. However, it is good to know–especially if you aren’t ready or able to store real meat in your food storage yet.
Basically, you go through a process that separates the gluten from the rest of the wheat to create a substance that is similar to hamburger (and with just a much protein) called seitan. If you want to give it a try, you can find a quality article (with lots of great pictures) that will show you how HERE.
Alternatively, you can simply add bouillon to cooked, cracked wheat berries for a meat extender. It won’t taste as close as the seitan, but it takes far less work.
Wheat Can Be Sprouted
Wheat sprouts and wheat grass are a great way to get some veggies (and the nutrients that come with them) into your food storage if you don’t yet have many veggies stored. If you are interested in learning how to sprout your wheat (and beans), I highly recommend this book. (affiliate)
Where to Buy Wheat
The best and least expensive place to buy wheat is from the LDS Home Storage Center. You can see if there is one near you here. If not, you can order both hard white wheat and hard red wheat on their website.
Still Have Questions about the Wheat in Your Food Storage?
I’d love to hear them! Leave me a comment below, and I will get back to you in a few days!
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