Complete Guide to Storing Wheat in Food Storage


Wheat is an excellent candidate for food storage, especially long-term. Due to its suitability for long-term storage, wheat is a popular food for emergency supplies. In addition, it’s a helpful grain that can be purchased in bulk and used regularly.

Wheat contains many nutrients, such as calcium and iron. It is also a significant source of fiber and protein, which are essential to a healthy diet. Therefore, it’s vital to store wheat properly to retain its nutrients and avoid spoilage.

Below, we’ll dive into the best methods and equipment for storing wheat. We’ll touch on which varieties are available, where to purchase wheat, and cover some frequently asked questions, so we are ready to start storing our wheat supply.

An image of Wheat grains in hands at mill storage.

How Long Wheat Lasts in Food Storage

Wheat can last over 30 years in storage and has been viable for as long as centuries and millennia. As with all food storage, the key to longevity is following proper storage methods and avoiding factors that lead to food spoilage.

The methods and equipment we should use for storage can vary depending on how long we intend to store wheat.

Fun fact: I’ve learned (from multiple documentaries) that some wheat found in the pyramids was still viable despite being multiple thousands of years old! So, grains like wheat can be a great food storage option. But maybe don’t count on it lasting 2,000-plus years – just to be safe.

How to store wheat short-term

To store wheat for short-term use, use plastic bags, jars, or large Tupperware containers. Wheat stores like this fine for up to several months. Or, seal the wheat to maximize freshness for 6 to 12 months. When using plastic bags, consider vacuum-sealing them for any length of storage.

Using transparent storage equipment is a good idea for keeping an eye on how much wheat we have left. A good habit to get into is dating our containers so we know when we first transferred the wheat to storage.  

Most wheat will last between 6-18 months in short-term storage. This means no additional measures have been carried out to preserve the grain. This is ideal when using grain regularly, especially if we don’t intend to keep it for the future.

To extend shelf life, we can store grains in the freezer. But, again, we want to ensure that we seal our bag or container completely. Freezing will preserve nutrients but is only appropriate for short-term storage as it can increase moisture content.  

How to store wheat long-term

To store wheat long-term, use storage containers that are free of pests, moisture, and oxygen. The environment in which the wheat is stored must be consistent in temperature and humidity. Label the wheat and rotate stock throughout usage to ensure the oldest is used first.

When storing wheat, pick a container that best suits your needs (more information on containers is available below). Consider how long to keep the wheat, how much space there is, and the conditions in the storage space.

Before storage, treat the wheat to avoid infestation, which will compromise food storage. There are several tried and tested methods that can protect wheat from insects.

Note: most store-bought wheat is already treated for pests and infestation.

Before placing the wheat into long-term storage, the temperature and light conditions should be consistent to promote safe storage. Low light, low humidity or moisture, and ambient or cool temperatures are the ideal conditions for wheat storage.

You may also want to add oxygen absorbers into the container to help the wheat stay good for the longest amount of time possible.

Taking note of what has been stored and keeping track of dates is a helpful tool for making the most out of stored wheat. When storing wheat, be sure to label the containers with storage dates and the type of wheat.

Make a log or itinerary of all foods stored to help identify what should be consumed first.

It’s a good idea to draw up a plan or checklist for the storage process, especially if dealing with large quantities or varieties of wheat.

The checklist will ensure a clear outline of the storage process so that we can be confident about following each step for successful long-term wheat storage.

How much wheat should be stored per person?

One person should have approximately 150 lbs. of wheat per year. For a three-week emergency supply, each adult should have about nine pounds of wheat.

The table below displays the required weight needed per number of people for a week, month, and year. The weight is approximate for average consumption.

Take one week’s allowance and adjust it to your intake. Children’s amounts are based on their age – eight or younger. When considering portions for a child, they will usually consume half of the grain of an adult.

Number of people1 Week1 Month1 Year
1 Person2.8 lbs12.5 lbs150 lbs
Family of 4 (2 adults & 2 children)8.4 lbs37.5 lbs450 lbs
Family of 6 (2 adults & 4 children)11.2 lbs50 lbs600 lbs
10 People 28 lbs 125 lbs1500 lb 
Table 1: Storage amounts per person and for families. Wheat weight is measured in pounds.

Between 300 – 400 pounds of wheat is the essential survival ration for one adult per year. This should include a variety of grains such as oats, pasta, rice, and wheat.

This amount will provide suitable nutrients for an adult’s requirements. It’s important to remember that a well-rounded diet should consist of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. All of these elements should be considered for emergency long-term food storage.

An image of wheat and wheat products on a rustic wooden background.

What varieties of wheat store best?

Hard white or red wheat varieties have the lowest moisture levels and are generally the best option for any long-term food storage. The ideal wheat grain for long-term food storage will have a moisture level lower than 10%.

The best varieties of wheat to store on a long-term basis are those that naturally have a lower moisture level than other wheat varieties.

Deciding which type of wheat to store depends on each person’s ideal use for the grains. Regardless of wheat variety, the storage conditions must be dry and ambient to avoid moisture build-up, which will compromise the wheat.

White wheat grains create more refined flour. This grain can be used in pastries or for soft bread. White grains contain less protein than red and have a sweeter, milder flavor.

Red wheat grains are an all-rounder used in all-purpose flour, cereals, and tortillas. Red wheat has a strong flavor and high protein content.

Hard wheat grain has a higher gluten content, which means it’s ideal for making bread and pasta. This also means it’s not a great option if you’re concerned about gluten.

When picking wheat grains for storage, focus on moisture content for longevity. Once the options have been narrowed down, the choice can be based on the flavor and use. It’s best to have a grain the family wants to eat if stocking up for the long term.

Best places to buy wheat for food storage

Due to its popularity for long-term storage, it is relatively easy to buy wheat for personal storage. Here are some options for purchasing wheat.

  • Local Farms – In rural areas with grain farms, it’s a good idea to buy directly from them. This is the freshest source of wheat, and we’ll be helping support local agriculture. If we can find a family or independently owned farm, then even better. You will most likely need to treat any locally purchased grains for pests.
  • Costco – Retailers that sell bulk products are likely to stock wheat grains. They may even be pre-packaged for long-term storage. However, if the local store doesn’t carry a certain variety, it’s worth speaking to them to see if they can get the product in stock.
  • LDS Home Storage Centers – Large hard white or red wheat containers can be purchased there for long-term storage. They come packed and ready for food storage in #10 cans and have an estimated shelf life of 30 years.
  • Augason Farms – Order online or find retailers selling Augason farm products. They sell large containers of wheat in a variation of sizes which are ready for long-term storage. In addition, they can be purchased in bulk and delivered directly to your home.

When buying grains, there are some key elements to look out for:

  • Make sure wheat is tightly sealed with no damage to the packaging.
  • The expiration date will indicate how long the grain has been at the store; pick the wheat with the most extended expiration or sell-by date.
  • If bulk buying, it’s best to purchase from a busy retailer to ensure bags have not been in the warehouse for long periods.
  • Check the smell of the wheat; if there is a musty smell, then don’t purchase the wheat. Fresh wheat should be without scent or have a slightly sweet aroma.

The best option for purchasing wheat products is usually direct from the farm for the cost-conscious.

If the nearest farm is several hours’ drive away, this cancels out the money you save from buying direct. Costco and LDS home storage centers offer the most affordable prices if this is the case.

Note: you do NOT need to be a member of the LDS church to buy from their food storage centers. Anyone can purchase food storage supplies from the LDS food storage centers.

You can find a local LDS Home Storage Center (or buy online) via this link. I have no monetary affiliation with the LDS food storage centers; however, I buy food storage supplies from them. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

In my order of preference for buying food storage supplies, this is the order I shop.

  1. LDS food storage centers – usually have the best prices.
  2. Costco – usually has great prices and a decent selection.
  3. Local farms – some local farms in my area sell to the public out of specialty stores, and we go there for some harder-to-source grains (usually rye or buckwheat).
  4. Augason Farms – they’re good, but in my experience, they’re also the most expensive choice.

When pressed for time, purchase a readily packed container for food storage. It will be worth any additional cost so that we don’t have to treat grains ourselves.

An image of a male's hands holding wheat on a farm background.

Factors that affect wheat storage

When storing wheat, minimize exposure to light, air, moisture, and potential pests. We need to maintain the quality of our food so we can use it for years to come. Here are more details on those 4 factors that we should be mindful of that will impact our wheat.

  • Light – Storing wheat in a dark area away from direct sunlight is good. If the wheat is in transparent packaging, light can drain the flavor from it. Storing it in a dark room or solid container will prevent damage. This prevents discoloration or loss of nutrients.
  • Air – Remove as much oxygen as possible from the wheat; the presence of oxygen in stored food can lead to deterioration. This can affect the flavor and odor of the wheat.
  • Moisture – As mentioned above, the ideal moisture level for wheat grains is 10% or less. Moisture in wheat can lead to food spoilage and bacteria growth.
  • Insects – If not appropriately sealed, insects can infest wheat and ruin the food. Once in an environment where they can feed, insects will multiply and could even make their way into other stored food products.

It’s essential to be aware of the above factors and consider them when planning wheat storage. To make the most out of this product and its remarkable shelf life, plan on taking all necessary precautions to avoid any surprises that can comprise wheat storage.  

Do You Need to Treat Wheat for Long-Term Storage?

Wheat should be treated for long-term storage to minimize light, air, humidity, and pests. Now that we are aware of the factors which can impact wheat storage, we can address treatments and equipment that can combat these issues:

  • Light – Quickly eliminate this factor by storing the food in an opaque container; this way, no light will pass through to the wheat storage. If all containers are transparent, keep them in the dark, such as in a pantry or basement.
  • Air – To limit the oxygen in wheat storage, use a vacuum sealer. This will extract any air from the package. There are plenty of vacuum sealer-compatible storage containers.
    • The easiest way to control air exposure is the use of food-safe oxygen absorbers. These are easy to purchase online and can be used for many dry food products, including wheat.
  • Moisture – It’s important to avoid moisture in wheat storage; start by choosing a grain with a low moisture point. Ensure the container is completely dry and the storage area is free from dampness. This should be in a dry, cool place.
  • Insects – Since insects can destroy wheat and make their way into other food products, it’s essential the wheat is treated to prevent infestation. Reduction of air is a great way to make food storage uninhabitable for insects.
    • Consider freezing treatments. This can be effective at killing insects. But it’s time-consuming, and there is a risk of increased moisture.
    • Natural products can also be used, such as Diatomaceous Earth – but be sure to research the correct usage and use the food-safe powder.

Using the above treatments, you can take steps to protect wheat and ensure any food is ready for long-term storage.

Best Containers for Storing Wheat

There are many options for storing wheat. They all have different features which can be beneficial depending on the amount of storage space and usage. The best container for storing wheat is always the one that best suits our needs. Here are some good containers to use:

Option #1: #10 Cans (Number 10 cans)

A number-ten can (it’s not a 10-pound can despite the pound sign. I know it’s confusing) is a popular product for wheat storage. They can store large amounts of food – and are stackable. They keep light, moisture, air, and insect out, which is why they are a favorite.

  • If you seal your own #10 cans, the downside is that a can sealer is needed, which can be expensive. However, if storing food long-term in large quantities, then this may be a good investment.
  • If you want #10 cans without sealing it yourself, the LDS food storage centers sell those pre-sealed.

Option #2: Plastic bucket with an air-tight lid 

This product is also stackable, is available in large sizes, and is perfect for long-term storage. Using a rubber seal, seal the bucket using an air-tight lid to prevent damaging factors such as air and moisture.

In addition, air cannot pass through the bucket walls, and insects cannot get in.

Option #3: Mason jars

These jars are a great storage solution for wheat when stored in smaller quantities. The lid of a mason jar will create a tight seal, and you can purchase a vacuum sealer to extract any additional air.

Mason jars are transparent, so they should be kept in a dark storage area such as a pantry or cupboard.

Option #4: Mylar bags

Mylar bags are food-safe resin-based bags. These can be vacuum sealed so the wheat won’t be at risk from damaging factors and retain freshness.

Mylar bags come in a variety of sizes and are lightweight. It’s essential to label mylar bags if packing multiple foods since the material is silver opaque.

Option #5: Mylar-lined containers

Combining food storage containers is a great way to preserve wheat. Using mylar-lined containers will create increased protection from moisture and oxygen, plus the additional barrier of a bucket or other container will keep any rodents out.

Option #6: Vacuum-sealed bags

These bags are a suitable option for short-term food storage and are recommended for 18-month usage. If storing different wheat varieties, they will be easier to identify as they are transparent.

It’s essential to store them in a dark place, ideally in another container that will protect wheat from rodents.

Option #7: Storage bags or containers

It’s possible to purchase wheat already packaged. In this case, the packaging usually outlines its features and should give a good idea of the shelf life. If unsure, consult the chosen store.

An image of wheat grains in a paper or storage bag.

Wheat Food Storage FAQs

Now that we’ve covered most of the basics, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question in the text above or the questions below? Don’t sweat it. Send me an email (use my contact page) and ask me there. I’ll answer you directly and get it added here!

How do you store wheat in bulk?

To store wheat in bulk, it’s best to use large, stackable containers. Food-grade buckets and #10 cans are perfect for this purpose. Wheat can be purchased in bulk and pre-packaged to save time, but this might increase the cost.

If we already have good equipment set up at home and have plenty of experience with food storage, then we should be able to complete the whole process ourselves.

Be sure to label wheat storage containers with the wheat variety and the date it has been packaged.

How long can you store wheat in a bin?

When the proper method has been followed, wheat can be stored for up to 30 years and is still safe and edible.

I’ve eaten wheat from #10 cans that are older than 30 years and it’s been totally fine. But I’d only eat it from people who I know and trusted how they stored it. The “old” wheat I have eaten was stored meticulously by my grandparents, for example.

How is wheat stored after harvesting?

A farmer will often sell wheat straight to the supplier to be processed or packaged. If they keep the wheat on-farm, it will likely be stored in a grain bin. This is a large spherical metal bin.

It’s going to be basically that on most farms, although individual farms all have unique differences.

What is a wheat berry?

Wheatberry refers to the wheat grain. This is wheat in its purest form before it is processed and turned into flour or food.

It’s the kernel of grain, although that’s the wrong term. It’s a wheatberry.

What Are the Best Ways to Use Wheat From Food Storage in Recipes?

Wheat can be used like rice, sprouted, ground, cooked, or as flour. Flour is a staple of baking and can be used to make bread, cakes, pastry, and biscuits. There are endless recipes for sweet and savory bakes.

Want my grandma’s bread recipe? Here you go! Grandma’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread Recipe. It’s my favorite bread recipe of all time.

Now that we have our store of wheat stocked up, we can wonder about usage. The outstanding feature of wheat is its versatility. It has been a staple ingredient for years, which means there is no shortage of baking and cooking recipes.

Once wheat berries have been removed from storage, they can be rinsed and drained to sprout the grain. We can add sprouted wheat berries to meals such as salads or soups.

We can transfer them to the soil to grow wheatgrass for juice, or dehydrate and ground them into flour for sourdough and baking.

Note: you can also cook wheatberries like rice. It’s got a similar non-flavor (it will take on the flavor of whatever spices you add), but it’s got a fun “pop” when you chew it.

Wheat berries can also be cooked and enjoyed as a nutritious meal. They will need to simmer in water for 30-90 minutes to cook the berries. The time depends on the variety of wheat – once ready to eat, they will be tender and can be used in meals in place of rice or beans.

An image of wheat grains in a bowl.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Wheat has been a staple of humankind’s diets for centuries. Therefore, it’s a perfect candidate for long-term storage as it can remain for decades and still be edible.

It’s essential to be clear on the safe storage method for wheat, so our stock remains high-quality and undamaged. Estimate quantities required per person, and consider what equipment and storage solutions are best.

Make sure to rotate all stock and experiment with recipes to continue enjoying a wheat supply for years to come.

And then make sure you check out this article next to keep your food storage moving up to the next level: How to Safely Store Freeze-dried Foods in Mason Jars (vacuum sealer). That way, you can add fresh vegetables, fruits, and whatever else you want to your food storage!

Resources

Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.

  • Storing Whole Grains | The Whole Grains Council. (2020). STORING WHOLE GRAINS. https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/cooking-whole-grains/storing-whole-grains
  • Utah State University. (2021, November 9). Storing Wheat. USU. https://extension.usu.edu/preserve-the-harvest/research/storing-wheat
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About Us

I’m Kimberly Starr. My family has always loved being outside and gardening. Now we are building a backyard homestead and immersing ourselves in this wonderful new lifestyle. We’re learning as we go what works and what doesn’t. This website is where we’re sharing everything we’ve learned.

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