Whole Grain Storage
For those of us who prefer to grind grain at home and make our own flour for baking storage of the whole grain can be a problem. Often we have to buy our grain in bulk, 25# & 50# minimums. That adds up to a fair amount of space in a freezer if one wants to grind several types of flour, ie: hard wheat flour, soft wheat flour, rye flour, kamut, spelt, etc.. How are you going to store it all? I've come up with a reasonably inexpensive solution, less than $80 for me.
I use a 10-gallon barrel that I bought from a source up north (I live in Texas). I've got 3 more on order. What drew my attention to these heavy-duty, compact, plastic barrels were the screw-top lid and the air-tight gasket on the lid. I had looked at the 5-gallon, plastic containers that they use for syrups, etc., but the lids possed a removal problem to my arthritic hands, even with the removal tool. These 10-gallon barrel lids are easy to screw on and off, and the gasket makes both oxygen removal easy and keeps out unwanted critters. Plus, there is one other very important consideration for me. As we live close to the Gulf of Mexico (Houston, Texas area) we have very high humidity. The sealed lid helps to keep the grain dry.
Grain can be either pre-bagged, and the bags put into the barrels, or if one buys a large amount of grain it can be put directly into the barrel. I started using one of these barrels about 3 months ago for other products. I've found it to be great. I did wash it out first with bleach and then soap and water, rinsing well and airing it out for a couple of days although it came clean and odorless to start with. Even if they are new you should wash them because there are mold release agents used in their production. To further enhance the grain storage capabilities I use an oxygen absorbing sac. This is simplicity itself. It comes in little bags that you simply put in the sealed bag, barrel, etc., and the contents react with the available oxygen until the oxygen is depleted. This way grain can last for years. What is the magic material in the oxygen absorbing sacs? Simple, iron filings - very safe and yet very effective. The iron filings rust, using up all of the available oxygen - provided of course that you've used enough of the oxygen depleting sacs, but they go a long way. Of course it's desirable to store the grain at a temperature in the mid-60's to mid-70's.
Here are some links to the items that I use. I bought them on eBay.
10 gallon barrel with twist lid and seal:http://cgi.ebay.com/DRUM-10-...
Oxygen Absorbing Sacshttp://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ih=019&sspagename==>=...
The nice thing about this system is that it is safe, simple and reasonably economical. The 10-gallon plastic barrels cost $10 each + shipping. The oxygen absorbing sacs cost about $20 for a box full (they keep safely in a sealed baggie in the freezer until you need them). If I remember correctly, 45# of wheat grain fill a 6-gallon container. So with 3 or 4 of these barrels one can buy 4-6 different grains in bulk and store them indefinately as one needs them. The alternative is to put them in a freezer. When I looked at the cost of a new freezer and thought of the continuing electrical bills to store the grain I quickly opted for the plastic barrels and the oxygen absorbing sacs.
If anyone has some alternative methods for storing grain, let's hear them.