The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What is the shelf life for wheat berries

UnConundrum's picture

What is the shelf life for wheat berries

I plan on tackling grinding my own flour next year and was wondering what the shelf life is for the unground wheat berries?  I assume cool dry location.  How would you store them for longest life?  Do they need to breathe or is plastic best?

Nickisafoodie's picture

I have stored grains for several years and counting: the key is proper storage.  After all, they were able to sprout kamut and wheat found in the Egyptian tombs!

I buy 50lb sacks of whole wheat and rye, and store seperately in food grade buckets with snap top lids (which also have a 2" round opening with a threaded lid that makes it easy to open, pour out some, and reseal without taking off the whole top).  These can be found on the web for $10 or so each, and can hold 25 pounds.  Make sure they are food grade, and not the white buckets you see at home depot - the resins are different and you must get this part right. 

Go to a craft store and for about $8 you can buy 1lb of silica gel- "Flower Drying Art" brand is at Michaels which will last you and all of your friends several lifetimes.   This is the same "little bag" of stuff you see in a vitamin bottles to keep the product dry.  I make the equivalent of a tea bag using a drip coffee filter and put about 2 tbs of the silica inside and tape ends shut.  This will help absorb mosture.  Place this in a small brown paper bag, like a grade school lunch bag, fold over and staple so the finished bag is 2" by the width of the lunch bag, about 4".  Place on top of grain before sealing the buckets.  Store in basement where it is cool and away from furnace. Open the 2" screw top and use as needed.  I also put several bay leaves inside the lunch bag as the oils repel insects.  Not sure this is needed as the grain should be sterile, but after going thru all of this, I decided to add and not look back.  Once the lids snap on, do not plan on taking them off - they will break, so get the lids that have the 2" screwtop, which can be used when refilling or when pouring out what you need...  One cup of grain yields about 2 cups of flour, use a scale when baking...

I bake 5 loaves at a time every few weeks, am about half way thru all of my grains after 18 mos and the grain looks and tastes the same as day one; I have no doubt I could go several more years and more this way.  You will not have regrets: home ground flour knocks it out or the park every time and is far superior to KA or any other store bought flour.  Make sure you get hard wheat which has the higher gluten content, not soft wheat.  Grind the night before baking.  You do not have to age the flour as some believe, just grind and go!  I've had my Whisper Mill for 15 years and she is still rocking!  Learn the stretch and fold technique which works well on whole grain recipies as on white.   Good Luck!

flourgirl51's picture

Wheat will store indefinitely if kept in a cool dry location. I will be updating my website in January to include Gamma seals that fit on five and six gallon pails. They keep out air and moisture.

pixielou55's picture


I have been collecting 5-6 gallon food grade buckets to store food. I found at Whole Foods in the dept where they make pizzas, they use 5-gallon buckets. I'm getting 2-3 per week from my food co-op. Try bakeries or stores that make their own baked goods.