The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pantry Disaster-need some suggestions

clazar123's picture

Pantry Disaster-need some suggestions

Good thing I went looking for a tablecloth!I was unburying the bottom shelf in my pantry (it's a small closet) and realized that the floor was all wet. I had a gallon jug of water that had apparently developed a leak in it's flimsy plastic container.No worries, all my wheat is in plastic buckets......I thought.

Well, turns out one 25 pound bag was still in its original heavy brown paper sack inside a plastic bag that was apparently NOT waterproof. Oh,No! When I looked at the bottom of the bag,it looked soaked. I thought the leak had just occurred and proceeded to open the grain bag and I was going to pour it into another container before it soaked thru. However, I wasn't able to do that since the bottom 1/4 of the bag was interwoven with all the sprouts and roots!!! It must have happened about 1 week ago. Some of the sprouts are about 4 inches long. I was able to carefully remove what seemed to be dry grain and I am in the process of going thru it by hand and removing any sprouts,grains with moldy tips or clumps.It's remarkably clean.I estimate I lost about 5 pounds from the bottom of the bag and the rest seems ok. I've gone thru about 10 lbs by hand and now have lots of sympathy for people that harvest and sort by hand.

Is there anything I should do with the grain that seems good? I have it in a separate plastic container and plan on using it first but that amount will take a few months as I don't use white whole wheat very much. Should I store it in a cloth bag for a while to allow for evaporation?The grains seem dry but should I perhaps put it in a low oven to make sure? That will not be an easy task as the lowest my oven can hold is 200F. I think that may be too hot.  A blow dryer? Any natural dessicant I can add?


yozzause's picture

Hi Clazar123

What a buggar, not sure where you live, your profile does not say but if it were me here in Australia i would spread it out and give it some sunshine, solarize it and then bag it up into smaller batches for use

regards yozza 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

thinly onto sheets and let air dry everywhere on any flat surface.  Sheets make it easy to pick up fast when the space is needed.  The sprouts I would dry also.  Set up fans to keep the air moving to dry faster.  Raising the room temp will also help dry the grain. If you can put the grain into direct sunshine, even better.  Sprouts will turn green in the sun so keep them shaded.

When the sprouts are dry, grind them as needed and you've got some malt to add to your normal flour.  Flour Girl might have some tips for you.

Store liquids on the bottom shelves, lower shelves being grate like and 3" off the ground.  I like to keep my floors free so I can vacuum/mop quickly.

gary.turner's picture

It would probably be a Good Thing to make sure to remove any extra moisture the grain may have absorbed.

20# of grain won't take up a huge area when spread, so spread a sheet in some space free of pets and rug-rats. Distribute the grain as thinly as the area will allow. Twice a day (or  more often), stir the grain around. Use fans to blow across the grain. Take care not to blow everything up against the wall. :)

To check the moisture, carefully measure a volume of grain, say four cups, and tie it loosely in a cheesecloth. Weigh the bag of grain, and from time to time, reweigh it. As it loses moisture, it will lose weight. It will  also lose volume as the water-weight swelling is reduced. If much moisture was absorbed, it will lose it quickly at first, then slow down. Once the rate of loss is at or near nil, you've done it. Even without heat, a slightly moistened grain as you describe should dry within a few days; maybe less.

The reason for the measured amount is to provide a sanity check. The dried grain should take  less volume than when it was wet.

//edit: Hurumph! While I considered my answer, washed my dough tub and got coffee, everyone chimed in with essentially the same answer.  I didn't suggest an outdoor solution as in my neighborhood the birds would ravage any grain but flax (!?) in about an hour.  --g

good luck


clazar123's picture

I just finished going thru the "dry" grain and I think I caught it before it was too much of a disaster. I found remarkably few moldy grains and they may have been moldy from the start.I was worried that some of the really wet,moldy grains would spoil the rest and there were a few of those intermingled with the dry grain so I'm glad I did that. I'm going to weigh whats left and see how much I lost.

I might have some harvestable sprouts-I'm going to look at those a little more carefully.Malt?That might be useful! I wish sunshine was possible but the sun is just going down here in the midwest of the USA and it is about 45 F. The humidity is pretty low so I will prob do the overnight drying on cookie sheets/cake pans and any other flat thing I can use and then a cloth bag for a week.I think I might get out a pillow case to put the grain in. It feels dry but I'm concerned about low level moisture.

That pantry was arranged (at one time) so everything was on the shelves but over time, things got piled up on the floor-like the big buckets I have my grains in and a brown bag full of...bags so those are the only 2 things affected. I remember that I ran out of buckets and had that bag in plastic until I got bucket room.

I'd rather have this than either a bug infestation or rope fungus.I think those are much worse disasters.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sorry, I don't want to burst your bubble but I would be careful with the grain to keep it separate until you've ruled rope out.  You could add some fresh clean sprouts into a small loaf now and see what happens.  If rope does show up after 4-5 days, you may have to dump the whole bag.  Meanwhile wash the cookie sheets and pans well in soap and very hot water when the grain drying is finished.  Park them clean into the oven and give them a good high baking, to stay on the safe side.

clazar123's picture

I am keeping the grain separate. I think it is as dry as I can get it right now and it is in a big pillowcase which I keep "massaging" I think it is dry but I haven't weighed it-I don't have a scale that big-I don't own a bathroom scale-just a small kitchen scale.

Again-I think I got darn lucky to have found it when I did and I tried to be very careful separating it.Another bread baking adventure!