The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Grain Storage

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

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 Sacs

http://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.

Cliff. Johnston

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Or, as I think you call them in the US, garbage can? I bought a smallish one of these some years ago, and buy enough grain to fill it - lasts about a year! No vermin / mites etc can get in, and the grain seems fine for a year. I have no plans for longer term storage though. bread tastes just great!
Andrew

athagan's picture
athagan

Do you have a better link to the ten-gallon cans? I'd like to take a look at them. The link in the original post no longer seems to work.

 My grain is stored in five or six gallon pails, mostly in Mylar bags inside the pails, or in #10 cans. My oldest grain dates from '98 and still makes fine bread.

 There are any number of different storage containers that can be made to work with any of several differing packaging methods. I cover most all of the proven methods in the Prudent Food Storage FAQ for any who are interested. It's free to read or download via the URL in my signature below.

---

The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/Index.html

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Here's their latest posting on eBay: cgi.ebay.com/DRUM-10-GALLON-...

I bag everything too inside these barrels. I buy 50# sacks of grain, and they fill approximately 1/2 a barrel if poured in loose; however, I don't do a loose fill. I put the grain in 1-gallon Ziploc plastic bags instead. I use a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup filled to the top as a scoop (that actually measures 2 cups). It takes 6 of these "scoops" to get an easy-to-work-with fill in one of these bags. One 50# sack of grain results in 9 1-gallon Ziploc bags full. These in turn neatly fit in one of the 10-gallon barrels filling it - 2 layers of 4 bags + 1 on top layed flat. This is a comfortable fit - not cram-jammed.

These barrels are $79 new in small lots. If this link doesn't work, then go to eBay and search "barrel plastic". When the list comes up just look for a white, round barrel with a blue cap beside it.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

athagan's picture
athagan

Ah, very good.

 I've been needing some decent storage in the range between five/six gallon pails and fifty five gallon drums and these may be the thing.  I'm going to order a few.  Thanks for post them.

 .....Alan. 

 The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/Index.html

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

That's a nifty system, Cliff. You asked about other methods, and here's mine. I keep my grain in half-gallon canning jars like this:

http://www.homecanning.com/usa/ALProducts.asp?CAT=480&P=2566

I seal the jars with a FoodSaver similar to this:

http://www.amazon.com/Food-Saver-T000-03301-001-FoodSaver-Advanced/dp/B000AAYD6W/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/103-7264392-3483023?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1172852...

using the canning jar adaptor:

http://www.amazon.com/FoodSaver-T03-0023-01-Wide-Mouth-Sealer/dp/B00005TN7H

This makes an airtight vacuum seal, and I like dealing with small containers that aren't too heavy. For grains and flours that I keep in smaller quantities, I use smaller jars. This setup costs quite a bit at first, but everything is re-usable (including the canning lids and rings), and I've saved a fortune on cheese and nuts that I've also saved with the FoodSaver.

-Mary

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Mary,

Yours looks like an excellent system.  Glad to see you participate.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

ron45's picture
ron45

Hi Cliff, I tried out you links on the barrels and the pages wouldn't come up. Do you know what the barrels are called or the maker? They sound like a great idea especially the o2 reduction bags. BTW Do you know of anyone making grinding stones for flour mills?

Ron

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Ron,

Here's the latest barrel link: 

http://cgi.ebay.com/DRUM-9-5-GALLON-HD-RE-SEALABLE-PLASTIC-BARREL_W0QQitemZ250091175640QQihZ015QQcategoryZ38172QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

If this fails to work, as I mentioned earlier go to eBay do a search for "barrel plastic".  It will come up with about 40 others.  It's easy to spot - white with a blue top on the ground to the left of the barrel.  I don't know who makes it other than it is made in Holland.  It is an excellent grade product.  I spotted it once selling new for $79 each in small quantities.

I'm not aware of a supplier for mill stones.

Cliff.

"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

ron45's picture
ron45

Thank you Cliff. Got it this time.

Ron

Susan's picture
Susan


www.gammaplastics.com
I picked up a large Stackables container at a thrift store and use it for bags of flour, grain, seeds, etc.  
Susan

athagan's picture
athagan

I use one of these in my kitchen.

http://www.spacesavers.com/30qtpetfostc.html

It holds the wheat that is in current use to be milled. It rolls so I can store it under the work table out of the way when not needed and is easy to clean.

.....Alan.

The Prudent Food Storage FAQ

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/Index.html

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Alan,

 Now that sounds really neat.  It beats lifting anytime if one has the space for it.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Noche's picture
Noche

If you don't have a moisture barrier. It will pick up moisture and rot.

Cliff Johnston's picture
Cliff Johnston

Noche,

You've touched on something that many people don't even think about.  For those of us who buy 50# sacks of grain, the bags are not adequate, long-term, storage containers.  They are simply short-term, shipping containers only. As soon as one puts them on concrete, for example, moisture starts to wick from the concrete to the paper sack and then into the grain itself.  It is very important to have adequate storage containers of some type. 

Of course if one uses a sack of grain a week or more then it's not as critical, but for those of us who take a couple of months or more to use a sack of grain, then proper storage is very important.

Glad you mentioned this!

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
 Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Going shopping for containers today because I need to open my bags of grain. That's a great thing because it means I'm pulling out my grain mill for the very first time. I got my grain mill last week, used the very last of my purchased flour and will be milling my own grain from now on. (can't believe I went through 5lbs of rye in one week!!!)


So, what size containers do I need for 25lb bags and 50lb bags of grain? I'm looking at probably going with either rubbermaid containers or the really nice dog food containers from Petsmart/Petco.


I'm used to storing horse grain but the volume of rolled oats and pellets is much different from unprepared grains so I'm having a hard time doing the conversion. Plus, with horse grains I've always just bought 150-200lbs and stuffed it into a large trash can, going through it very quickly. I looked at the containers I thought I would need and goodness, I think I could get about 200lbs of grain in each of them, instead of the planned 50lbs!!


 


Thanks!!

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

I store my grain in 5-gallon buckets with gamma lids, as they are called.  These are screw lids instead of the kind that require a tool to pop off.  Here is the link to where I buy my lids.  I buy my buckets there also.

https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/emergency_supplies/gamma_seal_lid.htm

Now I  have a question, if anyone can tell me.  Does rye require something additional for safe storage as compared to wheat, barley, and oats?  The places where I buy grain have always cautioned specially about proper storage of rye due to the danger of ergot mold growing on it.  Because of that, I have never bought whole rye.  I might try it, if I didn't think it would sprout a poisonous crop of mold right there in the bucket.

sam's picture
sam

Hello,

These are the storage bins I use (with the blue square lids).   They are just big enough for 25# worth of grains.   The lids are not the screw-on/gamma style, they just snap into place, but they are a tight fit.   You have to push down pretty hard to snap them on, and they make a loud "Snap!" noise when sealed.  I store several types of grains in these, some for over 6 months now, and so far haven't had any bugs or mold issues (knock on wood).  I keep my grains stored indoors at a relatively constant room temp ... with the A/C in the summer it doesn't get much higher than 78F.   In my neck of the woods, it doesn't get too humid either.

Google for:  10725-07 Carlisle StorPlus Clear Square Food Storage 18qt

Or here's a link.

http://www.instawares.com/clear-food-storage-container.10725-07.0.7.htm

MangoChutney's picture
MangoChutney

Thanks for that link, there are containers there I am interested in for other purposes.

My house is not air-conditioned.  It is sometimes cooler indoors in the summertime because we keep the windows open all the time, but obviously it will not be below the night-time lows at any time.  The lows for the next four nights here are all in the mid- to high-70s.  The highs are in the high-80s to mid-90s.  Right now it is 82F and 77% humidity, outdoors.  My cooking thermometer that is hanging on the side of a box on the counter in the kitchen says 80F.

sam's picture
sam

I also like these from KA.   Maybe they could be found cheaper elsewhere.  I use the large sized ones for flour (25# capacity), and I also keep a few of the small 5# ones on the kitchen countertop for daily use.   The lids (especially the large container lids), are also quite sturdy, seems to seal very well.  

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/large-flour-bucket

After reading some of the horror stories here with bug infestations and molds, I got paranoid and now keep nearly everything I have that is bread or flour-related in some kind of sealed plastic container.   Even the bannetons/brotforms stay inside of sealed containers until I use them.