Storing grains for long-term survival has always been a source of debate among the prepping community. Some say that in a survival situation where the power grids are down, storing grains is just a big pain in the butt. They argue that grains like wheat would take a lot of time to process. Most people do not even know how to make bread from scratch, let alone have access to a working oven, or proper ingredients. It’s counterproductive, they say.
On the other hand, there are some preppers who insist that some grains are worth the trouble of storing. Most grains can be stored indefinitely. Some of them are ready-to-cook. And the winning reason: all of them are dirt cheap and are great sources of calories.
So, should you store grains for survival? Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common grains out there and see if any of them deserve a spot in your survival stockpile.
First on the list is one of the most common grains in America: wheat. Wheat is the main component of many familiar foods like bread, rolls, porridge, and pastries. The kernels or berries can also be cooked without being milled.
Many love wheat because it packs a nutritional punch: it contains 327 calories in every 100 grams— a great way to keep your energies up in an emergency situation. It also has high protein, dietary fiber and manganese content which are essential in keeping your muscular and digestive systems in tip-top shape.
Many companies would even go as far as to claim that wheat can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Technically it can do these IF you combine it with a balanced diet and some exercise. But what really sells wheat to preppers is its shelf life. Wheat can last for as long as 25 years, whereas flour only has around 5-10 years before it goes rancid.
Wheat comes in two general varieties:
- Hard Wheat – has hard red and hard white varieties. Hard white wheat is most commonly used for rolls, bread, and pasta
- Soft Wheat – used for baking pastries
Now for the bitter truth: storing wheat has some significant downsides. First, it takes a lot of effort to prepare wheat for cooking. If you plan on making bread from it, you gotta have access to a grinder, some leavening and an oven. And in a survival situation, those things can be pretty hard to find.
If you’re still keen on storing wheat despite this, make sure to invest in both electric and hand-crank grinders. That way you can still grind your wheat, even in a blackout. You can also familiarize yourself in different the ways to prepare wheat, in the off chance that your grinder stops working altogether. You can cook the wheat berries and make some yummy chili with it. You can also try growing wheat grass which has many nutritional benefits.
Second, wheat contains significant amounts of gluten. If you or your family members suffer from gluten sensitivity, it might not be wise to keep it. Lastly, many preppers make the mistake of storing sacks of wheat but don’t know how to bake bread from scratch. You can easily avoid this by starting small. Test out a few wheat varieties in your daily meals and see what you can do with it. Determine if it fits your diet and preference.
Rice is the most important grain for human consumption— about half of the world’s population consumes it. And unlike wheat, rice is a crowd favorite among preppers. This is because rice packs a lot of calories, making it an excellent energy source. It’s also cheap and is very shelf-stable. Rice comes in many varieties. They can be classified according to the length of their grain, their color, and fragrance.
Long-grained white rice is best for long-term storage. White rice, when stored properly in a food-grade bucket, can last for many years. The same can’t be said for brown rice. Although more nutritious, the oil content in brown rice makes it susceptible to spoilage. Brown rice can only last for 6 months before it goes rancid.
A variety called parboiled rice bridges the gap between white and brown rice. It has all the nutrients of brown rice plus the shelf-stability of white rice. It’s not that easy to find, but you might want to consider it for your survival stash.
In storing rice, make sure that it is free from bugs and insects before stowing them away inside your food grade buckets.
Another reason to store rice is that it can be easily prepared. You will still need fuel to prepare it but unlike wheat, you don’t need to grind it. The rice that you can buy from stores only needs to be cooked, and that’s it. Plus, there are many ways you can prepare rice. You can mix it up with some trusty beans or meat. You can make risottos, or use it as a substitute for potatoes. Rice also has non-food purposes. Put some rice in a sock and pop it in the microwave for a DIY hand warmer.
Corn is known as a staple crop all over the world. It is grown not only for human consumption but for other purposes as well. Many preppers want to store corn because of its considerable protein and carb content. It’s also pretty versatile— it has many varieties and there are a lot of food options for each. The types of corn are as follows:
- Dent corn -named after its characteristic “dented” appearance, dent corn is the most widely grown variety in the US, used primarily for livestock feed, corn syrup, and ethanol.
- Flint corn – a hardy crop that can survive really low temperatures. Flint corn is mostly grown in Central and South America.
- Pod corn – according to ThinkBioEnergy, pod corn is more ornamental than its aforementioned cousins, due to the uniquely elongated kernels and varied color patterns.
- Popcorn – a type of flint corn with a hard exterior shell. Mostly grown for human consumption.
- Flour corn – easy to grind because of its soft kernels, flour corn is used in many baked goods but shouldn’t be confused with cornmeal.
- Sweet corn – the most common type of corn seen in grocery stores. Contains a lot of sugar and starch.
Dent corn is usually ideal for long-term storage. When dehydrated and stored properly in mylar bags or food-grade buckets, dent corn can be stored for as long as 30 years. You can store some flint corn as well. You can grind it to make some cornmeal which you can turn into some great cornbread. You can also make some corn grits and tortillas.
Sweet corn is not usually good for long-term storage as it is consumed fresh as a vegetable rather than a grain. Aside from food, you can also use corn as animal feed and biofuel.
Which One Should You Store?
Storing grains can have its pros and cons. On one hand, they are all good sources of carbohydrates that are essential in keeping your energies up in a stressful survival situation. They are also more shelf-stable than their processed counterparts. On another note, preparing them can be quite taxing. So which grain deserves a spot in your survival stockpile?
Based on these facts, rice wins that spot. Unlike wheat or corn, you don’t need any additional steps like grinding to prepare it. It goes well with other survival food in your pantry and can last indefinitely when stored the right way. If you’re just starting out, storing rice should be your best bet.
There are tons more grains out there. Which one is your go-to grain for long-term storage? Is it rice or something less common? Let us know in the comments below!