Storing grain crops 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 grain plants is just a big pain in the butt. They argue that grains like wheat would take a lot of time to process. Most people don’t 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, some preppers insist that some grain plants are worth the trouble of storing. Most grain crops 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 grain crops 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 grain plants 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. 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 is used for baking pastries.
Advantages of Storing Wheat
Many love wheat because it packs a nutritional punch: it contains 327 calories for every 100 grams—a great way to keep your energy up in an emergency. 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 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. It can last as long as 25 years, whereas flour only has around 5-10 years before it goes rancid.
Disadvantages of Storing Wheat
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, invest in electric and hand-crank grinders. That way, you can still grind your wheat, even in a blackout. You can also familiarize yourself with the different ways to prepare wheat on the off chance your grinder stops working altogether. You can cook the wheat berries and make some yummy chili with them. Try also to grow wheatgrass, 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 them. Determine if they fit your diet and preferences.
Next up on grain plants you should consider stockpiling is rice.
It’s 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. We’ll tell you why later on.
Rice comes in many varieties. It can be classified according to the length of its grain, its color, and its fragrance.
- Long-grained white rice is best for long-term storage. White rice can last many years when stored properly in a food-grade bucket.
- Brown rice is more nutritious, but its oil content makes it susceptible to spoilage. It can only last 6 months before it goes rancid.
- Parboiled rice is a special variety that 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 easy to find, but you might want to consider it for your survival stash.
Advantages of Storing Rice
Rice packs a lot of calories, making it an excellent energy source. It’s also cheap and super shelf-stable.
Another reason rice is one of the best grain plants to store is that you can easily prepare it. 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 risotto 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.
In storing rice, ensure it is free from bugs and insects before stowing them away inside your food-grade buckets.
Last on our list of recommended grain plants is corn.
Known as a staple crop around the world, it’s 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 one of the most versatile grain crops—it has many varieties with tons of food options for each.
The types of corn are as follows:
- Dent corn – Named after its characteristic “dented” appearance, this is the most widely grown variety in the US, used primarily for livestock feed, corn syrup, and ethanol.
- Flint corn – This is a hardy crop that can survive really low temperatures. It’s mostly grown in Central and South America.
- Pod corn – This variety of 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. It’s 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 – This is the most common type of corn seen in grocery stores. It 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, it 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 isn’t the best for long-term storage as it’s consumed fresh as a vegetable rather than a grain. Aside from food, you can use corn as animal feed and biofuel.
Storing grain crops can have pros and cons, but you can’t deny that they’re great sources of carbohydrates, essential to keeping your energy up during stressful survival situations. They’re also more shelf-stable than their processed counterparts. On another note, preparing them can be quite taxing.
So which grain plants should you add to your survival stockpile?
Based on these facts, rice wins the top 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 correctly. If you’re just starting out, storing rice should be your best bet.
There are tons more grain crops out there. Which one is your go-to for long-term storage? Let us know in the comments!