Thursday, April 3, 2008

And now a word about Wheat Storage

I just wanted to mention something about wheat flour (or cracked wheat) storage. Wheat berries in their whole form can be stored almost indefinitely if it isn't too humid. I have wheat that my parents bought when I was probably 10 (so 30+ years ago) and it's just fine and fresh for baking. (It may not work for sprouting, but I'll talk more about that in another post). I've even read that wheat stored in pyramids for who knows how many years is still found to be good too. So that's not an issue for storage. If you can keep the bugs out and humidity out (as in a 5 gallon bucket with a good lid), you're fine.

Once you break open the wheat berry, however, you need to be more cautious with storage. The protective shell of the wheat berry can no longer do it's protecting, so the nutrients are at risk for deterioration. Yes, you can buy wheat flour and cracked wheat in bulk or a bag at the store, but it won't be as fresh or as nutritious if you've ground it yourself. The reason why is that when it's freshly ground, it has all the nutrients in tact. Besides the possibility of increasing the nutrients by soaking or sprouting (which, once again, I'll explain in more detail on the sprouting post :)), this is the highest the nutrient level will be. If you refrigerate or freeze the flour or cracked wheat right after grinding, the nutrients will remain at that level. If you leave them in container in the cupboard or pantry, the oil content will begin it's rancidity process and the nutrients will lessen (even in as few as a couple of hours).

This doesn't mean that the flour will actually go rancid right away or give you the kind of digestive problems you'd get from eating something with rancid oil. You can probably store wheat flour for up to a year. But the nutritional content will deteriorate gradually. If you're after optimum health and thus optimum nutrients, put it in a ziploc bag or sealed container and stick it in the fridge or freezer. Simple as that!


  1. What do you know about the nutritive value of wheat that won't sprout. I have some 'old' wheat. I can make great bread with it..(I add gluten) however it won't there any nutritive value in the wheat or are we eating sawdust? Thanks...SO much.

  2. I'll look into this some more Arlene. I have a lot of unsproutable wheat too. I use it all the time for baking and haven't had to add any gluten. It acts just the same as my newer wheat in that regard. From what I've read in the past, the wheat berries that are older don't have dormant enzymes waiting to become live food (like old seeds that won't sprout in your garden). But I don't think that means they lack the other nutrients that remain after baking (which would destroy the enzymes anyway from the heat). I'll see if I can find something to back that up though. I'll get back to you. -- Renee

  3. Thank you so much..I have look to find information and have been unsuccessful. I'd appreciate any help. Arlene

  4. Hi again Arlene -- I've searched a bit and found information on how nutrients multiply with sprouting and decrease after breaking down the wheat berry (like for cracked wheat or flour) if you don't refrigerate it or freeze it soon after the break down. But I couldn't find info on if there was a difference between nutrients in older (unable to sprout) wheat and fresh (able to sprout) wheat.

    I wrote an e-mail to Steve Meyerowitz, author of my favorite book on sprouting, "Sproutman's Kitchen Garden." Here's what he wrote in his reply:

    ----Unfortunately, no one has this information so there is no "proof" however, I think you are correct that it just doesn't have the capacity to sprout anymore.