Well, now that we all know how wonderful wheat is, we should be making it a priority to get more of this golden goodness into our homes. But before you just go out and spend your hard earned dollars on a load from the farmer down the road (I wish!), there are a few things you’ll want to consider: the type of wheat; the quality of wheat; and how to store your wheat.
Types of Wheat
There are many different types of wheat. The most common types or categories include: Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Hard White, Durum, Soft Red Winter, and Soft White. Durum is the hardest of all the wheats. It is used for making semolina flour for pasta. The hard wheats are all high in protein (with the Hard Red Spring having the highest percentage) and are best for breads, rolls, tortillas, noodles, and used as an all-purpose type flour. The soft wheats are lower in protein and are better suited for cakes, cookies, pastries, muffins, and snack foods in general. The white wheats are closely related to the red (with the exception of the color genes) and don’t really differ in nutritional value from the red. White wheats have a more mild and sweet flavor, equal fiber, and similar milling and baking properties to their red counterparts.
Based on this information, as well as from personal experience working with different kinds of wheat, I have decided that my go-to wheat is the hard white wheat. I have not tried working with any soft wheat yet, but since I don’t even mind the hard white wheat in my cookies, I could only really see trying the soft wheat for a cake purpose. Maybe I’ll have to give that a go sometime soon. 🙂
Purchasing Quality Wheat
Now, even with the above information, it’s important to note that not all wheat is the same. Who you purchase from and the quality of wheat they produce is an important factor in your investment. When purchasing your wheat, be sure that you are buying wheat that is specifically prepared for human consumption. You can buy wheat a lot cheaper if it is for animals, but this is NOT the wheat you want for your family. Also be sure that your wheat has 10% moisture content or less, and 13% protein or more (it should say this somewhere on the packaging). And finally, you want to make sure that you are not purchasing damaged or broken wheat grains. The broken grains release their Vitamin E oils, which causes the wheat to go rancid. This obviously would not be good for storage purposes. So check your wheat out first, or purchase from a reputable source so that your wheat will be good and stay good for years to come.
Storing Your Wheat
• Store your wheat in a cool, dry location (preferrably under 77º F with no more than 50-60% humidity)
• Store wheat in an air tight, opaque container. You could use mylar bags, buckets, or cans.
• Properly stored wheat will have a shelf life of at least 30 years.
• When storing wheat for long-term use, you will need a way to fight off any weevil infestations. I do not recommend using oxygen absorbers, as these will not only kill the bugs, but there is a chance it can kill your wheat as well. Instead use 1 Tbsp of Diatomaceous Earth per 5-gallon bucket, which is lethal to the bugs but will not kill off your wheat. (Please note that when I say oxygen absorbers can ‘kill’ your wheat, that means that the wheat is no longer ‘living’ and can no longer be sprouted (although some people have still successfully sprouted wheat that was stored with oxygen absorbers). ‘Non-living’ wheat can, however, still be ground into flour and used that way without any issues, although it is slightly less nutritious than its ‘live’ counterparts.) You can find Diatomaceous Earth (DE) online or sometimes locally in feed stores or garden nurseries. Just make sure that whatever you purchase is 100% Diatomaceous Earth. Some that you can find in the stores are about 85% DE with various percents of oxides and fillers. So make sure you read the labels before you buy. You can read more about DE HERE and HERE. And if you can’t find any of the good kind locally (which I can’t), the best places I’ve found online are HERE and HERE. Just be aware that shipping almost always doubles the cost. I just bought 10 lbs for $14, but shipping is another $14. Or you can get 5 lbs for $11 and shipping is another $11. A little expensive, but remember that a little will go a long way and it will last you for a long time. And if you’re wondering what in the world you would do with 10 lbs of DE, you can also use it as pest control around the house, and there are also a lot of benefits to using it yourself. You can read about that HERE.)
Well, I guess that about covers our ‘purchasing and storing wheat’ segment. At some point in the future we’ll go into more fun details about wheat for those who are interested… such as sprouting wheat, making ‘wheat meat’, and other fun topics. Until then, go and get your grains!