Whole grains, such as wheat kernels, sometimes called wheat berries, are among the longest-lasting natural foods. If they're stored in suitably dry and pest-free conditions, at a cool and stable temperature, they can remain tasty and safe to eat for years. Commercial distributors store grain in huge climate-controlled buildings, but that's not an option at home. Often, your freezer is the best place to store wheat berries and other whole grains.
The best storage temperature for wheat is between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but few modern homes have a root cellar or similar reliably cool area. Rather than storing the grain at room temperature and risking spoilage or a pest infestation, package it and freeze it. Freezing doesn't harm the grain as long as it's well packaged, and can help the grain retain its freshness and nutritional value indefinitely. Package the grain into food safe freezer containers, heavy-duty freezer bags or vacuum-sealed bags, then label and date them. Position the grain in the deepest corners of your freezer, where the temperature remains most stable, and remove it in small quantities when you need it.
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Harold McGee
- Utah State University Extension: Food Storage: Wheat
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images