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Food Storage Essentials: Why store wheat? What about a grain mill? (+ video)

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Why go to the trouble of storing wheat?

Leslie Probert

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Many think storing wheat is a hassle and bypass it altogether in their food storage. Here are some reasons to reconsider including wheat in food storage.

Wheat has a long shelf life. Wheat is extremely easy to store. It can be left in containers and used when you feel like it because it stores for 30-plus years. Storing it in an oxygen-deprived environment ensures insects in all stages are killed. Remember that wheat cannot be stored in a hot garage or shed, as extreme heat destroys gluten-forming properties essential to bread rising.

Whole wheat is filling. Who wants to be hungry, especially in a time of difficulty? Extra activity and stress can cause an increase in appetite. If meals in an emergency feel a little light or someone needs a snack, whole wheat bread or other whole wheat foods will fill hungry tummies. Many freeze-dried gourmet meals are light in calories and meal plans often provide two entrees a day, leaving families to plan something for lunch. What will they serve — soup all the time? Sandwiches are a great option.

Wheat is healthy. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Doctrine and Covenants, a book regarded as revelation for our day, states in section 89, known as the Word of Wisdom, that wheat is made for man. It also states that meat should be eaten sparingly, a recommendation made by health authorities today. Many experts, including doctors at the Mayo Clinic, recommend eating whole grain foods, which are high in fiber and take longer to digest, for weight loss. Such foods help people to feel full longer. Many of us eat too much meat, which is filling, but cutting back on it can leave people hungry. Adding whole grain foods like whole wheat bread, muffins or biscuits to meals is a healthy way to help people feel satisfied.

Bread is a comfort food. There is just nothing to compare with the amazing smell of homemade bread. It’s fun to make whole wheat bread and other baked foods whenever you feel like it, because there is a store of whole wheat on hand. Think of how comforting these foods will be for family members in a time of hardship.

Wheat is inexpensive. Wheat is a very inexpensive way to expand food storage and have a larger supply of food on hand. It is also space-efficient to store.

What about a grain mill?

Most of us are in a hurry these days, and the fastest way to use whole wheat is to first grind it into flour. But getting a grain mill seems to be the biggest obstacle for people when considering storing wheat.

Good grain mills range from $210 to $270. In my experience, most people can find a way to buy a grain mill if it is a priority. I’ve known people on a budget to hold a yard sale to buy one. Others have asked for money to go toward buying one for birthdays or Christmas. Eating less expensive cooked cereals, toast, homemade muffins or pancakes in place of expensive boxed cereals saves money that can go toward purchasing a wheat grinder.

What to look for

For an electric mill, consider size, where to store it in your kitchen, the noise level and the size of the storage bin that holds flour after it is ground. When I have whole wheat flour on hand, it is easy to use in everyday cooking. In this case, a large bin is an advantage. If I have to get the mill out every time I need whole wheat flour, I will rarely use it.

For a hand mill, consider the coarseness of the flour it makes. Less expensive hand mills generally produce medium-fine flour, which produces heavier, grainy baked foods. A significant amount of extra water may be required in recipes. For light and delicious baked foods like those we are used to, stone burrs are needed to produce fine flour. These make a mill stiffer to operate. One mill provides a double clamp to hold it in place while grinding, which is a big plus. In an emergency without power, I plan to have everyone at my house spend a few minutes each day grinding flour. I like the philosophy of the little Red Hen, who would not let anyone eat her bread unless they helped make it.

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