Wheat or Flour?

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Long time lurker here. I want to thank all of you for the helpful information on preparation, but more importantly, for the motivation to carry on with my preparation. It would be so easy, due to fatigue, to take a few days off, but I am reminded by all of you, that not much time remains.

i have read on many forums, that wheat is one of the necessities, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why. Isn't wheat used for making bread? Are there other uses? I cannot buy wheat locally, but I can buy bulk flour for $0.30/lb. Couldn't I just buy flour, put it in 5 gallon buckets, add oxygen absorbers, and dessicants, and be ok? Any helf would be appreciated.

PS: The reason that I have been lurking and not participating, is that I know beans about computers, but I fully understand the dire implications of y2k. It drives me nuts to talk to others, who should know better, only to be given the LOOK!

Thanks again, one and all.

-- Mike Roach (Boxman9186@aol.com), December 16, 1998


Once ground into flour, wheat does not last as long as the whole grain. Also, 5-gallon plastic buckets (typically made from HDPE) while good at protecting from rodents and moisture, offer no long term protection against oxygen. The plastic is permeable to oxygen over the long haul and the oxygen absorbers will compound the problem by lowering the pressure inside the bucket, thus 'sucking' in oxygen over the course of storage. Some folks will first place the wheat in mylar, vacuum seal, then place in the buckets - this will give you max shelf life. But much more time consuming and expensive. Still, if you want wheat and want maximum shelf life... You'll also need a hand-operated grain grinder ($70-$500). Because of these things and the fact that we don't do much baking (and want preparations to be as easy as possible), we opted for soybeans and rice (with a wide assorted of other items). We bought a nice pressure cooker which will also make cooking these item energy efficient. BTW, a great resource is the "PRUDENT FOOD STORAGE: Questions & Answers" by Alan T. Hagan. It can be downloaded from:

http://st4.ya hoo.com/lib/glitchproof/fdstr300.zip

Hope this helps.


-- Arnie Rimmer (arnie_rimmer@usa.net), December 16, 1998.

Thanks for the reply, Arnie. If I were to put the flour in a mylar bag, add oxygen absorbers (and dessicants?) and put into a 5 gallon bucket, would the flour last longer? Max shelf life with this procedure? If it would last for a year or two, I should be able to harvest some wheat from the garden. I already have the grinder, don't know what I will do with it. I bought it during my early panic stage.

-- Mike Roach (Boxman9186@aol.com), December 16, 1998.

Another advantage to storing wheat as opposed to flour: whole grain wheat berries ground into flour are more nutritious. I read something in J. T. Stevens book Making the Best of Basics that even ants wouldn't touch the processed white flour. Wheat flour, according to the book, doesn't have a very long shelf life.

Also, can turn the wheat berry into other things like, bulger, etc. So you have variety.

-- Christine Still A. Newbie (vaganti01@aol.com), December 16, 1998.

We don't do a lot of baking here so when we buy a big bag of flour, it's around for a while.

Quite frankly, I think we've had the same bag of flour in the house for a couple of years and it's still good.

Yes, wheat is probably the best way to go, but I'll bet that it is far more practical for most people to buy bags of flour. Odds are that if you bought a few hundred pounds of flour in 20 or 50 pound bags, and put the bags in sealed plastic containers, it would be usable for a couple of years or more.

If things ever got so bad that you had to worry about more than a couple of years, well, it wouldn't make much difference anyway what you had.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), December 16, 1998.


I take some exception to your post. I have never read that the bucket itself is gas permeable. If it is, it is permeable to ALL gasses, not just oxygen. The key is to keep the atmosphere oxygen free for about nine months to kill the bugsters. If you use absorbers, you create a 21% vacuum. IF THE SEAL DOES NOT HOLD, then you get 21% new air in the bucket. This amounts to only about a 4% oxygen content, not the 21% life here demands. If the bucket itself is permeable, then the nitrogen packed buckets will also fail. To my knowledge, this has not been demonstrably true. I have personally eaten bread ground from my grain that was kept in a plastic bucket FIVE YEARS with no treatment at all. I also have buckets that are now about six months old that are still holding their vacuum. IMO, the absorbers are the easiest and quickest way to store and I do not believe nitrogen packing to be in any way significantly superior.



-- Will Huett (willhuett@usa.net), December 16, 1998.


In my early stages of preparation, I told my wife to buy 20 pounds of flour. That ought to do it I thought. When we told our friends that we were buying a years supply of food and this included the 20 pounds of flour (white), they laughed me out of the house.

I have since been fortunate enough to eat food made out of whole grains. Yummy!!!!

Whole wheat makes a hot cereal (I think malt o meal), puffed wheat, flour for rolls etc.

I have discoved that my new grain will make me healthier when I eat it. A big plus. Y2K or not I have been discovering a more wholesome way of life, one that I will not abandon after 2000.

By the way, I have been paying around $28. for 50# of organic whole red wheat. Is This in line anyone? I have heard that you can buy it cheaper but it is probably tainted by chemicals etc.

I recommend that you think about buy wheat, a grinder and a book such as "Making the Best of Basics". THe book gives a lot of wonderful recipies for wheat. I also have heard that white flour is basically worthless as a food source. Remember your diet is largly supplimented by extras which may not be available in the new paradigm. Fresh wheat flour is extremely nutritious but will not last very long at all due to oils or something like that. Happy hunting ww



I have kept a couple of 25 # bags of flower in the house for the past couple of years with no apparent bad effect but it is possible that it does not bake as well as fresh - is a little flat. But, I understand that older food loses its nutritional value. That's hard for me to tell since we have so much other food to eat - may be more of a problem if our diet was more dependent on the flour. I am in process of packing wheat berries in plastic pails with a shot of CO2 to purge the oxygen and include an oxygen absorber for good measure. I believe this will keep for many years.

Rod Beary

-- rod beary (rbeary2327@aol.com), December 16, 1998.

A big issue in warm climates (like southern California) is that the any grain of food value will be buggy if air gets to it during the summer- the moths spread all over and are a bear to get rid of. This doesn't only apply to wheat, by the way. I agree, if you are not bread or pancake eaters, you don't need wheat flour. Arnie, by the way, if you are planning a garden you might want to look into growing a short season soy bean called Black Jet. Soaked, it also cooks soft in about an hour- much faster than commercial soybeans. Johnny's, of Albion, Maine, carries the seeds.

-- Maria (encelia@mailexcite.com), December 16, 1998.

Will: I've seen the the oxygen-permeability of the 5-gallon plastic buckets discussed in a couple of places. The Food Storage FAQ I reference above contains the following statement on the buckets:

Before we can intelligibly discuss plastic packaging it is necessary to understand what the substance we call "plastic" is. Plastics are produced from basic polymers called "resins", each of which have differing physical properties. Additives may be blended in to color them or to modify particular properties such as moldability, structural properties, resistance to light or heat or oxidation. Additionally, it is common for several different kinds of plastic to be laminated together each performing a particular desired task. One might offer structural rigidity and the other might be more impermeable to the transfer of gasses and odors. When bonded together a rigid, gas impermeable package can be made.

Whether that package is safe for food use will depend on the exact nature of the additives blended into the plastic. Some of them, notably plasticizers and dyes, can migrate from the packaging material into the food it's containing. This may be exacerbated by the nature of the food it's in contact with especially if it is high fat, strongly acidic or alcoholic in particular. Time and temperature may also play a prominent role in the migration of plastic additives into food. For this reason, the (US) FDA assesses the safety of packaging materials for food contact and conducts toxicological studies to establish safety standards. Only plastics that are FDA approved for a particular food type should be used for direct contact with that food.

Just being FDA approved, however, may not be all of the story. It must still be determined whether the particular plastic in question has the physical properties that would make it desirable for your purpose.

As mentioned above each base resin has somewhat differing physical properties that may be modified with additives or combined by laminating with another plastic or even completely unrelated materials such as metal foils. An example of this is "Mylar", a type of polyester film. By itself, it has moderate barrier resistance to moisture and oxygen. When laminated together with aluminum foil it has very high resistance and makes an excellent material for creating long term food storage packaging. One or more other kinds of plastic with low melting points and good flow characteristics are typically bonded on the opposite side of the foil to act as a sealant ply so that the aluminized Mylar can be fashioned into bags or sealed across container openings. The combined materials have properties that make them useful for long term storage that each separately do not have.

Probably the most common plastic that raises suitability questions is High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE). It's used in a wide array of packaging and is the material that most plastic five and six gallon buckets are made of. It has a moderate rigidity, a good resistance to fats, oils, moisture and impacts, a fair resistance to acids, but is a poor barrier to oxygen.

Whether it is suitable for your purpose depends on how sensitive to oxygen exposure your product is and how long you need it to stay in optimal condition. Foods such as whole grains are not particularly delicate in nature and will easily keep for years in nothing more than a tightly sealed HDPE bucket. Most legumes are the same way, but those that have high fat contents such as peanuts and soybeans are more sensitive to O2. Other foods such as dry milk powder might only go a year before deleterious changes are noticed. If that milk were sealed in an air-tight aluminized Mylar bag with the oxygen inside removed, the milk would probably go for two years or more. Better still would be to seal the milk in a metal can or glass jar. HDPE can still be used for long term storage, but with one or more of the following precautions to keep a high food quality: The food should either be put on a shorter rotation cycle than packaging also using a second gas barrier such as Mylar; be periodically opened and re-purged or fresh absorbers should be inserted.

Some special plastics and plastic laminates have excellent oxygen and moisture barrier properties and are eminently suited to long term storage, but for home use they are not easy to find, though some used containers might be available for reuse..

I'll try to dig up some of the other source for this information that I've run across


-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), December 16, 1998.

Grain (wheat, rye, oats, amaranth, quinoa) stores well as whole grain (see tips above). Grinding it into flour multiplies its surface area enormously, and the oxidation (and destruction) of its vitamins and other nutrients proceeds much more quickly. Definitely store whole grain rather than flour. You need a grinder of course.

Lehman's carries a variety of grinders. Their catalog is fantastic.

The Millennium Mill runs about $270. Check it out. Delivery is about 2 weeks. I got one and it's a beaut.

This outfit sells food grade buckets w/lids and seals in 6, 5, and 2 gallon sizes, at the best prices I've seen around. Other stuff too, of course.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 16, 1998.

Tom, Does the Millenium Mill grind corn and amaranth, or are they to large and/or hard for it to handle? I have been looking at another mill, but would prefer stone-grinding if it can handle the variety of stuff we eat. Would greatly appreciate information before I finalize that order. Thanks! Maria

-- Maria (encelia@mailexcite.com), December 17, 1998.

let me guess, you are the plastic tube. I hope clowns like you get to live the chinese curse of having to live in interesting times. BTW what you need is a 230 grain lead cough drop. Die of boils clown, I curse you.

What a waste of meat

-- nine (nine_fingers@hotmail.com), December 17, 1998.


Good info, thanks, I'll look forward to more. I will closely observe my milk storage, because I did it the same way. Currently the buckets are holding vacuum so all is well. I dated each container and first chance I will look and see when they were packed and post to the group.

I am still unconvinced that this is a serious problem. The O2 absorbers create a nitrogen packed atmosphere, albeit with a vacuum. The gas exchange mentioned must be quite slow or the vacuum would have been lost already and it has not.

I do not know how many of the folks on this forum have actually stored much in terms of QUANTITY, but I can tell you that the labor involved is enormous! For me, it is far easier to pour into bags, toss in the absorbers and slam the lid than any other method. Especially double bagging and sealing the mylar. Put two tons of wheat into buckets in a day and see how much extra effort you have left at the end. If I have to pop the lid every six months on the milk and toss in a couple more, hey, that's ok. They are cheaper than the mylar and a hell of a lot easier. Gives me more time to tend to other preperations.

I believe bugs to be a more serious problem in dry storage than oxidation. It happens faster with more immediately devastating consequences.



-- Will Huett (willhuett@usa.net), December 17, 1998.

You can also sprout the wheat, which increases the vitamins and nutricion value immensely; and you can plant the grains and grow more wheat. This could be a very good idea if Y2K disrupts society for years. Think about that ... a new Dark Age ... it is easily possible.

-- David Harvey (vk2dmh@hotmail.com), December 17, 1998.

I hesitate to join in here because I am way behind the curve on this subject. What I don't understand is Western society's infatuation with grains. They're energy intensive to grow, difficult and expensive to store and energy inefficient to prepare for consumption.

Bread may be a good method of packaging and transporting nutrition, but I'm not convinced that it is the most efficient. I wonder if bread could be dried and stored effectively. How nutritional are dehydrated potatoes or other foodstuffs? As far as post Y2K gardening, could your limited plot of ground be more effectively used than for growing grain crops? I remain to be enlightened.


"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered." - No. 6

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 17, 1998.

Will: You are quite corect about the large amount of time involve.

I think we all need to keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to achieve maximum storage life in every thing you store. While it is true that properly stored (nitogren packed, absolutely airtight, keep cool) a bucket of wheat can last for 10 years or more, many less dramatic ways or storing can suffice for a shorter (1-2 year period).

Your basic enemies are bugs, mold, bacteria, heat, moisture and rodents. Even the 5 gallon plastic buckets can be penetrated by mice if they are give sufficient unrestricted access to the storage area.


-- Arnie Rimmer (arnie_rimmer@usa.net), December 17, 1998.

Maria -- I checked this with Stortite before I ordered. They told me it can grind corn. The Millennium Mill has two 5" dia. stones, one fixed, the other adjustable. The stones are fully dressed.

The design was what drew my interest. The frame is made of wood and all connectors are standard bolts and screws. So any repairs if needed later would be fairly simple with hand tools. No castings are used. The flywheel is a steel stamping, with the rim notched to take a V-belt so it could be driven from a bicycle rig. The base is drilled so it can be bolted down for that setup. Grinding by hand that's unnecessary. The crank is adjustable to 3 positions for different leverages.

Another thing was the delivery time. Only took 2 weeks. Some of the other mills I looked at were backordering 3 to 6 months. Each time I've talked with the people there they've been very responsive and helpful.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 17, 1998.

Hallyx -- "What I don't understand is Western society's infatuation with grains. They're energy intensive to grow, difficult and expensive to store and energy inefficient to prepare for consumption."

What alternative foods do you propose?

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 17, 1998.

Well, Tom, as I said at the beginning of my post, I'm really not up on all the elements of this discussion. One way to approach an answer is to ask what people ate before the advent of sedentary agriculture. Another is to sit in on a converstion among advocates of "Permaculture." From what little exposure I've had to the devotees of Bill Mollison, I infer that wheat and grains are not most efficient ways to use our precious topsoil. Perhaps someone more familiar with the practice could more cogently comment.


"Spare no expense to make everything as economical as possible." --- Samuel Goldwyn

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 17, 1998.

Most civilizations have grown some kind of grain- or pseudo-grain crop, be it wheat, rye, barley, rice, millet, quinoa or amaranth. While legumes (the other most common staple) are very healthy, they do not provide all the amino acids your body needs to build protein. If yoyou are not just storing food for a limited time period before 'everything reverts to normal', but feeding yourself and your family for the long-term, you need the balance. Grain is also relatively easily stored for long periods of time, versatile and much less time-consuming to raise than most fruits and vegetables. The societies that did not grow grain were those who lived in a climate that made it impossible: semi-desert or frozen tundra. Tom, thank-you for the information. Wish we knew how to rebuild the excellent electric mill (stone) we already have into something more easily hand or bicycle-powered. The motor is under the stones, the grain enters above them. Anybody mechanical out there have any ideas? Our eldest son loves this sort of stuff, but doesn't really know what kinds of parts are available/ to be found where.

-- Maria (encelia@mailexcite.com), December 17, 1998.

My answer to original question: Noodles. (I know, I know - good for only a couple of weeks. )

About the "motor".

Seem like you should be able to do a couple of things. (Wish I could get a photo or sketch - its hard making good recommendation from guesses. Here goes anyway.)

First, try to take it apart. You should look for a way to either replace the current motor with one that has two "end shafts," if there is room, or room below the current frame can be made by mounting the mill higher by attaching its current frame to a 2x4 bracket or frame or counter. Or remove the motor entirely and replace with one that has a shaft at both ends. If you have power, use the electricity for as long as it is available. If you don't, run a belt to the pulley on the "opposite end" of the motor, and turn both the motor and mill.

Or assume you don't have room on the "opposite side" of the current motor for a shaft - you can attach a pulley to any shaft that sticks out about 1" to 2" from the end of the current mill shaft. (I'm assuming here the mill shaft can be separated from the motor shaft with a coupling.)

Go to your hardware store (motor and or mill in hand) and get a pulley to fit the shaft. Tell the manager or knowledge clerk what you want to do - get his comments. Don't just rely on a junior "sales clerk" - make sure your talking to somebody knowledgeable.

The problem now reduces itself to being able to turn the pulley with a belt attached to ????. By the way, if the belt is long enough, you can twist the belt 90 degrees with no problem. The driving puuley doesn't have to line up on the same axis as the driven pulley.

Without knowing more, can't say much else.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), December 17, 1998.

Hallyx -- "...what people ate before the advent of sedentary agriculture"

Well. From what I've read, they ate any animal, bird, fish, snake, frog, turtle, lizard, or insect they could get their hands on, plus fruits, nuts, roots, mushrooms, leaves and berries. Different groups ate different things, depending on what was available where they lived, and on their customs. A LOT of specialized knowledge was involved: how to catch it or find it; distinguishing what is fit to eat from what isn't, and how to prepare whatever you did eat.

For instance. Some roots have to be boiled several times to extract toxins. Castor beans will kill you quickly no matter how you fix them; other beans need several soaks to extract toxic agents. Polar bear liver is so loaded with Vitamin A that a meal of it will kill a human. Eat the wrong berry or mushroom and you die. Most of this information is lost. Developing that database all over again would be a trial and error proposition.

The simple fact is that there aren't enough of any of these things around anymore to feed even half our current population. Growing grains, vegetables, and fruit is the only viable option for a stationary population.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 17, 1998.

Question for Will (or anyone else, really) -

I am having difficulty finding info on powdered milk and storage, etc. I have read somewhre - maybe on this forum - that only certain kinds of powdered milk will last in long term storage. What kind is this? From my vague rememberence, it is not the kind my grocery store sells. Or is it? Where can I find it if its not? Thank in advance.

-- Christine A. Newbie (vaganti01@aol.com), December 17, 1998.

I know, Tom. It's so sad. We've become aliens on our own planet.

(Who said that first around here? Was it RC or p or ...one of you guys? I'd like to attribute it correctly.)

I knew I should have stayed off this thread. Now I'm all depressed.


"If you don't learn anything from your mistakes, what's the sense in making them?"

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 18, 1998.

Christine, I think you will find an answer to your milk question and much more at this website. http://http.lis.ab.ca/walton/grain/faqs/default.htm "The Food Storage Faqs from misc. survivalism" This site is full of valuable info. I printed out all of it, and have it in my 3 ring binder. Hope this helps.

-- Suzanne (Suzanne-L@webtv.net), December 18, 1998.

Oops on the url...got an extra http... (butterthumbs) Http://www.lis.ab.ca/walton/grain/faqs/default.htm Sorry, I don't know how to make a hotlink.

-- Suzanne (Suzanne-L@webtv.net), December 18, 1998.

White flour, like white sugar, is worse than low-nutrient, it is actually an ANTI-NUTRIENT!!! i.e. Your body needs various vitamins and minerals to process the stuff, which are depleted from your body's stores and the rest of your meal. The processing strips the flour of these nutrients, which would otherwise be along for the ride. So go for grain, I say.

-- humptydumpty (no.6@thevillage.com), December 18, 1998.

Robert, Thank-you- will do! In fact, it sounds like just the sort of expedition the son and his engineer uncle would love. I'll get back when I know what happens.

-- Maria (encelia@mailexcite.com), December 18, 1998.

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