When I first got into prepping, I decided I needed to store wheat. So I ordered a bulk package of wheat berries for storing and an expensive non-powered wheat grinder. And then I wondered, how do I use wheat in an emergency anyway?
In an emergency, wheat berries can be cooked and used in place of grains, rice, or hot cereal. You can put them on salad, in soups, or casseroles. They are highly nutritious and have vitamins, protein, fiber, and calories. In addition, many non-food uses for wheat could help you survive an emergency, such as bedding, heating, and in the garden.
This article will talk about some creative ways you can use wheat to survive in an emergency. You can use wheat as a food source, a fuel source, shelter for people and animals, and help grow food. But before we get into how to cook wheat, let’s talk about why we should use wheat for prepping and emergencies.
Why Use Wheat for Prepping and Emergencies?
Wheat gets a bad rap for its associations with gluten intolerance, obesity, and other health issues. But despite this, it does have redeeming value, especially for prepping and emergencies.
There are several reasons you may want to store wheat for an emergency. For example, wheat is nutritious. It is typically 13 to 20% protein and has more calories than rice. Second, wheat is high in gluten, making it good for breadmaking. Third, wheat berries store well and can last for over 30 years when stored correctly. And lastly, wheat is relatively inexpensive and easy to find, making it worth storing.
You can grow your own wheat or purchase it from a farmer. Once the edible part of wheat is removed, you also have straw, which has lots of homestead and emergency uses. There are plenty of ways to use wheat – and wheat berries – creatively to live off of in an emergency.
What Are Wheat Berries ?
Wheat grows in kernels on long stalks. A wheat berry is the edible part of the wheat kernel. So if you were to pick a stalk of wheat and shake it, the part that falls out is the edible wheatberry. The wheat berry is tough, chewy, nutritious, and can be used in place of other grains. It has a nutty flavor and is high in fiber, too. However, wheat berries need to be processed before you can eat them. They can be ground, boiled, or sprouted.
Different Kinds of Wheat Berries
There are six types of wheat berries:
- Hard Red Winter Wheat is used for whole grain and sourdough breads.
- Soft Red Winter Wheat has a softer texture for cookies, crackers, and cakes.
- Hard Red Spring Wheat has a high gluten content, making it good for pizza dough and bread.
- Hard White Wheat is usually used for tortillas and some noodles.
- Soft White Wheat is typically used for yeast bread, cakes, and snack foods.
- Durum Wheat is often used to make pastas.
Both soft and hard wheat berries can be stored long term. However, hard wheat is better for making breads, while softer wheat is better for flatbreads and cakes. Hard white wheat has a sweeter flavor, while hard red wheat can be more bitter. You may want to store a variety of wheat, so you have it for different purposes.
Ground Wheat Berries for Baking in Emergencies
If you want to bake bread, pastries, or muffins, you’ll need to grind your wheat berries into flour. Keep in mind that ground flour can go rancid quickly, so you should really only grind as much as you need when using it. Otherwise, it will keep in the fridge for 4 to 7 days.
The amount of flour you get from ground wheat berries will vary slightly, depending on your grain mill and how finely you grind it. But as a rule of thumb, you can roughly expect 1 cup of wheat berries to produce a little bit less than 2 cups of flour.
Allow the flour to settle for about half an hour before using it because the grinding process mixes in air. Substitute 1 ¼ cup of fresh ground flour for every 1 cup of white flour that your recipe calls for. of Once you have wheat flour, you can use it to make a number of different food items:
Remember that ground whole wheat bakes slightly differently than storebought white flour, so you may need to adjust your recipe. A Good Life Farm gives you lots of tips and tricks on baking with fresh ground flour here.
What’s excellent about baking your bread is that you can creatively use leftovers in your breadmaking. For example, you can add a handful of raisins, chopped apples, shredded vegetables, or nuts to your bread. This is a great way to use small leftover bits of food to make it stretch further and taste better.
If you don’t have a wheat grinder, there are still plenty of delicious ways you can use wheat to survive.
Boiled Wheat Berries to Eat in Emergencies
One of the easiest ways to eat wheat berries is to boil them. Just cook 1 cup of wheat berries in 3 cups of water and boil it until it’s soft and chewy. Alternatively, you can put a cup of wheat berries into a thermos with boiling water overnight, and in the morning, you’ll have a hot breakfast cereal.
Once your wheat berries are cooked, you can use them in several ways:
- In place of rice or other grains. If you usually make chicken and rice, or quinoa, you can easily replace these with a serving of boiled wheat berries. They have a chewy, nutty texture that is filling.
- In soup. Instead of adding noodles or rice to soup, you can mix in some boiled wheat berries to make the soup stretch further and give you more calories.
- In a casserole. Bulk up a casserole by adding in some boiled wheat berries. They’ll take on the flavor of whatever else is in the casserole while adding texture and calories to your meal.
- As a breakfast cereal, if you are out of oatmeal, boil some wheat berries (or soak them in boiling water overnight). Then, add whatever fixings you would typically add to your oatmeal, such as fruits, nuts, or maple syrup, for a delicious and filling hot breakfast.
- On salad. Add a little chewy crunch to your salad by sprinkling it with some cooked wheatberries.
Sprouted Wheat Berries to Eat in Emergencies
Another way to use wheat berries for food is to sprout them. Sprouted wheat berries are a powerhouse of nutrition. Sprouting is easy, and sprouts can be used on salads, sandwiches, in soups, etc. Sprouting wheat berries is easy and gives you another means of adding nutrition to your diet, especially in winter and when you can’t garden.
How to Sprout Wheat Berries
- Rinse about a half cup of wheat berries to remove dirt and debris.
- Place them in a quart-size sprouting jar or container.
- Fill the jar with water and cover it with a mesh or sprouting lid. Allow it to soak overnight.
- Drain the water and invert the jar so that the water continues to drain.
- Leave for 8 to 12 hours.
- Rinse and drain again.
- Continue to rinse and drain your jar two or three times a day for two to three days until the berries begin to sprout. Then you’re ready to eat them!
Another way to use wheat berries is to grow wheatgrass. You can grow wheatgrass like any other microgreen. Soak your wheat berries overnight, then plant them in a shallow dish of organic potting soil. Keep the seeds moist and place them in a sunny window. In about a week, you can harvest your wheatgrass. Only harvest about 2/3 of the plant to allow it to regrow.
You can juice your wheatgrass, put it in smoothies, or even chop it up and eat it on salads.
Because wheat berries are an excellent source of protein, they can be eaten when meat is scarce. They also have plenty of vitamins and minerals, so as long as you have access to water for cooking them, wheat berries can go a long way toward building up your diet.
Non-Food Uses for Wheat Straw for Emergency Survival
If you are growing your own wheat, you’ll have lots of straw left over from the harvest, which you can use for a number of survival and homestead purposes.
- Insulation. If you need an extra layer of insulation in your clothes, your home, or on the floor of a shed, you can use dry straw to stay warmer.
- To stuff mattresses and pillows. You can create emergency pillows and mattresses by stuffing old clothes, pillowcases, or even duvet covers with dry straw. It will give you some cushion and some warmth.
- Animal Bedding. Animals need warmth too, so if it suddenly gets cold, give them some straw to snuggle in to stay warm.
- Garden Mulch. If you can’t get mulch for your garden, you can use the leftover straw to keep down weeds.
- Compost Pile. Bulk up your compost pile with extra straw to create rich compost for your garden. This is especially helpful when you can’t get fertilizer.
- Biomass. You can loosen up heavy soil by tilling in leftover straw. This will create some biomass for plants to grow in.
- Heat source. Straw can be compacted into tight bricks and burned outside.
- Building materials. Straw mixed with clay and baked forms strong bricks, which can be used for building fences, walls, and other structures.
- Straw Bales. If you can make bales of straw, you can use the bales for a number of purposes:
- In place of chairs and tables, especially outside
- Strawbale gardens
- Build a temporary shelter for animals or people by stacking hay bales and securing them with rebar
Final Thoughts on Using Wheat in Emergencies
Wheat is a versatile food and textile that you can use to get you through all kinds of emergencies. There are many ways to use wheat for food, shelter, and even warmth. Make sure you add wheat and straw to your storage food and preps so you can be ready to care for your family in emergencies.
How do I get wheatberries if I can’t grow them myself?
If you don’t have the space to grow your own wheat, you can easily purchase wheatberries at health food stores, big-box stores, and online. In addition, you can purchase wheatberries packaged for long-term or short-term storage.
Do wheatberries last longer than flour?
Flour might only store well anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Wheatberries, on the other hand, when properly packaged, can be stored for up to 30 years or longer.