The last couple of years have made a lot of people stop and actually take a look at what they have on hand for an emergency. If you are like me, and a good majority of the people with food storage, you probably took some inventory and realized you have a lot of wheat.
This is great! Wheat is one of the most recommended items to store in case of an emergency. You probably have not even had to rotate it out due to how long it lasts! But when an emergency happens and you need to rely on your food storage, do you know what to actually do with all that wheat you have stored? Are you familiar enough with cooking wheat that you could keep your family fed? Do you know how to live off wheat in an emergency?
Wheat that has been stored properly can last a long time and be made into many healthy foods. You can mill it for flour, boil it for breakfast, soak it in water to add to soups and salads, or sprout it to pull even more nutrients out! It can be a great source of protein that fills you up, which is especially helpful when you are in an emergency situation and have to cut back on other foods.
In this article we are going to look at the top four ways to prepare wheat so that you will be practiced and confident in using your stored wheat, even after it’s been sitting in your food storage for 20 years!
It is important to note that if you do not currently cook with and eat whole wheat, it will take time for your digestive system to become accustomed to it. Wheat contains a good amount of fiber and adding a lot at once can leave you not feeling very well. Better to ease into it now than wait until an emergency and you have no other options.
Mill the Wheat Into Whole Wheat Flour
Wheat berries can be milled into flour using a grain mill. Whether electric or hand powered, a reliable mill is an important part of storing wheat. While there are still other ways to use whole wheat without milling it, being able to make flour will expand your options immensely and keep you from eating the same things over and over. Now with all the extra flour you will have you want to ensure you are storing your flour properly over the long term
Wheat flour can be substituted in almost every recipe that calls for white or all purpose flour. When subbing for all purpose flour, use ¾ cup wheat in place of 1 cup all purpose flour. Wheat flour is denser so you want to add slightly less than it calls for to account for that.
It will also change the taste a bit depending on how much wheat flour is used, but that is not always a bad thing! Wheat adds a nutty, deeper flavor to baked goods that can really make them better than before. A great way to start incorporating wheat flour is with a family favorite recipe. Make your favorite pasta, cake, bread, or cookies as usual, but add half wheat flour and half white flour. Keep playing with the ratios until you find what you and your family like best.
Here is a tried and true recipe for pasta made from wheat flour that will get you started!
Homemade Wheat Pasta
What you will need:
- Pasta roller or rolling pin
- Pasta cutter or knife
- Mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- 1 cup wheat flour (you can also use half wheat and half white / semolina / 00 flour)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
To make the pasta
- In a mixing bowl, create a well in the flour.
- Place the eggs inside of the well.
- Using a fork, gently whisk the eggs incorporating the flour a little at a time.
- Continue mixing until all flour has been incorporated and you can no longer whisk the dough.
- Knead the dough with your hands until you have a firm ball.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes to let the gluten develop and the dough becomes slightly elastic.
- Cut the dough into fourths and flatten a bit with your hands.
- If using a pasta roller, begin on the largest setting and pass the dough through multiple times, making it thinner as you go until you have a thin long sheet. (The easiest way to do this is to put it through the machine, fold it into thirds, and then put it back in. Repeat until it is a rectangle). If using a rolling pin, roll the dough out in a large rectangle as thin as you can get it.
- Cut the dough into long strips with either a knife or through a pasta cutter.
- If cooking right away, boil around 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Add 2 – 3 handfuls of noodles at a time and cook for 3 minutes. Noodles will float and be slightly swollen when they are done. Rinse and enjoy with your favorite sauce.
- If storing noodles for a later time, wrap the uncooked noodles around your fingers to make ‘nests’. Store in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also leave them out to dry for 24-48 hours and then store in an airtight container. Cook as described above, note that boiling times will be longer for dried and frozen pasta.
Boil The Wheat Berries
One of the easiest and quickest ways to prepare wheat is to boil it to make a porridge style cereal. It has a consistency similar to oatmeal and while it can be an acquired taste, it is definitely good for you.
To make it, combine 1 part cracked wheat with about 3.5 parts water and boil for 20 – 30 minutes. It is done when the wheat is soft and the texture is slightly chewy.
Once cooked, stir in milk, honey, brown sugar, dried fruit, or maple syrup to make it a tasty breakfast the whole family will eat.
If you are planning to have more than plain wheat cereal during an emergency, you will need to make sure that you have some toppings in your food storage as well! Sugar, honey, powdered milk, and dried fruits are all great options for storage and make wheat cereal taste much better.
Soak Wheat In Water
Soaking cracked wheat in water will soften it and make it edible. This is easy to do if you are just starting out and don’t yet have a wheat mill or if you are looking to expand your options for recipes.
Making it is simple. In a bowl, cover wheat berries with hot water and let them sit at least 8 hours, or overnight. Once they are soft, they can be added into broth based soups, tossed in green salads, substituted for rice, or even put in granola on yogurt.
A great recipe to start with is Minestrone Soup! You can use any vegetables you have on hand, as well as beans, pasta, and wheat you have in your food storage.
Here is a basic recipe that can be adjusted based on the season and what you have to use.
- 7 cups of various diced vegetables. Good options are carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc.
- 6 cups of vegetable broth
- 28 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups of soaked wheat and /or cooked beans
- Salt, pepper, garlic, or any other prefered seasonings
How to make Minestrone Soup
- Saute all the hard vegetables such as onion, carrot, celery, etc.
- Once soft, add in all remaining vegetables, vegetable stock, tomatoes and seasonings.
- Let simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
- Add in wheat / beans and cook for another 5 minutes
- Serve topped with cheese or with whole wheat bread
One of the biggest benefits to sprouting wheat is that it makes it easier to digest and helps with nutrient absorption. If eating whole wheat is making you bloated or upsetting your stomach, try sprouting it first and then making flour or adding it to recipes. Sprouted wheat can be used interchangeably with soaked wheat or even dehydrated and milled into flour.
In order to be able to sprout wheat you first have to make sure you indeed have whole wheat. You need the entire wheat berry in order to get it to sprout. (Cracked wheat will not sprout and is best for milling or soaking instead of sprouting.)
How To Sprout Wheat
- Similar to soaking, cover the wheat berries in hot water but let them sit for 12 – 24 hours.
- After they have sat for a day, pour them into a mesh sieve and rinse with water, stirring with your hands.
- Place the sieve over a bowl to catch any remaining water and let it rest. Rinse and stir the wheat every 12 or so hours for the next 72 hours.
- It is done when each wheat berry has grown a little sprout at the end.
- Use the sprouted wheat in soups, salads, as cereal, or dehydrate and make flour.
The best thing to do with wheat is to start eating it today! Incorporate the wheat in your food storage into your next family’s meal so that you can enjoy not only the health benefits, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can use the wheat that you have stored and that your family will not only eat it, but enjoy it!
To find out more about how much of each item you should be storing we wrote a food storage calculator post which is a great guide to help you work out how much to store of each item.