How to Store Bulk Grain

Remember that 500 pound order of hard white wheat I ordered and brought home a few weeks ago?  (Yeah, like you could forget.)

bagsofwheatsm

You may be happy to know that I’m down to only 447 (give or take) pounds of wheat now.  And you were worried that I wouldn’t use it all up quickly…

Anyway, many of you asked how I would store all my bags of grain…and several of you suggested that I “critter proof” it.  Yes. Very, very good advice.  If it’s one thing I can count on having at my house…it’s critters.  {shudder}  Although I don’t think snakes or birds should care too much about my wheat…we do see our fair share of bugs and the occasional mouse.  Eeeww.  I do NOT want mice getting into my big stash of wheat.  That would just be maddening.

And so, ever since I brought home all the wheat in February…I’ve been on a quest for big huge buckets for my grain storage.  I needed some with lids that seal very well (obviously).  The fabulous buckets with gamma seal lids I found online are pricey!  Great quality, no doubt…but I needed around 20 buckets.  I could have spent at least $80 for what I needed, and that was JUST the lid…not the bucket!  Ouch.

Instead, I began asking around at my local grocery stores.  Did you know that the frosting used in a bakery often comes in big five gallon buckets?!  Yes indeed.  That’s a lot of frosting!  Did you know that most bakeries go through several of these big five gallon buckets in a month?  Yes indeed.  That’s a lot of frosting!  And did you know that bakeries generally don’t want to keep their empty buckets after they’ve used the frosting out of them?  Yes indeed.  That’s a lot of empty, unwanted buckets.

One store asked me to “fork over” an entire dollar per bucket with lid that I took from them.  Big buckets with lids for a dollar each?  Okeedokee!

The other store practically threw their buckets with lids into my cart and wouldn’t let me pay one penny for them.  They were almost giddy about the fact that I was so happy to take the buckets off of their hands.  For free.  Yes indeed.

And so…long story longer…I came away from my grocery store bakery departments with 20 buckets with lids for a total of $6.00.   Yes, that was SIX dollars.  Total. 

wheat_bucket_sm

I washed and dried the buckets thoroughly, then got busy scooping all of the wheat into them.  I found that it took two – five gallon buckets for each 50 pound bag of wheat. 

I now have a big stash of white frosting buckets full of hard white wheat just waiting to be turned into bread, tortillas, muffins, pancakes, cakes, pies, cookies, pretzels, donuts, buns, bagels…the possibilities are endless!

And the critters?  They can go pick on someone their own size. 

Huh.  I’m suddenly remembering another time I bravely and fearlessly used big buckets to defend myself from attack.  Wow.  Who knew buckets such as these would be such a helpful aid for a wimpy woman such as I.  Between big buckets and cottage cheese containers…I’d say I am well protected.  What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Kathy Shaner says

    Hey, thank you! We have some bags of grain that I’ve been needing to get out of the bags and into some kind of storage. But as you say– it gets pretty pricey. Good idea to try the grocery store bakeries…

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  2. says

    Wow, that sure is impressive!! 500 pounds of wheat…that would last me a LONG time. I’m glad you found a way to store it and I love that you repurposed something that the stores were wanting to get rid of anyway.

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  3. elaine says

    Great solution! We have also put up several hundreds of pounds of grain a time or two. One other thing I would mention is that you can use dry ice to kill the bugs. I didn’t know until someone told me that there are bugs and bug eggs already in the bags of grain and by using the dry ice it displaces the oxygen in the bucket and even if there are bugs or eggs, they won’t have any oxygen to survive. It was very simple and I highly recommend it. I have known of other families that didn’t do this and lost some grain to bugs – fortunately, we haven’t ever had a bucket go “buggy” on us :)
    I also LOVE my gamma lids – I keep a couple of buckets in my pantry of my most-used grains with gamma lids and I just empty buckets that we have put into long term storage into these buckets as I empty them out. Well worth the investment!!

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    Carrie Reply:

    How long have you stored your flour this way ( in buckets with the sealed lids). Also, how did you keep moisture from building up in buckets when you used the dry ice? Thanks!!

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  4. says

    Another idea… Fresh Step kitty litter buckets from the Warehouse Stores. They are also 5 gallon, and if you wash them well with soap and water, they are good to go. The seal extra well… the Boys Scouts in my Mom’s area use them to keep critters out of their food when they go camping: someone stops and picks up the one she puts out every week!

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  5. Dani says

    Eeesh. Now you know all the ingredients in the frosting. Could that be worse than critters?

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    Laura Reply:

    Yeah, that ingredient list on the buckets is SCARY! I washed all the hydrogenated oils out really well before filling them with wheat… :)

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    Priscilla Reply:

    could buy mylar bags (pleasant hill grain carries them) to use inside the plastic buckets

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  6. Tawna Fuller says

    I have wheat that I am putting in buckets too. I have heard about the dry ice and a few other things. Did you put anything in them? If I don’t how long do I have to rotate through them?

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    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t done the dry ice thing, so I don’t know. The room our wheat bags were in got VERY cold this winter so I felt pretty good about any eggs or bugs being killed.

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    Kathy Shaner Reply:

    So if you’re using dry ice– do you just put it right in the bucket with the grain? Or does it have to be contained somehow? I’m not picturing it…

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    elaine Reply:

    when we put our grain up – we put the dry ice on the bottom (just 1/2 C or so) and then we put a sheet cut out of paper grocery sacks that fit over the bottom of the bucket (very loosely – nothing precise). We poured the grain on top of that and put the lids on loosely at first.

    We discovered that as the oxygen is displaced the bucket will suck in. You just have to play with it – the sucking in is a good thing because you know the dry ice is doing it’s job — but if it sucks in too much the lid won’t fit!! We had put a few lids on too tight at first and had to pop them off a little until the bucket regained it’s normal shape :)

    We put up over 100 buckets of grain that day (10+ years ago!!) and I still have probably 20 or 30 that we are still slowly going through (some things we ordered from a co-op VERY cheaply that we ended up not liking as much) and we have never had a problem. I have heard that grain that is properly put up this way will last just about forever … moisture and bugs are the greatest enemy. Hope that helps!

  7. says

    We did the same thing at our local bakery. They were calling us once a week begging us to come take the buckets off their hands! (We even once had them through in a dozen donuts a time or two :D ) We are now up to our eyeballs in buckets and I love seeing what creative uses we can put them to around here. Besides food storage of course.

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  8. Carmen says

    Having had weevils before – I always flash freeze my grains to kill any eggs/bugs. It’s a terrible feeling to open that big tub only to find tons of weevils crawling around!!!

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  9. trisha says

    I had forgotten about that source. I used to get some from a doughnut store. They kinda looked at me weird though. This would work great for the big 33lb of palm shortening I ordered. I need something “critter” proof, never fails if I don’t. Will definitely be trying to get some today.

    One other question—we’re having a little difficulty adjusting to the “whole wheat” taste. I’m just not feeling the love. Is it just me? Any ideas on helping this transition? I think I’m going to go to 1/2 fresh ground whole wheat and 1/2 regular and see if that helps.

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    Laura Reply:

    I’m sorry you’re not enjoying the whole wheat taste. Are you using flour made from hard RED or hard WHITE wheat? Whenever I use hard red wheat, we have a MUCH harder time getting the food down. It has a much stronger flavor and tastes so…whole wheat.

    BUT, when I use hard white wheat…the flavor is so mild and the texture of our breads and such is so much nicer! We hardly feel like we’re eating whole wheat when I use hard white (which is what I always use if I can!).

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    trisha Reply:

    yep, using the hard white. It’s a little better than hard red. The bread is sorta okay. It’s all the other stuff that we’re really having a hard time with.+

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    Aelinn Reply:

    I read somewhere that you should save the water when you boil potatoes, and use that potato water as your liquid when you bake with whole wheat, and then your baked goods will turn out lighter. HAven’t tried it myself, but maybe it would help?

    Sheryl Reply:

    White Whole Wheat makes a lighter looking and tasting bread that makes it seem like you did use 1/2 and 1/2.

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  10. Kim says

    What a great idea! We have been looking for something affordable to store chicken food in as well as my bulk grain that should be coming soon.
    Did you know that you can actually buy a 5 gallon bucket with the icing in it at Costco?? In case you wanted to get your lifetime intake of hydrogenated oils (and much much more) by the spoonful :)
    Thanks for this suggestion. I will be heading to my grocery store today.

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    Danielle Reply:

    LOL… I’m sorry but this just cracked me up!

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  11. Jessica says

    This may sound like a dumb question, but has anyone ever used drywall mud buckets…very well cleaned out of course? We are contemplating our grain storage options. We’ve had a moth problem….I’m hating those moths. My husband has tons of those buckets, with lids. At the moment, I was just going to use them to put the bags of flour, but if we finally get that grain mill, then I’ll have all those wheat berries to store.

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  12. says

    I think the reason that the frosting buckets work so well, it because they are food grade buckets. They are safe to store food in. Anytime you reuse a bucket that held a different product, you can’t be sure of the quality of the bucket, or what was stored in it previously. Some chemicals can be absorbed in to the plastic, and then to store food in it . . .

    I buy bulk bags of bread flour, my husband works in a restaurant and have brough home buckets that stored ingredients there. They work perfect.

    The 5 gallon bucket also works good to store my homemade laundry detergent.

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    Pearl Reply:

    can someone send me a recipe for homemade laundry soap?
    we used food grade diatamceous earth in our grain buckets to deal with
    the bugs. works very well and its good for a toxin cleanse at the
    same time. thanks,

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  13. Courtney says

    I have several of the storage buckets with gamma lids from Pleasant Hill Grain. They are a bit pricey (and I definitely would not want to have to buy 20 of them!) but I love ‘em!

    As far as using things like kitty litter containers or drywall buckets, I would be very hesitant to try that. Who knows what weird chemicals are lurking in containers not meant for food storage?

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  14. Martha says

    Yes, I get all my grain buckets at the bakery in Sams! They are happy to get rid of them, and don’t charge anything.

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    Priscilla Reply:

    I got a friend from my Sam’s in WI until their manager found out and told them NOT to give away any more. They get money/credit for them when they recycle them. I offered to pay what they were getting but the empty bucket w/lid is not in their system so, they can’t sell ‘em to me. :(

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    Priscilla Reply:

    typo above (sorry) should be a few (not the word friend)

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    Martha Reply:

    My Sams will still give away the buckets, but they now throw the lid away as soon as they open it, so it doesn’t go much good! Our Walmart bakery will sell them for $1 with the lid.

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  15. Sheila says

    I got the same kind of frosting buckets from Sam’s for mine (25 pounds at a time, not 500!) They give them free also. I read somewhere that it’s also helpful to add a bay leaf to repel bugs as well, and I’ve done that.

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  16. says

    Jessica, You can use empty drywall mud buckets, but only if you line them with big mylar bags first. Drywall buckets and other such pails are not food grade.

    By the way, you can tell if a bucket IS food grade if it has the letters “HDPE” (high density polyethylene) on the bottom outside of the pail. HDPE is also indicated by the number “2″ inside of a recycle triangle, also on the pail’s bottom.

    There’s a whole article about food grade storage pails: why the thickness of the pail matters, how much various pails hold, etc. at http://bulknaturalfoods.com/wheat-storage-pails.html.

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  17. Kelly says

    Perfect timing of this post! I have a 50lb bag of hard white coming in next week and thought I would have to go buy some containers for it. I just called around to my local grocery stores and 1 of them had a couple buckets w/lids that they were going to throw away tonight. They are saving them for me to go get tomorrow! Thanks for saving me a little money!!!

    P.S. I just read the story about your chicken-sitting adventures. Too funny. We have six hens and no roosters (I had heard they are mean too, and with 3 little kids, and only a need for the eggs, I didn’t want any!). Our chickens are very docile though. My older children (ages 7 and 4) carry them around the yard and have even taken them sledding with them in the winter. :)

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    Susan Reply:

    Take them sledding? That is hilarious!

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  18. Kassie says

    I just wanted to input something here for the people who had them around them. :) I work at Publix, in the bakery, as a cake decorator, and if you go to Publix, we do not charge you for those very same buckets. I am surprised someone did. Because the truth is, they only get thrown out. And if you people do live near Publix’s and one tells you no for FREE, call another one, because I am sure they’ll say yes. I’ve been at multiple stores and have never had an issue giving these buckets away. Especially because you’re purchasing them used & empty.

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  19. Anita says

    I had rodents gnaw into the birdseed I had in those large plastic buckets like you have. Granted it was in my garage, but man, it was a mess!

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  20. Amy says

    I hope this isn’t a silly question, but, everyone has mentioned flour or wheat. I have 33lbs of Rapadura coming Wednesday from Azure. Could I use these buckets to store it? Or does it come in a storage container? Thanks!
    Amy

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    Laura Reply:

    Oh yeah…these would work great for storing rapadura!! Glad you asked! Others might be wondering the same thing!

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  21. Ann says

    I have a friend who works in the nutrition department of our local hospital–yet another source of those wonderful buckets!!

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  22. Nancy M. says

    Sorry to inform you that mice can chew thru plastic to get to grain in storage. The only way to “critter proof” your stash is to use metal containers. I am lucky as my DH works in a milk/milk beverage processing plant and they have an olmost endless supply of 55 gallon metal containers with lids and locking bands. They were used to store and transport dry ingredients for different milk based beverage products. I have theem in my cool cellar where I unfortunately know there are “critters” but I have used these successfully for 2 years now. You may have to keep an eye on your containers and possible start looking for metal containers.

    Sorry to break the bad news, but on the upside, youe stash of buckets look wonderful and you know that their contents contain life sustaining, healthy food for your family.
    Good luck and I pray that you remain critter free!!

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  23. Mandy says

    HAHA… got you all beat.. I have a grain bin..lots of them actually :) Well, err the farm does.. so when i want wheat I just stroll, walk or wade (through snow banks in a blizzard- I am dedicated :) )open the bin and take my wheat.. it is the perfect system :)

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  24. Laura says

    Those buckets look like a great solution to storing your grain. I buy my flour in 50# increments and store one 25# bag in the deep freeze and portion the other into big ice cream tubs. They’re kinda like a small version of those buckets, they each hold 5# of flour. My dad eats a lot of ice cream so we have a steady supply of empty containers. The ingredients are probably no better than the frosting :eye roll: The ice cream buckets fit well in my freezer since I buy the flour and need to keep it cold so the oils don’t become rancid.

    Great find on the free buckets, I bet that was a bit of a chore to wash them out, but you likely had help!

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  25. says

    I don’t think what you did is possible here in Singapore but I just wanted to say – I LOVE your sense of humour :) And I am still waiting for you to share how to START eating healthily.

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  26. Cynthia says

    I’m celiac so I don’t buy grain in sizes that vast but I have found a great use for these buckets. I use them to collect my compost to take outside and for container garden to grow things on the deck (herbs and small plants).

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  27. Lois says

    What a great idea to get bakery buckets! My husband brought me some empty 5-gal. buckets from the home improvement store. They didn’t cost that much and I’ve never had mice chew through them, even in South Dakota. No one has mentioned bay leaves to keep out the weevils. They work great. I put in 3-4 in the bottom, a couple half-way down, and several on top too. I bought a pound of bay leaves through the co-op. I’m not sure about dry ice. Seems like it would burn the skin if it made contact.

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  28. says

    Check your local delis, too… sometimes pickles come in those big buckets!

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, they do. My husband was going to bring one home for me from work. BUT, it takes a LOT to get that pickle smell out, so we found it wasn’t worth the effort!

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    Aelinn Reply:

    Ooh… glad you brought that up… I hadn’t thought of it, because I’ve so far only used the pickle buckets as planters.

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  29. angel s says

    thanks for this tip! I went to the grocery store today and they gave me one bucket for free! I will be using it to make my own laundry detergent!

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  30. Jenna says

    So, if you are getting buckets from the bakery, do they have gamma lids, or do you have to use oxygen absorbers or anything like that?

    Thanks!

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    Laura Reply:

    These buckets aren’t anything special necessarily…they are just very thick and have a very good sealing lid.

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    Niki Reply:

    If you live in the southern states, I do not recommend these buckets
    We were fine when we lived in Michigan, as there are hardly any cereal moths there. Down here it is a different story, and teh buckets just don’t seal well enough. I now use dry ice and lids only with locking seals. I lost several hundred pounds of grain.

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  31. Ashley says

    Thanks so much for this post! After reading it, I went and asked the bakery at my Kroger, and they were happy to hand over several empty buckets for free! I now happily have five-gallon buckets for my beans and flour and oats, which makes me a happy girl. :)

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  32. Michele says

    We had the mice eat through our storage buckets once (yes, thick covered plastic storage container) just to get to the dog food. I asked some of my “country” friends and they said that is what they use their broken deep freezer for. Who’d of thought to save a broken deep freezer to store stuff away from critters (not me). Sounds like a good option for bags of grain as well.

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    amy Reply:

    we use and old freezer for our horse feed works great!!

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  33. Amanda says

    I had my husband stop by a couple of food places at the mall-the popcorn place had a bunch of 5 gallon buckets up for grabs and were happy to get rid of them.

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  34. AMy Carter says

    Not that free isn’t great but did you know that Azure standard will have their 2 gallon buckets and their gamma seal lids on a great sale in May and June? The lids were only $3.60 which is amazing price and I will be picking up a few cause they are handy!

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  35. Mommyoftwo says

    I did not read all the comments on this posts, so this may have already been said. I wanted to let you and everyone know that if you ask at local restaurants, fast food and sit down, you may be able to get pickle buckets for free or cheap. I have worked at several restaurants in my day, and almost all the burger selling places receive their pickles in 5-gallon buckets just like your frosting. They do end up smelling like the brine they are packed in for a while, but if you have anything like pasts in bags or other small containers that don’t stack well, then they would work great to provide stacking potential.

    I hope this helps everyone. Have a great day.

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  36. KristinaD says

    I just got some yesterday at our local Fred Meyers bakery! Thanks for the tips! I think I might get some food grade plastic bags to line the buckets with and use the bay leaves on the outside between the plastic and the bucket. Most of what I have is flour and I don’t want it picking up any of that icky frosting.

    One of the store employees said she puts all her first aid items in one of the smaller buckets and keeps her lanterns in another so they don’t break.

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  37. Rachel says

    could someone send me some simple recipes to use for the wheat? i have it in storage because i was told to have some and i have 1 bread recipe but how do i make pie? or bagels ? and when i make pancakes do i just use it like i would white flour?

    we put diatamaceous earth (food grade) in our buckets with wheat.

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    Laura Reply:

    You’ll see all kinds of great wheat recipes on this page: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/recipes-2/bread-and-breakfast-2 ;)

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  38. says

    hee hee that is SOOOOO cool you got the buckets for free or for a buck! too cool I love it! This is all sooooo interesting and I sure wish I knew someone I could learn all this sort of stuff from around here locally. I do know a woman that bakes her bread once a week for her family and I might just have to check with her to see IF she grinds her wheat etc. I want to go watch her make bread one day because I am clueless about it.

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  39. Heidi says

    Where can you order 500 or more pounds of grain and have it delivered> I am aware of Azure, Breadbeckers, etc. But I would like to go directly to the source for that quantity. Any thoughts?

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    Laura Reply:

    My friend orders from Wheat Montana and skips the middle man, but you have to order an entire semi full and share with friends. Doing it this way is convenient for me, but ultimately doesn’t save tons per year. I’d say that if this option doesn’t work for you – go with Azure or Breadbeckers! They are still great prices.

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  40. Heidi says

    I would like to buy a large amount of grain. I am familiar with Breadbeckers, Azure, etc. Are there any other companies where you can buy direct and not pay a middle man?

    Thanks.

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  41. Martha says

    I would check around with all the homeschoolers, or homesteaders you can find in your area and ask about different co-ops. While we do have a Bread Beckers co-op in our area, Bread Beckers is one of the most expensive places to buy wheat. And find out if there are any organic, small food businesses around you, they may order from Dutch Valley Foods, and if they’ll let you order with them, you can save a bundle. We do that here, and get wholesale prices. Also, Frankfurd Farms in a fairly inexpensive place where co-ops order from. And see if you have a Mormon storage center near you. Some will only sell to fellow Mormons, but the one I go to will sell to anyone and they are very inexpensive – I get all my wheat, dry beans, oats, and some other things through them.

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  42. Stacy says

    I just bought a bunch of grain, got my buckets and lids from Walmart (thanks so much for idea!), and now I’m going to store it. What I wanted to find out…does anyone know if I need to put dry ice or oxygen absorbers into these buckets to take care of any bugs, etc.? I will not be able to freeze them b/c we don’t have a deep freezer. I am not confident enough in our mild TN weather to say that it will get cold enough to freeze out any bugs. Also, can I just put the grain directly into the cleaned out buckets or do I need to put it in the mylar bags first? And do I need the gamma seal lids or is that just a more convenient type of lid for the bucket and not a necessity? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Martha Reply:

    I just put the wheat right into the clean buckets. I also put one bay leaf into each bucket, as that is supposed to keep the bugs out. And I just use the lid that comes with the bucket. Been storing wheat like this for years, and we’ve never had an issue with it.

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    Niki Reply:

    Stacy,
    Do yourself a favor, save some heartbreak, add 1/4 cup dry ice to the bucket, and poor the grain on top. Set the lid on top, do not seal. Let the ice sublimate for a couple of hours and saeal. We never had a problem in Michigan. In Arkansas I lost 300 pounds of grain to bugs. Do the ice!

    [Reply]

    Sherianne Mansoor Reply:

    Where can I get dry ice from? Is this totally safe? Should I separate the dry ice from the grain?

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  43. Sheryl says

    I have kept bulk wheat in buckets since 1981. It is a good idea to freeze the wheat before putting in buckets. Also, put Bay leaves in the bottom of each bucket and again on top. Several. It doesn’t affect the wheat’s flavor and bugs don’t like it. I have kept wheat 15 years that way. Why? Well, my inlaws grew “soft” wheat and when we stocked up they told us it was “hard” wheat; but as you know, when you go to make bread it is VERY obvious which kind you have. I use alot of “hard” wheat but little “soft” wheat so it went a LONG ways!! :)

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  44. Carrie says

    Elaine, how does the flour not get damp from the dry ice? I’d like to try this! Also have you tried it with rice? Thanks!

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  45. says

    I read your artical about that great deal on pails and lids

    BUT,,,,,,,,,, (important)

    you did NOT mention FREEZING the grain at below zero for more than 3 days or packing them in nitrogen

    please do this…. the existing bug eggs in the grain will hatch in your pails and ruin your storage

    Noel

    [Reply]

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