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Healthy Living on March 21, 2014 by

Storing Whole Grains

If you asked Bob how to store whole grains, he’d tell you to buy an extra fridge. Put it next to your regular fridge and fill it with all of your whole grains. Most of us don’t have the ability to add an extra fridge to our lives. Even if someone gave me a free fridge and offered to pay the increase in my electrical bill, I couldn’t fit a second fridge into my kitchen. Excepting those who are able to have a fridge or freezer with spare room, the rest of us are stuck scratching our heads and hoping our grains will be fine. Here’s a rundown on where to store whole grains. I hope it will give you some insight and inspiration for your own kitchen and maybe free up a little room in your freezer.

Whole grains are best kept in the fridge or freezer to prevent rancidity. True. They are. This is more important when a grain has been broken up in some way, be it milled into flour, cracked into cereal, or flaked like oatmeal. Whole grains themselves (brown rice, wheat berries, quinoa, etc.) are more shelf stable that we think. Some of these grains can last many years without going rancid. That’s how nature made them. Most whole grains that have been broken up in some way will last up to two years, sometimes longer, without spoiling.

Here is a quick breakdown of where to store products.

  • Whole Grains (wheat berries, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc) used once a month: room temp
  • Whole Grains used less than once a month: freezer
  • Dried Beans: room temp
  • Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used once a week: room temp
  • Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used less than once a month: fridge or freezer
  • Baking Mixes: room temp or fridge, do not freeze
  • Refined Grains, Flours and Cereals (white flour, white rice, etc): room temp
  • Items that should always be kept in the fridge or freezer: 
    • Almond Meal
    • Hazelnut Meal
    • Coconut Flour
    • Wheat Germ
    • Rice Bran
    • Flaxseed Meal (whole seeds are fine at room temp)
    • Hemp Seeds
    • Active Dry Yeast (do not freeze)

I recommend airtight containers for everything, but, at the very least, use airtight containers for things left at room temperature. Bugs love whole grains and nothing keeps a bug out quite like a mason jar. Plus, mason jars filled with whole grains and beans are very pretty and make a lovely addition to your decor. You can make your own labels like we did with the display above, or cut out labels from our bag and adhere them to your jars.

I hope this has been helpful. Do you have any insights from your kitchen on how to best store grains?

Comments

DrGrace says:

I was wondering if you could make apricot kernel meal/flour it is rich in cancer fighting vitamins b15 and b17 and not everyone can chew the kernels. Please think about it. I would love to be able to sprinkle it on the oatmeal for the elderly people I care about and even for my own family 🙂 It is so important to get these two b vitamins back in to our natural diet 🙂 Thank you for all you do.

Dr Grace,

Thank you for your kind words. We have not heard of making apricot kernel meal, but we’ll pass along the request. I always thought they had some negative effects, but perhaps that is peaches. We do not sell the labels, but if we do start in the future, I’ll let you know. We just whipped them up for this post.

DrGrace says:

P.S. I forgot to ask. do you have these wonderful jar labels for sale somewhere? I would also love to use these labels for my containers. I only use YOUR flours and beans only your brand, it would be so amazing to have labels with little instructions on the side on basic preparation 🙂 To this day I have to keep your labels with the recipe inside my containers. These labels would help tremendously.

Marilyn Tenekjian says:

I like the idea of storing grains in mason jars as you suggest. Is it okay to store the grains in mason jars in the freezer?

Marilyn,

I would be careful storing glass jars in the freezer, but I’ve never had any issues with doing so.

Heidi H says:

Hello

Are the instructions for storage once the grain has been opened or just in general.

Thank you

The instructions are for storing grains after opening, but if you aren’t using a grain quickly and you haven’t opened it, we recommend the freezer. A grain can still go bad, even if it hasn’t been opened.

ap says:

I picked up my first bag of your Flaxseed Meal from a grocer who had it displayed to the top shelf in the baking goods aisle rather than refrigerated. Is it probably degraded in some way? Less nutrients or harmful?

April,

The flax should be fine. Stores usually move through it quickly enough to keep it at room temp. If it smells sour, though, it’s probably rancid.

Deirdre says:

We have bought a number of your flours but three bags of them have not yet been opened. We stored them in the closet and almost forgot about them until today. They are unopened but in some cases the sell-by date has passed. Is it safe to still use them ? They are as follows:
Quinoa Flour
Coconut Flour
Almond Meal Flour

As noted, they are all unopened but we’ve had them stored in the cabinet for a couple months.

Deidre,

It’s possible, but you’re going to have to open them and smell. Quinoa flour will smell funky anyway, but if it smells sour, don’t use it. Coconut flour should have a slight, sweet coconut smell- again, if it smells sour, don’t use it. Almond flour, this is the one with the highest risk of rancidity- if it smells off, don’t use it. If it smells sweet and almondy- it’s good to go.

David says:

Our family buys your wheat germ from every week. After opening the package, we place the rest of the wheat germ in a vacuum container and vacuum out the air and place it in the refrigerator. Over a week or two we open the container six or seven times and complete the vacuuming process each time.

Is there any risk of the wheat germ going rancid during that period?

Is it best to keep the wheat germ in the refrigerator or freezer? Does freezing it impact nutritional benefits?

Thanks

Drg

Ps we love all your products

David,

There should be minimal risk of your wheat germ going rancid in that short amount of time. Storing it in the fridge should be just fine to keep it fresh.

Paula Doherty says:

Cassidy,

Could you clarify for me the “Sale By Date”…..Is this to be understood to be the same as “Best By Date”?

Paula

Yes, the sell by date is the same as best by date.

Paula Doherty says:

Cassidy,

Does the “sell by date” mean the same as “best by date”?

this may be duplicate sorry.

Paula

Jessica says:

Do I need to let flour come to room temperature before using to bake breads?

It’s always a good idea to let your flour come to room temp before baking.

craige says:

I’m so bummed! When I moved to VA from NJ I could no longer find my favorite hot cereal (Bob’s 6 grain) and so I ordered it on Amazon. As much as I love it, I don’t eat it every day and when I went to open the last of the 4 bags that came in my Amazon order 6 months ago, it smelled and tasted funky. Most likely gone rancid despite the sell-by date not being until October 2016.

Oh no! We’re so sorry to hear that! Can you please call us at 800-349-2173 or email us at customerservice@bobsredmill.com so we can make it right?

Rachel McDermott says:

We buy all of our beans from Bobs red mill and like to jar them. Any chance you can share the nice label seen in your photo?

Rachel,

I’m sorry, but these were just mock labels. We do not have these available to send to you. We’re happy you like them, though!

Alisha says:

This was such a helpful post. Anyway you could share the pdf file off your labels? I absolutely love them.

Great idea! Thank you!

Susan H Llewellyn says:

It would be more than helpful for some of us if you packaged/sold some of your specialty flours, etc., in half-pound bags’

Great suggestion! Thank you!

BETTY MICHAEL says:

As far as peach seeds and apricot seeds go they both have cyanide in them. I would advise that you find a different natural healthier way to get the natural b vitamins that fight cancer.

BETTY MICHAEL says:

Here is more information on the apricot and peach seeds. Amygdalin, also referred to as Laetrile is in both of these pits. Some companies call this compound vitamin B17 in order to label and market the product as an esesential substance. In the body the chemical is converted to Cyanide, which is poisonous and can cause serious harm. I certainly hope you are not grinding these and giving then to any as an additive to their diet including your own. I strongly suggest that you find a better safer and healthier way to get the B17 and the other B vitamins you mentioned to help fight off cancer.

BETTY MICHAEL says:

If you grind the pits of either or both peaches and or apricots and use them as an additive to your or anyone else’s diet to get the natural vitamin b’s that fight off cancer, you would be making a serious mistake. You will not have to wonder whether or not the b vitamins really work because the cyanide in both of these pits will finish you off. Find a better healthier way to get your natural b vitamins.

Adrianna says:

Great suggestions for storing. I do keep it all in the fridge in the original packages. They stay dry & organize on the door. I buy many RM products.
Question: why are there 2 dates stamped in package of Muesli?
One use by date…then numbers and another date on second line.
Thank you

We’re so happy you enjoyed the article. The second date on your package is the packaged date.

Nia Lorre says:

I am left wonder HOW LONG you can store your grains under refrigeration or freezing. Seems like an important detail to leave out.

Most of our grains can be stored for 18 to 24 months under refrigeration.

Rachel says:

hi, I bought a bunch of your products and read on the packages “keep refrigerated or frozen”, Kroger and Sprouts, where I purchased your products from keep the items on the shelves, are the products okay or should they have been put in the fridge section at the store? Do I need to return them because they were not in the fridge (the could have been on the shelves for months) ? (I spent $200 between the two stores these past few days on your products)

No, they are perfectly fine as purchased on the shelf. The refrigeration is a suggestion after you bring them home and especially after you open them. We hope that helps.

Karen Cambier says:

I have an unopened bag of Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread and the sell by date is 9/21/2016. It has been in the cabinet since I bought it. Will it still work?

Thank you,
Karen

Yes, it should still work. We recommend proofing your yeast to make sure it’s still alive. If not, you can use your own yeast. The yeast packet in the mix contains 2 1/4tsp of active dry yeast.

~marilyn says:

This was very helpful.
However, I asked the same question yesterday and got taken to an entirely different page where it said that the question may be answered by other consumers.
I cannot find that page today (though now it doesn’t matter).
I tried to see what was on the blog several times, but the links appeared broken and clicking on from most pages takes you nowhere.
I don’t think it is my computer since it’s pretty new, but, of course, always a possibility.
I would suggest that you have this whole site gone over by someone to check the mapping and all the links though. My thinking is that there are several areas that need reconnecting to the whole.
I’ve just tried the steel-cut oats for the first time as I’ve always had stone-ground before. It’s not so usual to see the steel-cut here in Canada, but I (and my parrot) are really enjoying them. Great product.

Hi Marilyn, thank you for your feedback. We have updated our sight and are currently working on the broken links. We do appreciate you taking the time to let us know this is an issue for you.

Rachael says:

I just found a bag of 5-grain cereal, sell-by date of 8/2016. Never opened, has been in the cupboard. Should I just toss it? Will I know if it’s bad otherwise?

We do not recommend using it at this point. We can’t guarantee the quality.

louise says:

How long can I store wheat germ in the fridge? Also how long can I store wheat germ in the freezer? Thanks

Wheat germ is best kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, preferably the fridge or freezer. Will keep up to 12 months when stored properly.

Palak Sharma says:

Hello,
we are looking forward to buy teff, It would be a big help to know the shelf life of teff.
Please let us know what is the shelf life of:
– Teff Flour
– Whole grain

Great question Palak! Our Teff is best kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, preferably the fridge or freezer. It will keep up to 24 months when stored properly.

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