The Survival Guide To Long Term Food Storage: Part 8
Part of the Mormon food storage folk lore is that you toss a couple of sticks of spearmint gum in a bucket of wheat before you seal it. It is supposedly effective to stick several bay leaves in the flour canister as well.
Another way to treat grains that are intended for extended storage periods is to add Diatomaceous earth around them. Diatomaceous earth is actually the defunct carcasses of a series of microscopic, one celled protozoans. These are cells with sharp, complex, pointy, virtually crystal-like "shells" when their moisture is taken away from them and they are dried. Diatomaceous earth is primarily harvested from areas where seas were once present.
This Diatomaceous earth is a primary component of toothpaste: it's the grit that actually scrubs your teeth clean and is also used in compounding waxes for automotive applications and various other products where microscopic "sanding" is required. These sharp edged dead protozoans are lethal to soft-bodied insects who end up impaling their bodies on the super sharp protrusions and spikes of these "shells" which are actually quite pretty when observed under the microscope.
The insects that prey on beans and grains are primarily categorized into larva and beetle sub-groupings. Larvae are quite vulnerable to death by the sharp spikes of diatom, but armor-covered beetles are much more resistant. Diatmaceous earth is an excellent product to sprinkle on the soil around plants you want to protect from the various slugs and snails who want to make a meal out of them. The diatoms pierce their tender bellies and kills them!
Storage in grain bags or sacks made out of burlap or any other cloth-like material is most certainly not an effective manner to keep those grains comestible for long periods of time. Both rodent and insect pests as well as mold can destroy a cloth bag of grain in less than a year, even if the sack is stored well off the ground at a cool temperature in a dry area. If the sack is left on the ground or on a moist surface such as damp concrete, the period of time that can elapse for full contamination can be less than a week!
When you open a bucket of grain you should make a point to use it as quickly as you can, and you won't have to worry about what happens to it as it will be gone before it can go bad.
Once the grain has exceeded the acceptable limits of moisture it most likely will have to be dried before it can be consumed or milled. To test whether a particular grain which has exceeded the recommended moisture limits is still suitable for human consumption, sprout some. If it sprouts, it is still quite good to eat, but if not, it should not be consumed by humans or pet / livestock animals. The time it takes for grains to sprout can exceed a week, but remember the old dictum: "When in doubt, throw it out."
A good use of grain if you can catch it just as it gets wet is to sprout it on purpose. Sprouted grain is very sweet and crunchy and makes a quick, handy, readily portable and highly nutritious snack!
If you take careful precautions and are extremely meticulous in your efforts to control the various aspects of emergency and survival food storage, you will find that grains are close to the perfect long term stored nutrient. And they taste great too!
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