Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lessons Learned from using 30+ year old Wheat

So if you didn't know already - member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aka Mormons are commanded to keep a "Year Supply" Once you have a year supply of food, water, toiletries- you are suppose to aim for a 5 year supply and then a 10 year and then a 30 year supply for your whole family.
Guess you could call Mormons the original "preppers".
photo from A Prairie Homestead
Who has space for that? Tiny house living, using every space, has nothing on Mormons who have achieved the 30 year supply for a family of 7+ people.
Everyone who grew up in the Mormon church with food storing parents knows these realities:
picture from New Life on the Homestead blog
Under the bed is a convenient place to store food- but it is also a great way to keep your kids from shoving toys and stuff under it when it is time to clean up.
With the food all stored away under the bed it is hard to rotate. 
And my mom doesn't actually make bread (and when she did it wasn't from freshly ground wheat) and only actually used the wheat that was stored maybe once a year. Good thing wheat has a canned shelf life of 30 years.... only problem is what do you do with it after 30 years? My mom has always said that it is still food and she doesn't think the fact that it is over 30 years old will matter much at the end days and that its not like "oh yesterday was 30 years now its too old to use" will really matter.

My approach all these 7 years of marriage has been to to buy and store more of what I am actually using and try to find recipes that I can use the stuff I have and rotate it. If we had to live solely off what we have in the house I think we could last 4-6 months with some creativity and some boredom from the same foods. - so no we have not achieved the "Year Supply" levels. But I also haven't tried to can or use the storehouse to buy in food storage bulk levels.

So last year I wanted to start making some of our own bread. I started with Pizza.  I figured that was probably the most fool-proof place to start. But I wanted to use whole wheat flour. I had been using it to make all sorts of things we eat (I normally try to do half whole wheat flour and half cheap store white stuff). But I found that when you start using 5 cups at a time the whole wheat stuff became crazy expensive. I was at a friends house and she had a wheat grinder and was using it while I was there. She had got it not long after they had got married (almost 15 years ago) and it had been going strong all that time. After talking to my husband about how we could afford a wheat grinder we decided to ask both our parents for amazon gift cards for Christmas so we could use all the gift cards and some of our own money and afford to buy the grinder. When I told my mom they even threw in my birthday present money. So we now have a wheat grinder. 

This brings us to 30+ year old wheat. Even before we started to cut back and keeping to a budget, I asked my mom for her oldest wheat. My thoughts were, if it is still good- like it sort of should be (my parents go married in 1980 I was born in 1981, and most of the wheat in my parent's house has 1983 written on it- I think they used their tax refund that year to buy a 30 year storage of wheat . So it is just over 30 years old, lets see if it is good, not like my mom is using it and rotating it. I might as well. I could even start to replace hers with some new wheat when I start buying it for my family.

The wheat she gave me was marked 1979..... it came from my grandma's house and when she passed away my parents added it to their storage. So I've been using 36 year old wheat.

What have I learned?
  1. That my mom was right- it is still usable. Not wonderful, but edible. And if we were all having to live off of a 30 year food storage supply, we would all live.
  2. It takes more than you would think, if the recipe normally uses 5 cups of wheat for the bread recipe it will take more like 7 cups to get the consistency of stickiness you are use to for letting it rise. This has other implications that you have to adjust to. I am not that good at making bread to tell you how to fix those. But it ends up really "flour" tasting. I have tried to add sugar and/or salt last minute and sometimes that seems to help.
  3. It makes great puffed wheat for breakfast -not wonderful, but it is one of the most edible ways to eat it.
  4. The gluten in whole wheat is harder to work with (because there is less gluten per ounce of flour) then white flour- but it is even worse with the expired wheat, the gluten might as well not be there. If I don't add any white flour I will get no rise from the gluten. I have started adding the white flour at first and getting it good and sticky and then adding the expired wheat flour.
  5. Works best for anything when you grind it and throw it in, if you grind a lot at once, the longer it sits (even a day) it starts to get an older taste to it.
  6. Actually it works really well as a thickener in a gravy mix. I normally use corn starch but it works surprisingly well. 
  7. It makes decent Swedish Pancakes and cracked wheat. Haven't made pitas but I wouldn't be surprised if it worked decent for that too.
  8. It can't make cookies for the life of it.- so in the Zombie apocalypse there will be no edible chocolate chip cookies. It is just a mess.  The batter runs and runs and never rises. 
  9. Kids don't seem to notice. I can make a pizza with the 30 year old wheat and one made with all fresh ground new flour and the kids eat both the same.
  10. It over cooks faster- you have to watch it more it seems to always be fully cooked faster.
  11. That when it comes down to it, we can all be grateful for our parents who stored it and kept is around because it is still food. 
  12. I look forward to using all the old stuff up quickly because I would love to get to the newer hasn't expired stuff soon than later.
  13. Once I have a supply, I will rotate it and use it.

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