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Bulk Grain – Where to Get it, How to Store it

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Bulk grains are a classic preparedness storage food because they have great shelf life. Whether you're buying quinoa, rice or other gluten free grains, or stocking up on wheat berries for delicious homemade bread, buying bulk grain is a great way to save money, too.

Typically, “bulk grains” refers to whole grains that have not been cracked or ground, but sometimes companies include flours and cereals. Food prices are only likely to increase, so stocking up your pantry now makes sense.

text "Bulk Grain - Where to Get it, How to Store it" with image of hands holding wheat berries

Where to Buy Bulk Grain

Nuts.com has bulk organic grains, legumes, granola, and many other dry goods. Many of their bulk items are available in one pound bags, so you can try a small amount first.

Country Life Natural Foods has a wide variety of bulk grains. Many of their grains come in 10, 25, or 50 pound bags, so you may want to split an order with friends. They have Bronze Chief red wheat berries and Prairie Gold white wheat berries.

Azure Standard has an 8.5% shipping charge, monthly drop offs at predetermined locations around the U.S. For orders shipped on Azure’s standard truck routes, a $5 handling fee is charged for orders under $50. They also stock fresh foods and other items.

Amazon.com does carry bulk grains, but their prices may be higher than other merchants. Compare pricing before you buy.

Web Restaurant Store caters to the food service market, but regular folks can still buy from them. Most bulk grain products come in 25 pounds bags.

You may also be able to find bulk food stores near you that carry grains and cereals. Mennonites and the Church of Latter Day Saints operate bulk food stores in many areas that are open to the general public. If you can find a local source you can skip shipping costs.

large bags of grain on a pallet

How to Store Bulk Grains

Grain and other dry goods keep best cool and dry, between 45 and 65 ℉, in tightly sealed containers. Keep your grains away from bright lights and heat sources.

We use Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers placed inside of 5 gallon plastic buckets. Mylar protects grains from oxygen and moisture, while the bucket protects grains from mice. Wheat berries stored this way will last up to 25 years.

You can also store bulk grains in #10 cans, or directly in plastic buckets. #10 cans provide a wheat berry shelf life up to 30 years. Even “airtight” plastic buckets allow some air in over time, but in cool, dry conditions, wheat berries in buckets may last up to 20 years.

For smaller quantities, I vacuum seal grains in five pound increments. No air = no bugs. Please do take steps to prevent infestation – it is not pleasant. I lost the first bulk grains that I ever purchased to weevils.

For storing bulk grains we recommend the following items:

If you plan on storing your grains in the garage or a shed, set your containers on boards so they won't be in direct contact with concrete or the ground.

bag of bulk grain

Keeping the Bugs Out of Your Food Storage

Sorry, but it's true: Almost all wheat has tiny insect eggs that – if left untreated – will eventually hatch into insects that will eat you out of your food supply.

When storing bulk grain and other dried foods, you will need to keep the oxygen out to keep the insects from growing.

Store your grain in airtight containers to keep the insects out, and take steps to kill the bugs already in your grain. There are several ways to kill insect eggs.

Oxygen Absorbers

Adding oxygen absorbers to your bulk food storage extends shelf-life, since oxygen leads to rancidity. No oxygen = no oxidation. Without oxygen, live insects, larva, and eggs will die.

Make sure to select the right size for your container.

  • 1 Quart Bag – 100cc oxygen absorber
  • 1 Gallon bags = 1-2 300 cc oxygen absorbers
  • 2 Gallon Bag = 2-500cc oxygen absorbers or 1-1000cc oxygen absorber
  • 5 gallon bags = 5-7 300cc oxygen absorbers or 1 2000cc oxygen absorber

Freeze It

When storing bulk grain, keeping it in your freezer will kill all the live insects. Unfortunately, it won't kill the eggs.

To get the eggs, too, freeze your wheat for 48 hours, and then leave it out at room temperature for 30 days. Then refreeze your wheat. This should kill any insects that have hatched since the last freeze.

Diatomaceous Earth

Food grade diatomaceous earth won't hurt people or animals who ingest it, but it shreds insect bellies. They die and shrivel up, leaving nothing but a little extra protein in your bulk grain.

This is a safe, simple and organic way to get rid of bugs when storing bulk grain. Diatomaceous earth is also used in small amounts by some people as an internal parasite cleanse.

For each 5-gallon container, put in one and one fourth cup of diatomaceous earth. Then seal the container and roll it around until the dust is evenly distributed.

Be careful not to breath the dust, as it can irritate your lungs and airways.

Dry Ice

Before storing bulk grain, first fill most of your 5-gallon container and place a section of a brown paper bag on the grain. On top of that, set one fourth of a pound of dry ice. Press the lid gently down on the container so that some of the air can escape.

When the dry ice has completely evaporated, remove the brown paper and seal the container. The carbon dioxide released from the dry ice should kill all animal life in the container.

Is bulk grain cheaper?

It is generally much less expensive to buy your grain in bulk and repack it yourself in food grade buckets. For extended storage, you want grain with a moisture content of 10% or less.

Most quality bulk food suppliers dry their grains properly for extended shelf life. (They don't want their products to go bad any more than you do.)

Freshly threshed “field grade” grain has a moisture content of 14-16%, and must be dried for longer storage.

Grinding Grain at Home

Grinding bulk grain for flour or grinding your own grits or cornmeal, requires a home grain mill.

People powered grain mills tend to be the least expensive. See “ Comparison of Manual Grain Mills” for a review of popular mill options.

Nutrimill is one of the top brands of powered grain mills. They currently have three different mills, the Classic, the Plus, and the Harvest.

I've had a Nutrimill Classic for over 10 years. It has stainless steel milling heads to create flour from a wide range of grains and beans, including dent corn.

The Nutrimill Plus is a little quieter and a little more compact for storage. (The entire unit packs into the flour out put canister.) The Harvest grain mill uses milling stones, and has the most compact footprint of the three.

Stocking Up Makes Sense

I originally wrote this back in 2011 after organizing a very large bulk grain order, directly from a mill. This is a great option if you have a large group that you can pull together for a grain buy, but it's a lot of work. (We ordered over 2000 pounds of grain.)

Whole grains store better than flour (especially whole grain flour), so bulk grain is the way to go if you want to stock up. Food prices keep creeping up (and sometimes leaping up), so long term food storage can be a good investment.

Originally published July 2011, last updated 2021.

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36 Comments

  1. lol, I enjoyed reading this Laurie ~ if I would read my emails more often, I probably would have ordered, unfortunately, I am a deleter!

    Glad you got things figured out and organized ~ looks like such a large task!

    Best,
    Kristie

  2. A long post, and a great heads up for the work that goes into arranging this type of order. I'm working on setting aside money in our food budget to do large orders. Your tips will be very helpful!

  3. Please, please, PLEASE check out my grain co-op!! i think i read in your bio that you are in Wisc. i have dealt with Country Life Natural Foods for a few years now and they are SO Amazing and honest, and ON TIME, and ordering from them is just a pure joy!!

    Please, just give them a call and talk to them about a drop point in your area, you will NOT be disappointed and the quality of their products is awesome!!

    Their website is http://www.clnf.org and the things that i personally order from them are:
    different rices, wheat berries (montana wheat), SAF yeast, gluten flour, vanilla, spices, Extra Virgin Olive Oil first cold pressing in a 3 ltr tin that is the BEST i have EVER had, nuts and dried fruits, granola, seeds (sesame, sunflower, and flax), and my gamma seal lids.

    i have tried other stuff and do order other stuff but those are my basics!

    if you want more information on how things work, please email me at gofftroop@gmail.com if you would like! 🙂

    Samantha

  4. Kristie – sorry you missed it. It'll probably be a while before I do it again, but I can give you a heads up if you like.

    Barb – long post, lots of effort put into this. It was definitely a learning experience!

    Samantha – There's a Country Life Natural Foods group that orders out of Manitowoc, which is about 20 minutes from where I'm at. I ordered a couple of things through friends who are closer – their dried pineapple is the BOMB! I'm already a part of two different local buying clubs, one for United Natural Foods (UNFI) and one for Frontier, so that's where I get most of my bulk products. That said, if I do decide to do another bulk grain order, I'll be sure to give Country Life a good look.

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. I admire you for your persistence! I would have been yanking my hair out…I guess you can use it as a learning experience:-)

  6. Patti – I was pulling my hair out for a bit, then I just took a really deep breath (or many…) and let go. Working the sorting and splits with good friends made the whole experience much more enjoyable.

  7. It is unfortunate that Laurie had a bad experience for her first order with Natural Way Mills. I know that during this time, they were going through employee changes and training – along with new rules from the freight companies that they have always used. As far as turning in a damage claim for $1.70…approximate cost of HRS for 5#, that would be silly. I have always had good experiences with them, and as far as getting an extra 50# of product for free…that is even better!

  8. "Anonymous" – you seem well acquainted with Natural Mills…

    I agree that $1.70 of lost product seems trivial – unless you're the customer who only ordered two items and had both of them arrived damaged. I know Melissa was wondering what happened to her wheat berries.

    I would suggest to Natural Mills that they add a FAQ section to their website. In this spot they could include information on minimum claim amounts. Accidents happen – we all know that. If a customer knows ahead of time that below a certain dollar amount no claim will be filed, then it's understood by both parties. Simple, effective, polite.

    The rudeness was what bothered me. I provided them with the information they requested and photographic proof of damage, and I never did hear back about it. It was like once the money was in hand, that was that.

    As for the 50# of free product – the free product was grits in Wisconsin. I couldn't give them away. I set aside a couple of pounds to try, and a few friends took a few more pounds, but the bulk of it will end up being organic chicken feed for a friend who feeds strictly organic. I am thankful I didn't get changed extra, but it was certainly no great windfall.

    Also, it was rather inconvenient to do a rush repack for the person who only ordered 25 pounds of each. She had hoped to do a quick pickup because she had a van full of kids and limited time, and instead she ended up waiting as Tami and I scrambled to repack only 25 pounds of each.

    It was a learning experience, and it wasn't all bad. Working with my friends was great!

  9. Oh my gosh what a pain Laurie – this is why I only deal with the farmers. These middlemen don’t care about you. I also want to urge you to use caution around DE – it is so fine it easily gets into the lungs and causes damage. If you are storing grains in an air/water tight container you don’t need it. Also you may have mentioned this but bay leaves are a natural dessicant. I throw a few in each 5 gallon bucket. Works like a charm. xo!

    1. Annette – thanks for mentioning the caution about DE. I don’t personally use it, but it is commonly recommended as an option. I’ve seen the bay leaves recommended, too, but most sources indicate they are generally less reliable than other options. My understanding was that they acted more as a bug deterrent than a desiccant, but perhaps I was mistaken. Either way, the first line of defense is to find clean product if possible, and keep it tightly sealed.

  10. This is a great article. Thanks for the details. It should help if we ever decide to do a bulk order for anyone but ourselves. What a lot of work you went through.

    1. I think if I new the potential problems to look for ahead of time, it would have gone much more smoothly. Hopefully others who are interested in doing this will learn from my mistakes and have an easier time of it. Natural Way Mills was also in transition at the time of the order, so I think I may have ended up with the “perfect storm”.

  11. I ONLY order my grains once a month through http://www.azurestand.com and I have NEVER had to go through all the hassle you have experienced, never. There are no shipping costs and they drop at a predetermined location where we all meet to pick up our own items that we order via their website.
    I LOVE Azure Standard, they have made ordering bulk SO easy!! Check them out, you will be so glad you did.

    GrammaBear

  12. Thanks for a great post! Not only did you put a great deal of thought, time and energy into this project, but you also did the same to post about your experience. Because of you , I have a much better perspective on the do’s and don’ts! I have been mulling this very idea over for at least a year and was a bit overwhelmed as I had no idea how to go about such a task. Now that you have given me quite a bit of wisdom on this project, I am definitely going to go ahead and organize a community bulk buying event.

    God Bless

  13. I order from Honeyville Grain. No matter how much you order, the shipping is always less than $5.00. Periodically, they have discounts which you get if you subscribe to the email notices. Never had a problem with the shipping and they ship via UPS. You can order anytime and not worry about trying to coordinate a mass order. I wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with all the people you had involved. That was worse than trying to deliver Girl Scout cookies!

  14. I realize that this is an old post and you may know about this company already — I am guessing that you still order some things in bulk given the state of things at present! You may want to check out Azure Standard (azurestandard.com) They recently added a route to the Atlanta area and deliveries have been a breeze. They ship only through Covenant Ranch Trucking which is a family owned and operated trucking company and they are wonderful! Not only do we receive an email when the order leaves the warehouse, the driver sends text updates along the way. I am the coordinator for a group of about 75 families of which 45 participate monthly. They also give the Drop Coordinators a Gratitude credit which usually covers my monthly order.

    Also, if Azure does not have a route near you, you can request and in September they review all requests! The folks that bug them the most get put on delivery route. Just thought you would like to know. Stay well and prepared!

    1. Hi Maryanne! Yes, I still order in bulk, although not typically this bulk. Azure just added a route through our area last fall. I’m also a member of an UNFI buying club that gets deliveries just five minutes from here (the Azure drop point is about 30 minutes away, and the roads have been bad this winter). We just had a Costco open recently, too. Lots more buying options available now.

  15. We recommend you stop eating grain – Now Our healthy family family of 5 gave away grain food over 2 years ago. Wheat (not the wheat as in the bible but the wheat modified by the Rockefeller Institute in the mid 60’s to ‘provide food for the planet’ *note 1/3 of the worlds food is thrown away) On of the side benefits with becoming wheat free was that our then 12 year old daughter had a serious ‘allergy to all hazelnut products…within a period of 3 weeks she accidentally ate something containing this product, waited for the throat itch and difficulty in breathing…nothing happened..That day we bought some hazelnuts to test her reaction….GONE!!!
    We recommend reading the books ‘Wheat Belly’by Dr.William Davis, and Grain Brain….Renowned neurologist Dr David Perlmutter, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: gluten and carbs are destroying your brain. Look up Dr William Davis on Youtube…He’s a great speaker and makes it just easy to understand. We share this in love and in the spirit of Ubuntu. From Australia

  16. As an update on Azure Standard:

    They DO charge a shipping fee of 8.5% for items shipped on the truck.

    It IS worth every penny! Our orders are nearly always correct (and in the very rare instance they are not, customer service is always so kind to make it right!). It isn’t just HUGE bulk. Want a 50lb bag of oats? Or maybe only 5lb? Yes to both! You can order cases of goods or just one to try. They have a huge variety of everything and don’t sell GMO! It isn’t just food either. They sell chicken feed, garden supplies, and much more.

    No, I don’t work for them. I’m not being compensated for my very honest opinion. I’m simply a satisfied customer who has used them for over 5 years. If they don’t have a route in your area, ask to be be notified when they do.

    1. Thanks for the update. I have modified the post accordingly. I have a friend who orders regularly through Azure, but I haven’t asked he to get anything for me recently. Another nice thing about Azure is that they carry fresh organic produce, which the others do not.

  17. Hi Laurie

    On the DE how would you take it DE ratio to water ?
    I enjoy your articles and appreciate you sharing you experience with the world. ?

    1. Hi Joyce.

      I’m not sure I understand the question. There’s no water mixed with the DE. You simply add one and one fourth cup of diatomaceous earth into each 5 gallon container of grain.

      Fill bucket with grain, add DE to top, seal and roll around a bit to distribute the DE in the grain.

      Sorry for any confusion, and thank you for your kind words.

  18. Hi Laurie
    I meant for human cleansing ?
    How would you make it to drink it.
    Sorry for my confusing questions. ?
    Joyce

    1. Ah, okay. It’s been a long few days and my brain didn’t make the connection.

      I haven’t tried a DE parasite cleanse, but Kelsey from Green Willow Homestead has an article on it called “How To Use Diatomaceous Earth As A Parasite Cleanse For Humans, Pets, And Livestock“.

      She says:

      Start out with 1 tsp mixed into 8 oz of water. Drink this either 1 hour before a meal or two hours after a meal. The goal is to have an empty stomach. Repeat this every day for ten days and increase your amount of DE slowly up to 2 tsp if you like. Once you hit ten days, take a break for seven days, and then repeat again for 10 days. You may see some interesting stools being passed. Just a warning!

      There are a few side effects you may experience when doing a parasite cleanse with DE.

      The first is some constipation, but drinking an extra glass of water after you DE drink can help with this.

      Then, due to the parasite die-off, you can experience headaches, malaise, brain fog, and trouble sleeping. These side effects appear because when parasites die and detach from your intentional lining, they can release ammonia and nitrogen into your system. To help with this you can take L-Ornithine supplements to absorb and safely excrete the excess ammonia and nitrogen through your urine (L-Ornithine plays an essential role in the urea cycle). Take up to 1500 mg ( three capsules) before bed, depending on the severity of your side effects.

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