Everyone knows that storing wheat is a good idea. However, those with various forms of gluten intolerance, and also others who benefit from gluten free diets currently, simply cannot go back to consuming gluten post-SHTF. The effect could be devastating in the resulting society.
If you have unlimited monetary resources, then prepping for storage of gluten free foods is not a problem, anyone can go to the store and purchase plenty of those expensive mixes they sell at the store. But what if you don’t? Or, worse yet, what if you run out of those expensive mixes in a long-term crunch? Will you know how to make your food from scratch? Will you be prepared?
While supplementing your storage with the gluten free mixes found at many stores is do able, we need a more practical system. I will go over grains in a moment, but here are a few items you will need to store that are critical for any kind of bread making:
Xantham gum – as long as this item is kept dry, it has a shelf life of several years. Be sure to get the finer powder, the courser xantham gum doesn’t seem to work as well. Also, while I’m in the preliminary stages of learning gluten free ways, it seems that xantham gum is more suited to bread items like loaves and pizza dough.
Guar gum – this item is best suited to things like pastry creams, and less acidic items. Guar gum begins to break down at higher temperatures, and also loses some of it’s thickening ability when added to recipes with high acidity. Many recipes suggest combining both gums for a better result. Manufacturers recommend that it keeps for 1-to-2 years.
Dehydrated Eggs – Widely found and I suggest you purchase the nitrogen-packed varieties. Manufacturers claim a shelf life of 27+ years unopened. Eggs, they claim, are good for 8-10 months after being opened.
Dehydrated Egg Whites – see above.
These are the binders in any gluten free equation. They perform the task generally done by gluten. Some people who are gluten free do not use xantham gum and guar gum, it’s a matter of finding recipes that work for you and your personal preferences (and dietary needs!). I have found that the gluten free community is often more educated about food, and even sometimes scratch cooking, than the rest of society. This knowledge will be invaluable in both your storage techniques and long term survival. I have read some on the topic of substituting ground flax for the gums – this could be an even more long term option with the right research. Obviously, the gums are not an entirely sustainable option, so I will be doing more research on sustainable substitutes for long term and once educated I will share the information.
Starches are equally important for gluten free baked goods. Consider storing potato, tapioca and corn starches in air tight containers in a cool area. Also, if you are accustomed to using the store bought gluten free dough enhancers, vinegar is a much cheaper alternative – and useful in countless other ways.
White and Brown rice – both gluten free, and both can be ground into flour. You can consume these prepared whole obviously, or used in a bread recipe. Please note once ground into flour, the shelf life is drastically reduced, and best used quickly. The flour of these grains can go rancid within a few months.
Beans – beans are a great item to store easily, and can also be ground into flour for various recipes. An added bonus, bean flours keep relatively well at room temperature.
Oats – please be careful when purchasing oats. Some gluten intolerant have issue with oats, and this is currently thought to be because oats and wheat are often processed in the same facility. Know what facility your oats are coming from and what else the company processes. Oat flour can also be widely used in recipes.
Corn – dehydrated corn kernels have a long shelf life, and can be ground into polenta, cornmeal, and used whole in a variety of ways. I suggest buying organic corn personally, as much of the corn we see otherwise is a genetically modified version which is less nutritious,in my opinion.
Sorghum – this is an incredibly interesting and widely unknown cereal grain. Sorghum grains can be boiled like rice, made into gruel or porridges, ground into flours, popped like popcorn (!!), it can even be used to make non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Sorghum is also a very efficient, drought tolerant and even water logging tolerant crop. This grain can also keep for years when appropriately stored.
Millet – it is suggested that millet can be kept for 8 to 12 years. Can be mashed with potatoes (has valuable protein), can be made into cakes, toasted and boiled like rice and eaten warm or made into a salad, ground into flour and used in pancakes, bread etc.
Buckwheat – can be stored for 15 years. Buckwheat can be prepared in a pilaf style, however, the grains (kasha is another name you will come across) often stick together and form a mush, to stop this from happening, either coat your grains with egg before preparing (cook in a dry pan briefly), or toast in a non-stick (read: well seasoned cast iron) pan for a couple minutes before. The mush, however, is great for cereal/porridge, consider adding peanut butter for protein or spices and dried fruit. You can also add buckwheat to soups or stews as you would barley, make a salad from the cooked buckwheat, or grind it into flour for breads, pancakes waffles, etc.
My recommendations here are just the beginning. Look around the Internet and you’ll find there’s numerous other grains, find the ones you like that can store well (quinoa for instance, does not keep for very long), and learn how to cook them.
A note on milling flours: If you plan on also milling wheat barley, or any other gluten present grain, it is advisable to have a separate gluten free mill. The risk of contamination is high, even when thoroughly cleaned, and depending upon a persons individual reaction to gluten, someone could become very sick.
The most important storage preparation of all, of course, is to know how to use what you’ve stored! There may be no Internet and no local library, WTSHTF so take some time to experiment with recipes until you have a few solid standbys. Keep these with your food storage. Having a couple bread, pancake, porridge, waffle, maybe even a muffin recipe, that is tried and tested, will be invaluable.
JWR Adds: Also see the SurvivalBlog archives for some other gluten-free alternatives, such as Quinoa. Just type the word “gluten” in the blog’s Search box at the top of the right-hand bar.