Ok, we have spent the last couple of weeks discussing grains and legumes. Now we have to discuss the moisture content of the grains and legumes you want to add to your food storage and home storage. The moisture levels have a major impact on the grain’s & legume’s shelf life, nutritional value, and edibility.
As with most people, I had no idea that the moisture level of my grains and legumes was important. So with a confused look on my face, I began researching what it is and why it is an important part of my food storage.
I have found from others that there are 3 common ways to tell what the moisture levels are. Two of the ways are more complex & time consuming; but deliver more precise results, while one way is a quick, rough way to give you a close enough moisture level.
Is a quick way to determine moisture level and requires nothing more than crushing a kernel of grain or a bean between two solid objects like a hammer and a brick. Any seed with a high fat content such as; soybeans, peanuts, etc. will not work well with this method.
If the grain shatters into a powdery debris or many small bits then the moisture level ought to be in the right range and you can add to your food storage and store as-is.
If the kernel mashes flat or only reluctantly breaks into pieces, it means it probably has too much moisture in it.
For this method you will need the following equipment;
Scale, Thermometer, Oven, Time, Container with tight fitting cover.
This method is possible to do at home, to give us a fairly accurate moisture level. You need an accurate scale to weigh the grain or legumes. Your thermometer needs to be able to accurately measure oven temperatures. Your over the counter oven thermometers are not as reliable and accurate so you should purchase a decent thermometer. Most kitchen supply stores can supply one that is oven safe and will accurately measure to the degree Fahrenheit or Celsius.
To do this method properly you need to preheat your oven for 1/2 hour, so your oven’s temperature is even. Place your pan on the middle rack, making sure your pan is in in the center of your oven both vertically and horizontally. Place you thermometer next to the pan.
For this method we will be using 20 ounces of our grains or legumes.
Step 1–Choose your shallow heat resistant container. Clean it thoroughly and dry it completely in your oven for 10-15 minutes. Allow it to cool.
Step 2–Weigh container carefully. This will give you the tare weight or what your container weighs empty.
Step 3–Measure out a weighed 20 ounces of your grain or legumes. Mix your grains or legumes thoroughly before taking your 20 ounces.
Step 4–Place your 20 oz into your container making sure that your grains or legumes are no more than 1 inch deep.
Step 5–Place your container into the oven with the lid off and allow to heat. Using the table below set your oven’s temperature & time for heating your grain or legume.
Time and Temperature Settings for Determining Moisture Contents of Whole Seeds
|Grain/Legume Seed||Oven Temperature °Fahrenheit||Oven Temperature °Celsius||Oven Heating Time Minutes|
|Sorghum & Millet||266||130||18|
|Soybeans & Peanuts||217||130||72|
|Wheat & Rice||266||130||19|
Since most ovens are not precise, try keeping your temperature within 10 degrees of what is listed.
Step 6–After the allotted time has passed, place the lid onto your pan and allow to cool in the oven with the door shut.
Step 7–Once cooled, remove and carefully weigh the pan.
To determine the moisture level of your grain or legume use the following formula.
1 oz loss of weight = 5 % moister level
2 oz loss of weight = 10% moisture level
3 oz loss of weight = 15% moisture level
This method uses the same equipment as method 2, but needs a Grain Mill. This method take your grain to a meal consistency.
Step 1–Grind a quantity of your grain that you want to measure the moisture content. Grind slowly so friction heat up remains minimal. Meal should not be more than mildly warm or else moisture will be lost due to heat evaporation before it can be weighed.
Step 2–Immediately upon completion of grinding weigh out your meal.
Step 3–Place ground meal into container.
Step 4–Place container in the oven and dehydrate for a period of two hours at 275º F (135ºC).
Step 5–When the heating period is completed, cover with the lid and allow to cool in the oven.
Step 6–When cooled, remove and weigh carefully.
To determine the moisture level use the scale above.
Well now that we know about the moisture levels in our grains and legumes, we need to know what the highest % level is that we can store safely. The suggested percentage levels are 10% or lower for food storage. It is also said that you can safely store items with a 13% moisture level, but you need to be careful as at 13.5% is where bacteria and fungus start to grow.