In BabyStep 5: Grains we give you a list of grains which can/should be part of your long term food storage. Jodi started her grain storage with cornmeal because she didn’t have a wheat grinder yet and it seemed easy and non-intimidating, although she now prefers to store regular popping corn and grind it into fresh cornmeal. Here is a little more info on cornmeal and popping corn to help you decide if it’s a grain you want to include in your food storage.
Types of Cornmeal:
Steel ground: The most common type of cornmeal, it has the husk and germ almost all removed. Because of this, steel ground cornmeal has less flavor and nutrients but does have a very long shelf life. This is the type you will typically find at the grocery store.
Stone ground: This type of cornmeal retains more of the husk and germ but because of this it is more perishable than steel ground.
Cornmeal can be found in white, yellow, red, and blue varieties. Yellow and white are the most common.
Types of Corn:
The basic types of dried corn used for food storage are: flint, dent, and popcorn. All can be used fairly interchangeably but flint is a little better for cornmeal, dent is better for corn masa, and popcorn is the most versatile since it can be popped for a snack OR ground into meal or flour. Corn can also be found in white, yellow, red, and blue. Yellow corn is often recommended over white corn since white corn does not contain carotene (which converts into vitamin A). Yellow dent corn is very common at food storage stores, but popping corn can easily be found at any grocery store.
Corn/Cornmeal Shelf Life:
Cornmeal: Between 6 and 18 months. Store in a cool dry place to help prolong this.
Corn: 8 years or more if stored in a sealed airtight container with an oxygen absorber.
Dried corn can be used as a vegetable in stews, popped into popcorn, or ground into flour or cornmeal. Corn flour is most commonly used to make corn masa which is a dough used to make tortillas. Cornmeal (fresh ground or store bought) can be used to make delicious cornbread or corn cakes. It can also be made into hominy or grits.
We recommend starting by purchasing a small amount of cornmeal and try some food storage recipes out and see if your family likes eating those foods. If it turns out to be something you really like, then we highly recommend storing a lot of popcorn and grinding it fresh which helps with flavor and gives you more nutrients. If you don’t have a wheat grinder available to you, try to buy cornmeal in good sealed containers such as #10 cans to help prolong the shelf life.
-Jodi Weiss Schroeder