Quinoa in your Short Term Food Storage
I love quinoa (KEEN-wah) it is such a versatile and good for you grain. It’s a great addition to your food storage. I usually buy it from Costco in 4 lb. bags, but I like to cook it in batches and freeze it, so we go through those small bags fairly quick. I recently was able to get in on a big group buy and now I have 50 lbs. of quinoa in my house.
I figured I better learn how to properly store quinoa in my food storage and do it right so it isn’t wasted. Storing it properly couldn’t be easier.
Why you should have quinoa in your food storage
Quinoa is a nutritious whole grain substitute for rice and is simple to prepare. It is gluten free and has a low glycemic index. It is a complete protein, containing eight essential amino acids.
Quinoa is good for your health and a food of choice for anyone who wants a nutrient-packed superfood. It makes a fabulous addition to your short term food storage.
“Appreciated for its high, complete protein content, which ranges from 12 to 18 percent, gluten-free, low-calorie quinoa is also highly digestible. Unlike some grains, quinoa supplies a high amount of lysine and provides an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. It also provides a variety of nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin E, all eight amino acids, calcium (mentioned earlier), manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, potassium, tryptophan, zinc, copper and phosphorous. Incidentally, the high levels of manganese and copper in quinoa act as co-factors for producing superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant that protects the mitochondria of the cells from free radical damage.”
Washed but NOT Polished Quinoa Food Storage–
The quinoa seed has a bitter coating that helps to keep it fresh and deter birds. This bitter saponin needs to be washed before you consume it or you will have a nasty surprise. Most quinoa in the USA is already washed or polished before it is available for sale. To maintain the whole grain goodness, you should look for washed quinoa though, polishing takes off the good whole grain fiber.
Here is the washing process. It is washed in a 3-step operation that thoroughly cleans the bitter saponin from the quinoa without removing any of the vital nutrients. It is then dried to a specific humidity and is ready to eat with no further rinsing. All other quinoa that is grown in Peru and Bolivia is mechanically polished by abrasion to take off the saponin. This produces a saponin powder that is used as an emulsifier in the pharmaceutical industry.
The leftover quinoa is then sold as the grain quinoa; but is not a whole grain. The polishing makes it a refined grain like white rice, white flour, or pearled barley. It is lower in protein, vitamins, and minerals and has half the dietary fiber as whole grain quinoa.
How long – and in what container- can you safely store quinoa?
Quinoa seed is considered one of the soft grains. These have softer outer shells which don’t protect the seed interior as well as hard shelled seeds and therefore won’t store as long. It should be used for short term food storage.
If you seal it in a #10 can, or Mylar bag, with an oxygen absorber, at or below 70 degrees, you can plan on a storage life of at least 8 years. Quinoa should keep longer if stored at cooler temperatures.
You can also experiment with PETE bottles. Find directions in our post Day 27 – Dry Pack Canning
If you have the room and want to have it available in smaller portion sizes, you can store your quinoa in Mason jars with oxygen absorbers.
Other soft grains are Barley, Hulled or Pearled Oat Groats, Rolled Oats and Rye. The Provident Living website says that rolled oats can be stored for up to 30 years if properly packaged. I think my 8 years for storing quinoa is on the conservative side.
I asked my county extension office their opinion about the length of time I can save quinoa in food storage and here is the response:
It sounds like you are doing as good a job as possible on storing your quinoa for the long haul. The less exposure to heat, light and air, the slower it will deteriorate. The vitamin E content is supposed to help preserve it, as is the protective coat of the unwashed quinoa.
Keep in mind that if you are storing it for planting as seed, germination rates and germination times go down over time, no matter how well you store seeds. The best way to keep germination high is to plant what you have stored every few years, harvest it and restart your storage.
For keeping quinoa as food, I have seen one manufacturer claim their product stores for 20 years. I don’t know if they have been in business long enough to verify that claim, but your 8 year mark would be reasonable in that light. Again, the chemical composition of quinoa is supposed to help it store well, as people claim it does not get an off taste over time because of the nature of the oils in it. As with storing it for seed, you may wish to rotate your storage after a few years just so you don’t get an unwelcome surprise.
The way we eat quinoa, I’m pretty certain we will use that 50 lbs. in eight years! Tell us your quinoa food storage successes and share favorite recipes on our Facebook page.