Upping the Nutritional Value of My Food Storage With Chia Seed
UPDATE: I opened the first of my frozen seed this week. See how it turned out below!
I have another bulk buy purchase going right now, and I must confess I bought this batch of chia seed not knowing how to use it. I heard chia was good for you and I’m trying to up our food storage game. I bought 55 lbs of chia seed for .30 cents an ounce. That’s at least half the price in the store or online.
Since chia seeds store for up to 5 years, we need to eat 1 pound a month, or learn some chia seed storage methods to extend the time.
Chia seeds are said to have:
-2 times the protein of any other seed or grain
-5 times the calcium of milk, plus boron which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones
-2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
-3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries
-3 times more iron than spinach
Plus, abundant amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids… Chia seeds are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fiber. Courtesy of rawreform.com
Like flax, chia is highly ‘hydrophilic’ – the seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. They can hold 9-12 times their weight in water and they absorb it very rapidly – in under 10 minutes.
Nutritionists recommend that one tablespoon of chia is consumed each day. Be sure to drink plenty of water as chia is very high in fiber. We’ve been very “regular” since having our 1 tsp of chia a day!
Use these four chia seed storage methods as part of your plan to up the nutritional value of your food storage.
Chia Seed in the Pantry
Put some chia seed in the pantry to use every day. I don’t know about you, but in my house when we are trying to incorporate a new food into our diet, we have to keep it front and center or we will forget about using it. Store chia seeds in a glass or plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. The antioxidants in the chia seeds allow them to be stored for months in a dark, cool place, like your cupboard.
I have a daily use –on the counter jar, and another in the pantry to rotate in next. I think I have about 5 pounds in my pantry right now.
Keep ground chia seeds (chia flour) in a glass or plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. The flour may be stored in a cool, dry place such as a pantry, or in the refrigerator. Chia flour, like chia seeds, may be stored for months without going rancid.
We’ve been adding a teaspoon of dry seeds in our water bottle before heading out the door and I’m doing my best to drink it with my water all day. I do this several times a day to get in my one tablespoon per day goal. It is very filling and I find it refreshing, especially if I make some ahead and take it cold out of the fridge.
Chia Seed in the Refrigerator
In addition to chia seed and chia flour, you can make chia gel by adding 2 tablespoons of chia seed to 8 ounces of water. Add the seeds to the water or you will get a gel clump in the bottom of your glass. Stir, let it sit for 15 minutes, then stir again and refrigerate it in a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The gel will last about two weeks under refrigeration.
Extended Chia Seed Storage (1-5 years)
The next thing I did was put approximately 35 pounds of seed in plastic gallon zip bags. I removed as much air as I could from each bag and then I placed them into a 5 gal bucket. Chia seed will last up to 5 years, if it is stored in a cool, dry place. This is my “use next” batch, so after I have used up the 5 pounds in the pantry, I can remove a 1 gallon bag, rotate it into my daily pantry, and re-seal the bucket.
I did not add any oxygen absorbers to the bucket (like I would if I was putting up food for long term) because I expect to use this within the 5 year time frame. I can always add some or go to 1 gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers if I find that we aren’t using it like I thought we would. I did put a dusting of food grade diatomaceous earth on the top to kill any bugs that may have been in there.
Long Term Chia Storage (5-10 years)
The final 15 pounds of seed went into the freezer and will be used last. I decided to use my FoodSaver and remove the air from each package. I couldn’t find any information online about how to freeze chia seed – only that it was possible – and that it would double the shelf storage live up to 10 years.
I’ve used my best judgment and looked at the way other grains and seeds are frozen. Colorado State University Extension recommends the following:
Conditions essential to good seed storage are just the opposite of those required for good germination. Good germination occurs when water and oxygen are present at a favorable temperature. Good seed storage results when seeds are kept dry (below 8 percent moisture) and the temperature is kept low (below 40 degrees).
I removed the air because I did not want ice crystals to form inside the package. Once I bring it out to thaw I want intact seeds, not a bag of chia gel! I tried my theory by defrosting a 1 lb package and it worked perfectly. The seeds did not turn into chia gel after the thaw.
UPDATE: January 2015. This past fall we moved 2300 miles from Oregon to Texas and I brought my frozen chia seed with me. I’m happy to report that it did not thaw during the drive and freezing it was a HUGH success.
This week I opened the first of the 15 pounds I have in the freezer and placed it into a big bowl. I did that because I was afraid that there would be condensation in the bag as it was adjusting to room temperature. I just wanted to be sure that the chia seed doesn’t gel before I’m ready!
There have been no problems with the seed at all . It thawed with no visible change in the seed- and we are still using it daily.
Here’s a Chia Fresca recipe to enjoy!
What is your favorite way to use chia seed? Do you have a different way to store it? Share your ideas below.