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Cornmeal is considered a staple food, rich in carbohydrates and vitamins, making it an important prepping food. Long-term storage has a different meaning for different people, but we will explain how long cornmeal can be stored in several ways and the best cornmeal to store for prepping.
Bolted cornmeal lasts 6 to 12 months in cool, dry storage. The best methods for long-term storage are freezing in vacuum-sealed bags, which lasts indefinitely, or in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers to reduce oxygen to prevent the cornmeal from spoiling for 5 to 10-years.
Cornmeal may be a good quality staple food, but it is crucial to store the food correctly to maximize the longevity of the cornmeal in storage. Cornmeal storage can be extended by modifying your storage method and choosing the cornmeal with the longest shelf-life!
Cornmeal Long Term Storage for Food Security
Long-term storage has a different meaning for many people. For some, 6-months is long-term storage, while 5-years or more is considered long-term storage for others.
Cornmeal is a staple food because of the number of nutrients, vitamins, and energy-giving properties it contains. This makes cornmeal an important food for preppers or anyone concerned about food security to consider storing for future use.
Fortunately, you can store cornmeal for a long time if stored in the correct way and the correct format.
Cornmeal is made from yellow corn or maize that has been coarse-ground to produce cornmeal. Corn can be ground to different levels of coarseness for different products.
Whole corn kernels can be coarse ground to make polenta, a slightly finer grind to make cornmeal, and an even finer grind to make corn flour.
The grind coarseness can affect the longevity of the corn, which is what we will investigate next.
Cornmeal With the Longest Storage Life
There are effectively only two types of cornmeal; bolted and unbolted. Bolted cornmeal is also sometimes called degerminated cornmeal, which means that the husk and germ part of the corn kernel have been removed from the cornmeal.
The removal of the kernel’s husk and germ helps improve the longevity of the cornmeal. The husk and the germ components contain the highest concentration of oils. These oils turn rancid when the cornmeal is stored for long periods, causing the cornmeal to spoil.
Bolted cornmeal in its store packaging will last between 6-months to a year, which is a decent long-term option for many prepping solutions.
Unbolted cornmeal, which is also called water-ground or stone-ground corn, is a healthier option, but the germ and husk are not removed, which retains the oils in the cornmeal. The oils in this type of cornmeal will go rancid over a short period, limiting the viability of this type of cornmeal to a maximum of 6-months.
The majority of the cornmeal sold in grocery stores is the bolted variety because it extends the cornmeal storage life on the shelf. It is still worth checking the label information of the cornmeal you buy to ensure you are getting the product you expect.
What Cornmeal Grind Is Best for Long-Term Storage?
The grind of the cornmeal will influence its storage capability, mostly due to the presence of oils and moisture in the coarser grinds.
The following list gives you the longevity of the cornmeal by grind coarseness.
- Whole kernels. Whole kernels have the shortest storage life due to the oil content on the whole seed. Typically 2 to 3 months would be the upper limits for this type of corn storage.
- Coarse ground cornmeal. Coarse ground cornmeal, often used for grits, has the second shortest shelf-life because the germ and husk are present on the grind, and the moisture content is higher. Grits-style corn will typically last 3 to 4 months in storage before spoiling.
- Medium grind cornmeal. This level of grind is typically used for polenta and will last longer than coarse ground or whole corn kernels. You can expect a shelf life of 4 to 6-months for polenta.
- Fine grind cornmeal. Fine ground corn is what is typically known as cornmeal and has a lower moisture content, and the husk and germ have been removed. This extends the shelf life to between 6 months to a year.
- Ultra-fine cornmeal. Extra fine cornmeal is known as corn flour and is often used to make baked goods. The moisture content in the finely ground corn flour and the lower oil content makes this the longest-lasting cornmeal grind. Corn flour can last 1 to 2 years in storage.
How To Extend Cornmeal Long Term Storage
Storing cornmeal for 6-months to a year may not be long-term enough for some food storage applications, so how can you extend the cornmeal long-term storage timeframe?
We have some ideas to help you store your cornmeal for longer and extend your cornmeal storage life.
Freezing To Extend Cornmeal Storage Life
If you have a freezer at home and the electricity to power the freezer, then you have the means to store cornmeal as long as you like or as long as you have electricity.
The risks for this method are if the freezer loses power and the cornmeal defrosts. The defrosting causes moisture to develop inside the plastic bag, which will cause mold to develop in the cornmeal.
Cornmeal is often stored in a freezer in ziplock plastic bags, but the better freezer storage method is in vacuum bags where all the air is removed before freezing. This process eliminates the risk of moisture developing in the bag when the cornmeal defrosts and prevents mold development.
You will, of course, need to have a vacuum sealer to vacuum-seal your cornmeal, but as a seasoned prepper, you should have this useful packaging tool.
Avoid storing the cornmeal in plastic containers in the freezer since the moisture development during defrosting will require the entire batch of cornmeal to be used in one go to avoid mold.
Freezing is not always a practical prepping solution for long-term food storage, so let’s look at some other methods to extend the long-term cornmeal storage.
Airtight Containers for Extending Cornmeal Storage
Airtight and moisture-tight containers (on Amazon) that prevent the exchange of air and humidity from the atmosphere to the inside of the container are useful for cornmeal storage.
The use of these containers can extend the shelf life of your cornmeal to between 1 and 2 years. The best containers to use are dark containers that also limit light access to the cornmeal, which helps extend the lifespan.
Store the cornmeal in these containers in a cool, dark, dry location, such as a pantry, away from any water heaters or hot water plumbing. If you have space in your fridge, this is a good place to store these containers of cornmeal.
Using Oxygen Absorbers to Extend Cornmeal Storage
Oxygen absorbers (on Amazon) are designed to extract the oxygen from a container to reduce the reaction of the food in the container with oxygen in the air.
The oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the oil and moisture in the cornmeal and causes it to spoil sooner. Removing the oxygen by using an oxygen absorber can extend your cornmeal storage to between 5 and 10-years.
Oxygen absorbers can be used when storing cornmeal in mason jars or airtight plastic containers, but they work the best when used with mylar bags to store your food.
What To Check When Buying Cornmeal
When you go to the store to buy cornmeal, there are some characteristics you should look out for that will help extend the life of the cornmeal when you store it long term.
- Best before date. Ensure the packet of cornmeal has the longest future “best before date” as possible, so you have the freshest batch possible.
- Buy bolted for longer storage. Unbolted cornmeal is healthier and more nutritious, but it does not last as long as bolted cornmeal. Buy bolted cornmeal for longer storage and unbolted cornmeal for stock you will use within 6-months.
- Low-fat content. Read the nutrient label on the back of the packaging. The lower the fat content, the longer the cornmeal will last in storage.
Cornmeal does not last for a long time compared to some other long-term food storage options, but it offers a filling and nutritious meal. Finding ways to extend the cornmeal storage life will help you to prep better and provide a greater food variety in your long-term storage.
The nutrient value of cornmeal makes it worth the effort to take the extra measures to store your cornmeal for many years to provide food security for your family.
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