Eating Uncooked Grains
I have a food-storage noobie question.
I just bought a bunch of grains and beans in long-term storage buckets from Emergency Essentials, along with a hand grinder. My question is this: if the power is out and I don’t want to waste camp stove fuel, can you mix ground wheat or ground beans with water and eat them uncooked? Is that going to wreak holy hell on our digestive systems?
I remember as a kid I worked for a farmer, and when I got hungry before lunch, I would often dip into the wheat bin and pop a handful into my mouth, with no ill effects.
You could probably get away with it for a while will not too much ill-effect. The real problem, with grains at least, is that human digestive systems aren’t equipped to breakdown high cellulose food stuff, which is why we cook it to breakdown the cellulose. So, even if it doesn’t make you sick or give you the trots, you’re likely not getting the full nutritional value of the uncooked grains (and beans to a lesser extent) because the nutritients are bound to the cellulose and inaccessible. It would keep you from starving in the short term, but you wouldn’t be getting the full benefit… and may suffer malnutrition issues if you continued it long term.
I wouldn’t advise it. Uncooked beans will definitely "wreak holy hell". Kidney beans are toxic when uncooked. The only legume I know of that is safe to eat raw is peas.
If you sprout beans, they go through chemical changes which makes them digestable, but you’d have to know about a power outage a fews days in advance or be sprouting beans on a regular basis (a good idea anyway) to have any ready to eat sprouts during a blackout.
Small amounts of rice or wheat won’t hurt you – some people do as you did as a kid and nibble on grains – but as a meal, even if you soak them over night they will be hard to digest due to the enzyme inhibitors they contain.
Instead, I’d recommend either planning on using some of your cooking fuel or keeping some canned (ie pre cooked) foods on hand. When I cook pea soup, chili, and so on, I make a large batch and put some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer (cooked rice as well). In the refrigerator they last a few days, in the freezer a couple of weeks. It could be eaten unheated, but it takes very little time (fuel) to warm up. So much more appetizing.
I also use a pressuse cooker for cooking beans or rice which greatly helps to cut down on the cooking time.
I’d suggest using a Thermos to cook the wheat or beans. It’s very energy efficient since you just have to bring the water up to the boiling point before you pour it into the thermos along with the wheat berries or beans (after you soak the beans overnight).
Here’s a sample recipe:
- 1 thermos
- 1 cup whole wheat berries
- 2 cups boiling water
First preheat the thermos by filling it
with your hottest tap water. Place the lid
on it loosely and allow it to sit while you
do the rest of the work. Meanwhile bring
2-cups of water to a boil. When the water
boils, dump the tap water out of the
thermos. Immediately pour the boiling water
into the thermos. Pour the wheat berries
into the thermos along with the boiling
water. Try to work quickly so the water
doesn’t lose too much of it’s heat. Screw
the lid tightly onto the thermos. Now allow
the wheat to cook in the thermos for about 8
hours, or overnight.
When you open the thermos you will have
lovely freshly cooked wheat, the perfect
temperature for eating. You may need to
drain off a little of the water if it hasn’t
all been absorbed. Serve anywhere you would
rice, or stir some into a little yogurt with
a bit of brown sugar. Cooked wheat is also
nice for breakfast with a few dates and
If desired, this recipe is easily doubled or
trippled for larger thermoses.
I haven’t had much success with cooking beans with a thermos, but used to enjoy oats every morning "cooked" over night that way. I also cooked pasta that way when I worked second shift. Have also cooked rice successfully using a thermos type system, but it works best when you can boil the rice for a short time before letting it set in the thermos. Split peas worked okay that way too. The point about kidney beans should not be ignored. All of this should be practiced when you can order a pizza, as it will take some experimentation to work out your method. Thermos cooking works best when the thermos is mostly filled, but remember to leave room for grain expansion.
What about uncooked green beans. Is it okay to eat raw? I have done this and have had no ill effects.