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The Cookus Cupboard: Whole Grains and Flours

Sponsored by PCC Natural Markets, the largest consumer-owned natural foods cooperative in the United States. Nine locations in the Puget Sound area.

This is part of a series of videos about stocking your pantry with whole foods.  Here is a starter list for whole grain products to keep in store.  Once you establish and maintain pantry items, weekly grocery shopping can center on fresh produce, fish or animal protein and dairy products needed for menus.   Nice.

Humans eating grains represents the beginning of agriculture; planting, tending and harvesting created stability and community in our species.  Later, their consumption became an economically-viable source of calories.  We return to these humble foods at a time when we need a diet that is nutrient dense and fiber rich for better health.

Current research shows that eating whole grains is important for preventing heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.  Keeping whole grain products at hand that you enjoy and are comfortable cooking is essential. 

Brown rice

can become the backdrop for dozens of dishes; simmer, pressure-cook or let Jane show you how to use a rice-cooker


quick cooking (just 15 minutes) and nutrient-dense this grain can be used to make salads for the lunchbox or served under curries, stir-fries


Purchase rolled or steel cut, whichever you prefer.  Give yourself a warm breakfast especially on cold mornings.

Wild rice

or another grain of your choice, so you have at least 4 to choose from; kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) is nice to keep around too.

Whole wheat pastry flour

Pastry flour is best for cookies, muffins, pie crusts; whole wheat flour is appropriate for bread-making

Soba Noodles

quick cooking noodle made from buckwheat flour (no relation to wheat) and wheat.  100% buckwheat soba is also available.

Corn tortillas

fish tacos, huevos rancheros, these are a handy pocket for beans, vegetables and more

Whole Grain bread

read labels and buy locally-made bread with less than 5 ingredients, okay maybe 8 is okay


Whole grains, such as brown rice, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, and millet can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature.  Un-ground whole grains will keep this way for 6-9 months.  Whole grain pastas stored in airtight containers will keep over a year.

Whole grain flours, including whole wheat, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, and spelt flour, should be stored in airtight containers where they will keep for 2 months at room temperature, 6 months in the refrigerator, and a year in the freezer. The essential oils in grains are released when grains are ground into flour making them more susceptible to spoilage.


heather low choy
Love Feeding the Whole Family (an early edition), a thoughtful and useful gift from one of your former students. What's your take on the benefits, if any, of soaking grains before cooking with them? Or of using a cultured dairy product/miso to ferment them?
October 16, 2009, 11:09 am

Cynthia Lair
Yes heather, soaking grains eliminates the phytic acid and makes many of the nutrients more bioavailable. By soaking them with cultured dairy or miso you (obviously) add probiotics, increasing digestibility even further.
October 16, 2009, 1:14 pm

Rebecca Pouliot
When using wheat berries as a cooked breakfast cereal - as in Five Grain Morning Cereal - do you use hard winter wheat?
October 16, 2009, 3:04 pm

Cynthia Lair
Hard winter wheat berries are fine for cereal Rebecca. I have found that soaking the whole grains overnight (as Heather talks about above) in yogurt and water, blending them in the morning and then cooking is another excellent way to make cereal. Soak 1 cup of mixed grains in 1/4 cup yogurt and 1 cup water. Blend until smooth then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
October 17, 2009, 8:40 am

Rebecca Pouliot
Thanks Cynthia for this suggestion. I'll give it a try. Would you refrigerate the mixture for its overnight soak?
October 19, 2009, 5:46 pm

Sharon Porter
I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for listing each whole grain separately. I have written an article on the many benefits of whole grains along with some recipes you might enjoy: Feel free to leave a comment! :)
October 20, 2009, 9:28 am

Wind Wind
I don't know who you wrote this for but you helped a btroher out.
August 7, 2011, 9:23 am

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