Selecting and Storing Whole Grains

Buy and keep the healthiest and tastiest grains for your favorite recipes.

An increasingly wide variety of whole grains is becoming available in supermarkets, and you can always find the less common ones in health food stores. Because the oil-rich germ is intact, whole grains are living foods that must be treated with special care. Unlike white rice or pasta made with refined flour, most whole grains cannot be stored indefinitely on a pantry shelf without becoming rancid. Here is some advice about shopping for and storing whole grains:

  • Shop in a store that has a high turnover.

  • If purchasing packaged grains or whole-grain products, check the expiration date and select the one that's freshest.

  • When selecting from a bulk bin, sniff the grains to be sure they are fresh; they should either have no aroma or a slightly sweet, grassy scent. If they smell oily or rank, alert the store manager and pass them by.

  • Once home, place the grains and whole-grain products such as pasta or cereals in a well-sealed container and mark the date. Store them in the refrigerator or freezer and aim to use them within six months.

  • If you open a sealed package of grains or a whole-grain product and it has an unpleasant aroma, either return it to the store owner (if it is not beyond the expiration date) or toss it.

  • When buying whole-grain products such as cereals or breads, be sure to check the label. The first word before each type of grain should be "whole." Don't be fooled by a label like "7-Grain Bread." Such a product could include seven different kinds of grains without any of them being whole.