Storage Options – Base Grain, Specialty Grain and DME

Homebrew Grain and DME Storage Options

When it comes to storing grain and DME, we’re concerned about keeping the ingredients fresh minimizing oxygen and moisture exposure.  We’re also interest in keeping Grain and DME away from possible pests.  Beyond that convenient access and efficient use of space are issues to consider.  This post also includes some tips and general sizing guidelines.

Buckets
Buckets are one of the most basic and popular options out there.

A 5 gallon bucket holds about 25 lbs of grain.  Two buckets = a 50 lb bag.  Two 6 gallon buckets would comfortably hold a 55 lb bag.

The advantage of these is primarily cost.  Note that some lids are not airtight.  The airtight or nearly airtight lids can be difficult to put on and take off.  Also, you will be carrying these.  Some of the other options have wheels for convenience.  Buckets are definitely a solid option for the price.

5 Gallon Bucket for Grain StorageEmergency Essentials (beprepared.com) has a great selection of economical food safe buckets and lids.  They also offer economical tiered shipping that maxes out of $12.  That’s important because buckets are relatively large and can fall under more expensive dimensional shipping rates.

5 Gallon Food Safe Bucket and LId | 6 Gallon Food Safe Bucket and Lid

These are stackable and include heavy weight lids.

From the description: “These buckets are different from what you will find at a hardware store. These are high quality, thick (90 mil) food grade plastic bucket, so there aren’t harmful chemicals that may affect your stored goods.”

Emergency Essentials Full Selection of Buckets and LidsShipping Rate Explanation

Buckets + Gamma Lids
Probably, the next step up is adding Gamma Seal Lids to your buckets.

These fit on standard 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets.  You attach the base of the unit to the bucket and leave that intact.  The lid screws on and off.  That fixes a couple of issues that buckets may have when used in conjunction with standard lids.  First, Gamma Lids are airtight.  Second, the lids screw on and off easily.  No more prying lids.

Gamma Seal LidsEmergency Essentials stocks these as well with the same economical shipping.  They also offer bucket and lid combos that include Gamma Seals.

5 Gallon Bucket with White Gamma Seal Lid

6 Gallon Bucket with White Gamma Seal Lid – Hands on Review

From Description of the 6 Gallon Version: “This stackable, food-grade plastic, six-gallon bucket comes with a re-sealable, screw-top Gamma Seal Lid. The Gamma Seal Lid is THE solution to accessible food storage. It transforms the 6-gallon bucket into an airtight and leak-proof storage container. The Gamma Seal Lid is interchangealbe for most 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets, including the 20 liter.” (keep reading)

Emergency Essentials Full Selection of Buckets and LidsShipping Rate Explanation

Gamma Seal Lids are also available via Amazon: Search Gamma Seal Lid

If you’re using standard bucket lids, consider a bucket lid wrench to help pry off lids.

Pet Food Style Containers
Now we transition into pet food-type containers.  These generally work great because they are typically food safe, designed to be airtight, the can have large capacities.  Some also have convenient features like easy access lids, see through sides and wheels.

IRIS Airtight Pet Food Storage Container 60-69 QtAirtight, Food Safe, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

The stated size of this container is 60 to 69 quarts.  60 quarts = 15 gallons.  At 5 lbs per gallon, this would hold 75 lbs of malt.  That means you can comfortably fit a 50 to 55 lb sack of grain in this container.

IRIS Airtight Pet Food Storage Container 60-69 Qt

710XtaD7hYL._SL1500_Vittles Vault Home 40.  Airtight seal.  Clear base.  Easy access opening.  Lid spins on and off.  Made of FDA approved food grade plastic.  BPA free.

These are designed to hold pet food, but they work great for grain storage.  The 40 lb rating is for pet food.  This should hold around 50 lbs of grain – depending on the grain.  Clear sides to easily see how much grain you have left, made from FDA approved plastic and airtight.

Vittles Vault Home 40

Bergan 50-Pound Smart Storage, Large - Color May VaryStackable, Airtight, Food Safe and Large Easy Access Lid.  Ability to access contents while stacked.

Bergan 50-Pound Smart Storage, Large – Color May Vary

Vittles Vault Stackable ContainerStackable, Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Space Efficient, Made from high quality impact resistant plastic and pest proof.

Note: 40 lb rating is for pet food.  From what I’ve heard this will hold a full 50 lb bag of grain but not in the pictured orientation.  The back of the container must be down.  In that orientation they are not stackable.  If you’re buying and storing full sacks of grain, I recommend to the 60 lb version.

Vittles Vault Stackable 40 lb

Vittles Vault StackableStackable, Airtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Space Efficient, Made from high quality impact resistant plastic and pest proof.

All the advantages of the 40 lb Vittles vault with 50% more capacity.

Vittles Vault Stackable 60 lb

Buddeez 12-1/2-Gallon Roll-Away Pet Food Dispenser with ScoopAirtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

12.5 gallons.  At 5 lbs/gallon this should hold around 62.5 lbs of grain.

Buddeez 12-1/2-Gallon Roll-Away Pet Food Dispenser with Scoop

Buddeez 80-Quart Roll-Away Pet and Large Animal Food Dispenser with ScoopAirtight, FDA Approved, Food Safe, BPA Free, Large Easy Access Lid, Clear Sides to Gauge Contents and Wheels.

At a whopping 80 quarts/20 gallons, this should hold approximately 100 lbs of grain!

Buddeez 80-Quart Roll-Away Pet and Large Animal Food Dispenser with Scoop

Other options
Some have mentioned using trash cans, totes and other similar types of containers.  Those may work for you, depending on your situation and the environment you’re in.  I have stuck to airtight options for this post.

Specialty Grain Storage

4 Gallon Bucket and Lid4 Gallon Square Bucket and Lid.  Food grade, stackable and space-efficient.  Four gallons holds approximately 20 lbs of grain.

Emergency Essentials Full Selection of Buckets and LidsShipping Rate Explanation

Bergan 10-Pound Smart Storage, Small - Color May VaryAirtight, lid snaps into place for pouring, easy access handle on bottom and no scoop is required.

Bergan 10-Pound Smart Storage, Small – Color May Vary

Buddeez 8-Quart Dispenser for Pet Food and Bird SeedAirtight, BPA Free, Clear Sides, FDA approved food safe.  2 Gallon capacity should hold around 10 lbs of grain.

Buddeez 8-Quart Dispenser for Pet Food and Bird Seed

DME/Specialty Grain Storage
These containers should work for both specialty grains and Dry Malt Extract storage.

Rubbermaid Home Cereal Keeper Clear/ Red (1.5 Gal) - 1783748Airtight, Food Safe.  1.5 Gallon Capacity.  1.5 US Gallons equates to 5.67 Liters.  My rule of thumb – More Info – is 1.25 lbs per liter.  That means this should hold approximately 7.09 lbs of grain.

Rubbermaid 5161-RD Cereal Keeper

Snapware MODS Medium Rectangle Storage Container 17 Cups4 liter/17 cup capacity airtight, BPA free container from Snapware.  Holds 5 lbs of grain or 4.57 lbs of DME.  Check out my hands on review – Here.

Snapware MODS Medium Rectangle Storage Container 17 Cups

Airtight Medium Rectangle 23 Cup 8X6X95.44 liter/23 cup capacity airtight, BPA free container from Snapware..  This should hold around 6.8 lbs of grain.

Airtight Medium Rectangle 23 Cup 8X6X9

Vacuum Sealing
I use a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer [Review] for hop storage.  I also use it to store and preserve small amounts (1 to 2 lbs) of specialty grains.  I’ve even stored entire bags of grain in FoodSaver bags.  I don’t recommend that… but I’ve done it.

For smaller amounts of specialty grains I usually just put the whole bag of grains inside a FoodSaver bag and vacuum seal it.

Mason Jars

You can also use Mason jars along with your FoodSaver’s Accessory port to store grain.  Using my rule of thumb 1.25 lbs per liter, the half gallon size jars should hold around 2.36 lbs of grain and the quart jars should hold around 1.17 lbs of grain.  Mason jars are reusable, are oxygen impermeable and you can easily see the contents.

1/2 Gallon Mason Jars
Ace Hardware: Ball 64oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars (68100) – 6 Pack
Amazon: Ball Wide Mouth Half Gallon Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6

Quart/32 oz Jars
Ace Hardware: Ball 32oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars (67000)
Amazon: Ball Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12

FoodSaver Mason Jar Sealer
Jar sealers and caps come in two sizes to fit both wide mouth and regular mouth jars.  Note that you need the correct size jar sealer to match your jars.

FoodSaver T03-0023-01 Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer | FoodSaver T03-0006-01 Regular-Mouth Jar Sealer

Storage Caps
If you want or need to skip the FoodSaver part, Ball makes a storage cap.  That also comes in two sizes depending on jar size.

Mason Jar Storage CapsBall Plastic Storage Caps Wide Mouth | Ball Plastic Storage Caps Regular Mouth

FoodSaver

FoodSaver V2244This model includes an accessory port that’s required to use the Mason Jar sealing attachment.

FoodSaver V2244 Advanced Design Vacuum Sealer, Black

AlsoHands on Review: FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealer

Storage Bags:

VacMaster Storage Roll, 8-Inch by 50-Feet Long, 1 Roll per Box

eBay is also a good source for discount vacuum sealer bags and rolls.  Rolls are particularly nice for grain as you can make bags to size.

Grain and DME Storage Rules of Thumb:

  • Grain weighs approximately 5 lbs per Gallon or 1.25 lbs per Liter – Justification
  • I estimate that DME weighs about 1.125 lbs per Liter

Milling Your Own Grain:
For all grain brewers, bulk grain storage may go hand in hand with milling your own grain.

  • Milling your own grain offers these advantages…
  • Gives you control over the crush of your grain.  That’s a big factor in efficiency.  A mill allows you to fine tune for your equipment and process.
  • A mill allows you to save money by buying whole bags of grain.
  • Freshly milled grain = better tasting beer. and…
  • Mad street cred… 🙂

Related: Cereal Killer Grain Mill – $99.99 Shipped

Got something else to add to the list?  Send me an email

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One thought on “Storage Options – Base Grain, Specialty Grain and DME

  1. Mark

    One additional step that I usually do is to blanket grain with CO2. Though note that it probably takes more CO2 to displace the air than you think might be required, and it helps if you fill from the bottom of the container. I push a 1/4″ hose to the bottom of the container (through the grain) with the other end attached to my CO2 tank, and open the valve for 30 seconds or so.

    This theoretically minimizes oxidation and keeps bugs from living in the grain. Dunno if it really works, but it’s pretty cheap insurance for a bag of grain.

    Reply

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