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 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 for Grain Storage – Pros, Cons and Capacity Estimates

Buckets are one of the most basic and popular options out there and for good reason.  They are generally easy to source, well made and cheap.  Food safe options are also easy to find.

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.  My rule of about 5 lbs per gallon for grain storage.

Note that some lids are not airtight.  The airtight or nearly airtight lids can be difficult to put on and pry 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.  One of the bigger downsides of buckets – the lids (leaky or hard to put on and take off) – can be addressed by upgrading to Gamma Seal Lids.  See below for more info on that.

Emergency Essentials (beprepared.com) has a great selection of economical food safe buckets and lids.  They also offer economical tiered shipping.  That’s important because buckets are relatively large and can fall under more expensive dimensional shipping rates.

Food Safe Buckets and Gamma Seal Lids – via Emergency Essentials

Buckets + Gamma Lids

The next step up, in my opinion, 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.

Emergency Essentials also offer bucket and lid combos that include Gamma Seals.

Food Safe Buckets and Gamma Seal Lids – via Emergency Essentials

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

Pet Food Style Containers for Grain Storage

Now we transition into pet food-type containers.  These can work great because they are generally… food safe or made from FDA compliant food safe materials, designed to be airtight and can have large capacities.  Some also have convenient features like easy access lids, see through sides and wheels.

Vittles Vault Airtight Stackable Pet Food Container

Some options:

Other Options for Bulk Homebrew Grain Storage

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.  Non-airtight options may cause problems related to pests, moisture and humidity.  Also, non-food grade plastics may be a health and safety issue.  I recommend that you use airtight and food safe containers for grain and ingredient storage.

DME and Specialty Grain Storage Options + Grain and DME Capacity Estimates

We’re looking for the same sorts of things for specialty grain storage and dry malt extract storage, but generally smaller containers.  If you’re a big batch brewer and buy specialty grains in bulk to save some money, some of the larger options might be best for you.

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

Airtight Medium Rectangle 23 Cup 8X6X9

Vacuum Sealing for hops, grain and other ingredients

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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.

Vacuum sealing hops allows you to get in on larger hops buys and store your hops well to maintain freshness.  Save money and still use fresh tasting and smelling hops.

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, oxygen impermeable and you can easily see the contents.

  • Search Mason Jars on Amazon
  • Also, check out your local hardware store for these, you can sometimes find a deal

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

Storage Bags.  Check out seller FoodVacBags on Amazon for bags that are compatible with your machine

Milling Your Own Grain

For all grain brewers, bulk grain storage goes hand in hand with milling your own grain.  If we’re storing bulk quantities of grain to save time and money, we’re probably going to need to mill that 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.

If you’re looking for a mill, consider Adventures in Homebrewing’s Cereal Killer Grain Mill [Hands On Review]

Got something else to add to the list?  Let us know!  Submit a Tip

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