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Thread: Bugs in my grains

  1. #1
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    Bugs in my grains

    Hmmmm. I haven't had this happen in years, but today I threw out millet, quinoa, chia $$$$, and a bunch of other jars that had the webs and the flying insects in them.

    How can I prevent this in the future please?

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    As soon as you buy grains put them in the freezer to kill any bug larvae - I don't know how long you need to leave them there - a few days or a week will do I guess - then move them to wherever permanent storage is. I also do the same with spices, dried legumes, nuts, dried fruit. This is to prevent contamination that comes from the store which is the usual source. But if there are bugs of the type that infest food living in your kitchen etc.. at this point, obviously you need to clean that up first, so they are removed. Well sealed storage containers will help to contain any infestation that happens, but should in theory be unnecessary if the kitchen is not infested and you freeze anything new coming in first.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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    I practice home food storage and store literally hundreds and hundreds of pounds of grains/seeds/beans in storage and have never had an infestation. The most effective way to store them is vacuum-sealed (FoodSaver) and/or using Oxygen Absorbers. You can skip the freezer because it doesn't always do a thorough job, especially with the eggs (if any are present). And I'm sure there will be someone who will post about using bay leaves, but the science behind this method (and others like using chewing gum or a 6-penny nail) are only effective if there never was an infestation, not as an effective agent against it. You can find more information on-line through Utah State University - "Food Storage in the Home" information - and extensive research done on the subject.

    In the oxygen-free conditions of a vacuum-sealed jar/bag, using a FoodSaver and/or Oxygen Absorbers, any living pantry pests, as well as their eggs, will die - NO oxygen to support life.

    I store large amounts in vacuum-sealed FoodSaver bags or mylar bags (I usually divide a 50# bag of wheat into 5# vacuum-sealed bags), and small amounts in canning jars (1/2-gallon and quart - or smaller for really small amounts) I seal with the FoodSaver Jar Attachment, or you can just add the appropriate number and size of Oxygen Absorbers necessary. This is for long-term storage. In-use items in my pantry are stored with screw-top lids on canning jars (all sizes). A few items I will keep vacuum-sealed - like freeze-dried foods - which keep best in the oxygen-free environment. I use a FoodSaver Universal Lid for those jars because they are easy to open and shut - more so than using a vacuum-sealed canning lid on the jar.

    The good news, or at least how the entomologists who taught the class on "Pantry Pests" put it, the pantry pests are a good source of protein, especially hard-to-get B12 for vegans/vegetarians. In 3rd world countries where food storage doesn't include a Tupperware party, these pests are just considered part of the meal. Sounds awful, doesn't it.....

    I agree with Apathetic - you need to do a thorough cleaning of your kitchen once there is an infestation (vacuum every nook, cranny and crack, you may even want to have your home professionally sprayed). I would remove everything from original boxes/bags and place it in jars where it is easier to check for an infestation. All dry goods (10% or LESS moisture level) can be vacuum-sealed and stored at room temperature (or colder).

    If you happen to store pet food/seeds in your kitchen, that's the most accessible point of entry for pests. Pet products are not regulated or stored in the same conditions that people food require. You need to store pet food in the garage in an air-tight container.

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    thanks. I will work my way through the kitchen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lessisbest View Post

    The good news, or at least how the entomologists who taught the class on "Pantry Pests" put it, the pantry pests are a good source of protein, especially hard-to-get B12 for vegans/vegetarians. In 3rd world countries where food storage doesn't include a Tupperware party, these pests are just considered part of the meal. Sounds awful, doesn't it.....
    .
    I will admit to occasionally tossing the insects into the rice cooker along with the rice. They are a good source of nutrition, even if the idea produces a squeamish reaction. I keep telling myself that most cultures probably don't poor their rice in the compost because of a few bugs.

    (Not that my kitchen is overrun with insects. They just get into the grain from time to time.)

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    That reminds me of the story my dad used to tell us when we were being picky eater kids. He'd say "when I was in the army you could tell how long a soldier had been in the army by how they dealt with the bugs in the food. New soldiers would find a bug and throw the whole plate out. Medium length soldiers would scrape the bugs out and keep eating. Guys that had been in a long time would scrape the bugs back in, even the ones that were trying to run away."

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    it's tricky if you are a vegan like me. I just need to move them on to the compost or somewhere else. I would prefer not to eat any, although I am sure I have eaten many accidentally in my time. So out of the house you go little critters.

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    I have used freezing and vacuuming sealing but with suspect source grains (often when stocking the boat in southern locations), I would use dry ice in the buckets then vac seal or seal in.

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    what is the dry ice for Brian? Is it to kill them with gas or deprive them of air basically?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kally View Post
    what is the dry ice for Brian? Is it to kill them with gas or deprive them of air basically?
    I believe both, though surest it deprives them of oxygen. I bought in 30lb to 50kg bags in 1000 lb + loads so while I had one commercial freezer aboard I could not accommodate freezing a resupply amount, plus the nature of heat and dockside even if no bugs when delivered I could get them quickly aboard. I used 5 gall buckets lined with bags, then added a chunk of dry ice (easy to find near fishing centres) on top of the first layer of poured grains or legumes, filled to half inch of top, left bucket lid laid on top, then after gasses stop coming off top (when rock concert fog effect ended), sealed the lids. I probably used more dry ice than I needed but little ticks one off as much as screening out bugs from food you need, 6 months from the next resupply. I had no failures in 8 years with this method. I have even used it after when I had access to freezing for days in commercial deep freezers (maybe better at killing eggs than home freezers?) as a belt and braces insurance. I tried to minimize purchase of such food supplies in ports as most came in contaminated, just as every corrugated box seemed sure to bring bugs, so none came aboard.

    Cheers Brian

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