Dealing With Bugs In Stored Food

David Trammel's picture

I opened a box of dried rice to make gumbo this week and found a water bug (aka roach) had slipped inside and made a home. Maybe the recent hurricanes had sent more than abandoned pets to St Louis, lol. I separated the little guy out and gave him/her a squash. I'm not fond of those critters. I did though, continue with meal prep.

Seriously how does everyone handle pests in your dried foods?

My go to way was just air tight containers, but with stocking up in the beginnings of the pandemic, I have quite a few boxes of prepared foods. Most have their dried components inside of plastic bags. I do seem to remember a few that just poured their major item into the box and sealed that.

Suggestions/ practices/ experiences?

I freeze things that are likely to get bugs (tightly sealed in plastic or glass airtight containers or double-freezer-ziploc'd). I keep whole grains in the freezer permanently to preserve freshness as long as possible and white flour, white rice, and pasta come out after one week and then return to room temp (still sealed, to prevent condensation damage) in airtight storage.

If you've got any kind of bug problem (or want to prevent one) move everything possible into sealed containers.
Quart canning jars work great, other than that glass issue: drop the jar and you've got lost food mixed with broken glass.

Any clean, glass wide-mouthed food jar can be recycled for dry food storage.

Or, if you want to be systematic, choose a jar of something that you routinely buy and stick to that size. We use 40 oz jars of store brand peanut butter (Bill eats peanut butter straight). They're plastic and have tightly sealing, screw-on plastic lids. We store all kinds of things in them, once they've been scrubbed clean. They're free, unbreakable, transparent, and we have an unending supply.

You can also buy food storage canisters but that gets pricy.

Don't store anything in the plastic bag it came in from the supermarket.

Just to be clear, there are two types of bug problems:

1. Bugs that get at your stuff from outside the container (what Teresa is talking about protecting from) and
2. Bugs that are IN the food as tiny eggs (flour weevils, rice beetles, etc) or on it (e.g. food packed in cardboard only, where they can crawl in in the warehouse and lay their eggs there) when you get it.

To protect against #2 you must freeze the food for several days, and since most of this food is moisture sensitive, you have to protect it from the dessicating effect of the freezer and condensation during the thawing process.