An article or so ago I focused on the Mealy Moth and how destructive it can be to the foods in your pantry. I promised that I would continue helping you deal with the other creatures that lurk in our pantries and cupboards and consider all foods there to be their preparedness pantry for several generations.
When it comes to bugs and foods, attitude is important. In an emergency, itwon’t take long to decide who is going to survive – you or the weevil. In some situations, you may not have a choice as to whether or not you can throw out infested foods and buy more.
Unlike the cockroach or mouse, the weevil is a clean bug. (Honest.) If it is raised in whole wheat, it turns brown; in whole wheat flour, it is beige; in white flour it is white. (I just knew you would want to know that, especially if you had oatmeal and raisins planned for breakfast tomorrow.) You can sift weevil out and eat the food anyway; or you can ignore them altogether. A little weevil never hurt anyone – that I know of.
And yes, I tease a lot, but some of you may live in a part of the country where bugs are a way of life, and you do learn to ignore them or sift them out. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there have been several instances in my family’s life where that was not a choice. In order to have that oatmeal, we learned that the bugs do float and we did not die from some horrendous, long named, awful disease. That’s just how it was at the time. Start now to figure out what you will do, and what your attitude will be, should the time come to make the decision: Is it going to be you or the bugs?
Here is one simple method of eliminating bugs that are evident in your foods. Simply heat-treat them by spreading dried foods such as grains, beans, cereals or nuts evenly on a cookie sheet that has a turned up edge. (Do not attempt to heat treat dry milk or sugars). Do not mound the product on the cookie sheet. Place it in the oven at the lowest degree that the oven will register – 140 º, or 210 º, or 175º, whatever is the very lowest registered degree for a half hour. When the time is up, allow the foods to cool, then gently bounce or shake the tray, so that the grain settles and the weevil and hull rise to the top. Using a dry dish cloth, or other cloth, gently wipe across the top of the heat- treated product, holding or propping the sheet over the sink.
Some people recommend food-grade diatomaceous earth as a product to put in your foods. It is finely crushed sea shells and will kill insects. Before you choose to use it, investigate it further as to the pros and cons.
Minimize re-infestation of your foods by storing them in air tight containers. Do not put them back into the same container without thoroughly washing, rinsing and drying it. That must include the lid, because sometimes the weevil hides in the threads of the lid, as well as the threads on the jar. This also includes the lids of food-grade plastic buckets. Yes, they are tenacious creatures. (That is another good trivia point for you.)
If you are using the popular plastic food-grade, clean plastic buckets, there is no need for plastic bag liners! Containers should be as air-tight as possible. No thickness of the plastic in bags, or liners is sufficient to stop hungry weevil, or mice for that matter. They will chew right through it. Plastic liners are an unnecessary expense. The rule of thumb for storage is to use clean, food grade containers, no matter the size you choose. If you are using a liner, hoping to protect the food from residue or odor in the container, it doesn’t work. For example, it won’t take long for you or your family members to discover that you have put your flour in a container that once held dill pickles. J Use a clean container in the first place. Never use containers that are not food grade or that have been used for non-food products!
Just your pantry pointer for the week: chocolate chips, either bulk or in their packages, store very well in the plastic buckets. Make sure they are kept as dark and cool as possible. It is very difficult to get out a 25 pound lump of chips if you have inadvertently allowed the said bucket to sit in the sun or next to the heater vent. Chocolate when stored sometimes turns white. It does not affect the flavor or cooking capabilities at all.
See, even when I talk about bugs, I can somehow work in the chocolate!!
So, have you decided yet? Are you going to love the bugs and share your food … Or?