keeping dem danged bugs out of my dry goods

TrishcuitSeptember 19, 2011

I just had to throw out a lot of dry goods because pantry moths were having a hey day. It was truly disgusting how they can chew their way into regular plastic bags to eat and lay eggs. It is easy enough to find smaller airtight storage containers, a gallon or so, for rice etc. However with the price of flour these days I wait for sales and buy the big bag (25lb.) I am looking for ideas for a food safe air tight container to keep that much flour in, with a lid that doesn't require a crow bar to remove. I prefer units that won't break the bank either.

Thanks in advance!

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readinglady(z8 OR)

If you look for companies like the one I've linked to below you'll see a lot of options. You don't have to order from this company; it just gives you an idea of the kind of thing that's available. Any bulk food storage company will generally offer containers. Or the Container Store or similar.

Also, you can approach local restaurants/fast food places and bakeries (including grocery store bakeries) for used large-quantity buckets. They'll either give you or sell very cheaply suitable containers. However, they will have really tough to remove lids. Actually, that's what you need for truly impenetrable storage. Those little devils can get in whenever there's any possible space. There is a little plastic pry tool that pops those lids right up. Saves the fingers.

I actually got my biggest ones (for pickling) at a brewing supply store.


Here is a link that might be useful: U.S. Plastic Food Storage Containers

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:23AM
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Some products already contain insects, esp. grain related.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:33AM
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Alphonse, Yes I have heard that about the insects. EWW. Not sure what they rode in on but they sure got around and made themselves at home. When I was selling Tupperware a LOOONNNG time ago that was one of the things we learned. Good promo for the air tight seal. Too bad Tupperware is so danged pricey and I don't even know if they sell that particular container anymore in that size.

Readinglady, that site has some GREAT containers! The one I liked in particular was $303. So much for not breaking the bank, haha! Back to the old drawing board. I can't believe how those little b******s got into everything. The first place I noticed them was in my lovely Basmati Rice. That really burned!! Bakery buckets are easy to get but I don't know how bug proof they are, if those things can get through such tiny places. They need to be SERIOUSLY airtight and too thick and heavy to chew through.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 3:44AM
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I use food safe 5 and 7 gallon plastic pails with lids. Got them from a lady who makes soap and buys edible coconut oil in them. I cut off some of the inside edge so it is easier to get on and off. Check the engraving for the type of plastic - okay are HDPE, LDPE, and polypropylene. Never use trash bags to store food - I think they are impregnated with a chemical to keep bugs out but not safe for food contact. You can put multiple boxes/bags of food in one container, you don't have to use a separate one for each.

You might look at the restaurant supply store near you. They have lots of storage containers. There is also a pantry moth attractor that looks like a little tent. It lures them in and they get stuck on the goo inside. I've also heard, but not tried, that a bay leaf in the dry food boxes keeps them away. Another trick I use for my multiple kinds of flours is to keep them in my big freezer.

I do believe that some pantry moths are already in the dry foods when you buy them.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 4:56AM
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When I buy flour, oats or fish coating mixes, etc the unopened bag or box goes into a zip-loc and then into the freezer for a couple of days. A good friend here gave me a bay laurel plant maybe 6-8 years ago that I set out on the deck during the summer and winter indoors in a sunny window. Pick a green leaf and throw it into the zip-loc next to the bag or box of flour. The bay plant needs a close watch for spider mites and scale insects. Wish it would repel those pests. :(

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 9:36AM
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afeisty1(St. Louis)

I've had very good success with bay leaves.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 10:12AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, I certainly wasn't looking at the $300+ storage. Something much cheaper than that for sure!

I do have some of those old Tupperware storage canisters. I use them for rice and flour, but sadly I don't see anything like that on their site now.

You can freeze or bake bulk goods before storage to kill any potential larvae. A nasty thought but it does work.


Here is a link that might be useful: Managing Pantry Pests

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 12:54PM
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Hi Trishcuit,.

I put my flour in larger Ball jars. I think the flour jar is a 1 gallon jar, maybe even a 2 gallon jar. I got it from Ace Hardware.

I put all of my grains, rice, nuts, snacks, etc in smaller jars 8oz to 1qt and use the plastic Ball lids. I prefer to stay away from storing things in plastic containers and they look so pretty on the shelf ;)

Good luck. Michele

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 1:03PM
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I buy flour by the 25 pound bag as well, and yeah......most of any cereal product I buy goes into the freezer for two weeks to kill larvae. Thing is, I found that it's just as easy to keep them in there, especially the large bags. I just fill my cannister (a huge glass apothecary jar) up and it is protected until it needs filled again. I had oats in a tupperware container and went to make porridge this morning and noticed that there were larvae in it. It had to have come with the oats. blech. The chickens enjoy it and now I am without until I do another marketing. I REALLY wanted hot cereal this morning, too!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 6:08PM
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Yeah finding larvae in the cereals is REALLY unappetizing.

I am thinking of the days of the tall ships, Napoleon etc. The sailors had sea biscuits packed in crates as a basic food source and when it went dry it was 'hard tack'. They always had weevil infestations. They picked off the bugs and ate it anyway, having not much choice; Eat or starve. The odd one they missed would be protein. Yuck. We are NOT that desperate here thank God.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 9:11PM
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I am a firm believer in using my freezer for storing rice, cornmeal and flour. I find the door works for smaller bags(I have an upright freezer) and the shelves are fine for larger packages. Glass gallon jars and coffee containers work well for storing beans, lentils, etc. I am not fussy as to what the storage holder looks like as long as it prevents bugs from getting at the food.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:10AM
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Wouldn't it make sense to control the pests, not just minimize their damage? I have always had good luck with Bay Leaves in the cabinets where I keep dry goods.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 6:00PM
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Bay leaves are on my shopping list.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 9:17PM
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I got a bunch of big food storage containers from the RED CROSS. They have lock down lids that are easy to open. They screw down, are supposedly airtight but they have this little lever on them that makes them easy to open. We have never had a problem with our dry goods since then with our rice, flour, wheat, dry milk, sugar, and oatmeal.

The other thing I do is I have also bought bulk food through Walton Feed. There are a bunch of us in this area that work together and make up a big order of bulk food/emergency food that we want. Then we call them, they give us a discount, load it all on a truck and ship it down to us. We meet the truck and help unload it, sort it all out and whaalaaa- food for cheap. SO I have often bought number 10 cans or mylar bags of things we use a lot but might be buggy were I to leave it open (oatmeal for example). Then it's all taken care of already. YOu might look at something like that. Of course it's more work but cheaper....

I'm not sure how the red cross got the food buckets we use but they had a billion of them at one point and were selling them for a buck a piece. You can't beat that. I wish I had bought more. Last time I called the lady didn't know what I was talking about. But maybe you don't have as many people in your area snatching them up? Or maybe your red cross would have them?! You could try right?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:55AM
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robinkateb(z4 VT)

I have food grade paint buckets from Pleasant Valley Grain and the screw off lid for them. I have had all sorts of moth problems but none in my flour. The bugs are making me crazy, I can't seem to get rid of them so I have been putting the smaller things in the freezer for 4 days.

Here is a link that might be useful: Screw off lids at Pleasant Valley Grains

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 4:17PM
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Wow I've never seen bucket screw off lids like that before. Those are AWESOME. Not worth the freight to Canada but it will be something to keep my eye open for. The big food buckets here you need a special prying tool for.

I have started utilizing the freezer now. At least now I have something to put in my deep freeze to justify it staying plugged in.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 6:53PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

It's so humid here that anything coming out of the freezer gets wet immediately. How do you deal with that?

I've had these darn moths before and the only way to get rid of them is diligence. You have to inspect every package and kill any you see flying around. Put the crevice attachment on your vacuum hose and go around the corners. I also started discarding or at least inspecting all cardboard boxes immediately when I got my groceries home. (Doesn't everybody like to read the cereal box while they're eating cereal?) If there is 1 infested package on a pallet, the larva will make their cocoons all over the other boxes and I think this is another common vector for how they get in pantries. Your package may still be intact but have a pupating moth between the box and plastic lining.

Also wanted to suggest to those who buy in bulk that you don't have to store the entire amount of something in a single container. If little containers are cheaper and easier to find... And all of your "eggs" aren't in 1 "basket."

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 11:37AM
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robinkateb(z4 VT)

The screw off lids for the paint buckets are awesome. I bought 2 and love them! I am sure you can find a canadian source for them.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 2:08PM
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robinkateb(z4 VT)

Here is a Canadian resource for those buckets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canadian resource for the Gamma Lid buckets

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 4:43PM
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THanks Robin. A very interesting website all around. I have a friend who spends a lot of time on conspiracy theories, government corruption and the world generally going to hell in a handbasket. I sent him the link as they are looking for Canadian consultants. Always good to be into business with something we feel passionate about.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 11:30PM
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chudak(10 San Diego)

All of my dry goods go into either these:

Lock and Locks

or these:

Click Clacks

I found a set of large lock lock (or some knock off equivalent) at Costco that will hold 5-10+lbs of flour, rice, cereal or sugar when I buy in bulk. I use the round cannisters of various sizes to store sugar, flour, rice, pasta, beans, bread crumbs or anything else that the moths used to get into.

I also occasionally put out some of the those sticky moth traps. The traps have been empty for awhile now.

The only problems I've really had after using the containers:

-flour mites: even in the container I got an infestation of flour mites. As some indicated, this means they were in the flour to begin with. The nice thing was that the mites were contained in the bin so I just had to dump it all and clean the bin and they weren't all over everything else in my dry storage

-beetles: when I buy bird seed for my birds it often has beetles and/or eggs. If I don't freeze these first they'll multiply and become evident in a short period of time.

However, the containers WILL prevent flour moths and beetles from getting into your dry goods if they aren't already in them.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 1:15PM
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I use 3 liter soda bottles to store rice, lentils and sugar. It would take too long with a funnel so I made a wide mouth funnel by cutting the top off of a smaller soda bottle.

Do those fruit fly traps sold at Menards really work? It's a little apple shaped plastic bottle, supposed to have a pheromone scent. Has anyone used any of these fruit fly traps with good success?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 3:00PM
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chudak(10 San Diego)

@happyday I've used the fruit fly traps that have a scent packet and a piece of sticky paper. They work well however they are very expensive ($5-7/ea) and you have to toss them after a couple of days or the flies actually start breeding in them (you'll see larva and pupae casings all over the inside of the trap).

I really wish they sold refill kits with the lure and sticky paper for a couple of bucks so you don't have to buy the whole jar.

I've tried reusing the jars by putting in some cider vinegar with a dab o dish soap. The vinegar attracts them and the dish soap reduces the surface tension so when they try and feed on the vinegar they sink and drown. I've had limited success with this versus the bait and sticky paper.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 11:14AM
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I cut down on fruit fly breeding dramatically by drenching my compost bucket and contents with dish-soapy water. Also use the vacuum and crevice attachment.

Chudak maybe you could put the scent packet inside a jar of soapy water so they go in and can't get out and drown. You could cut a plastic bottle in half, tape the lure in the top, put soapy water in the bottom and tape back together, then take tape off later and dump out dead flies and refill with soapy water and reuse the scent packet. Or just hang the scent packet on a wire over the water.

Which product do you use? I don't see one on Amazon that sounds like what you describe. They do have this one to make replacement lures 7 dollars for 3 lures but you could use half as much and have 6 lures from that.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 2:08PM
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bejay9_10(zone 9/10)

I also use the bay leaf technique for any pastas, dried beans, etc., and inspect all small pkgs stored in large ice chests.

But - I like to buy unbleached flour in bulk - on line from King Arthurs - when they offer free shipping. I also have regular flour - for other baking - pies, cakes, sweet breads, etc. - but it goes faster, so I just keep an eye on it.

But specialty flours - these I freeze in containers in smaller sizes, especially because I want them FRESH - that goes for yeast as well. We like multi-grains baked in sour dough recipes and want them extra fresh - so the glass and food grade freezer containers are best for these.
Also - buying grated Parmesean cheese - which is not only expensive in the small bars, but we eat a lot of it - so freeze in the larger container it comes in.

So far, so good.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 11:19AM
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