Storing flour in the Gulf South
After growing up in the midwest, where bread keeps on the counter for a week and you never refrigerate potatoes or onions, I'm still trying to get used to how quickly things go bad or buggy in a hot, humid environment. It's been 8 years. I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for containers for flour. I usually have 5-8 different types of flour open at any one time, and I'd prefer not to keep it all in the freezer all the time. I do freeze bags of flour overnight when I first buy them to kill any dormant ickies, but I've had an infestation of moths lately and I'm irritated. Particularly in the cornmeal. I could eke out some space in the fridge if that's the only way. Metal, ceramic, tupperware? Does it need to be airtight? And I'd rather have each bag stored separately, so there's no potential for transfer of bugs. Or should it be taken out of the bag?
I live in SoCal where it's very dry — different problem altogether. However, several years ago we were living elsewhere and left our house vacant for nearly a year. We returned to weevils that I've been battling ever since.
Since I won't use chemical sprays in the kitchen or pantry, I'd think I'd made some headway and then a whole new crop would hatch in some remote corner and I wouldn't know about it until it was a whole population. But here's what really made a difference: pheramone lures (the Bakers' Catalogue has them) and a vacuum sealer. I replace the pheramone lures every 6 months and I reseal everything I open in either the original packaging, the heavy plastic bags that the sealer manufacturer supplies or glass canning jars. Even if there are eggs in something, sealing keeps them inside a single package that I can throw out without contaminating other things.
For 5# bags of flour I use the tall Lock & Lock containers that have a very secure seal. The bags fit inside in their original packaging that I can read through the containers so I know when I'm grabbing whole wheat, white whole wheat, hard wheat or all-purpose.
I used to have to replace *full* lures every month. Now they trap 6-12 males over 6 months.
I'm not sure, but I think vacuum sealing would also help with the humidity.
I keep my sealer out on the counter and use it constantly. I find new uses for it all the time and it's really been worth what I paid for it and some accessories like the bottle sealer and the canning jar sealer.
Cornmeal is the worst!!! The better the cornmeal, the more the bugs seem to love it.
I always nuke cornmeal in the micro as soon as I get it home. Let it cool completely so that there's no dampness from steam. Then I store it in an airtight container so that there is NO chance that any bug that survived can travel to other things.
Just to be safe, I keep all my flours and other such in airtight plastic canisters. You can get then at restaurant supply stores or the Container Store. I store dried beans and grains in jars with tight-fitting lids.
Like you, I don't want to devote precious space in the fridge to things that don't need it.
Bugs have the sense to prefer flours, meals, etc. bought at farmers markets, directly from mills, health food stores, organic stuff.
They can colonize an entire pantry in no time flat. Isolating them is the only solution.
Do you leave flour in the paper sack and put the whole thing in the container, or pour it out into the container?
And are you talking about those square plastic containers like Alton Brown always uses?
Very interesting about nuking it. I know some bug eggs can survive freezing.