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pest-proof sugar storage

  • b

After finding several large black ants frolicking in my sugar canister, I have decided to get rid of the old Ikea set and buy something that really seals. I keep several canisters on my counter, and would like something glass if possible. I don't store any more than 5 lbs. or so of sugar or flour. Any suggestions? tia

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  1. I keep my flour in the freezer so it'll keep longer, and my sugar in a big mason jar. It's not fancy, but no moisture gets in to clump things up.

    1. I keep rice in large clear glass cannisters that can store up to a few gallons, depending on size. The Container Store has them -- I think they are called glass cannisters. They close well, but the lids can be moved off center. Put them in a place where you are unlikely to bump into them -- such as on a counter and against the backsplash. I really like these a lot because they are not too expensive, and they are good looking in a classic way. The range of sizes is very practical for bulk storage.

      Between you and me, if I had to put everything in the freezer I'd need a second chest freezer in my garage. Enough already with freezing everything.


      3 Replies
      1. re: RGC1982

        What all do you have in your freezer? Mine's mostly ice cubes and ingredients (the flour, fish, veggies) and usually a pizza. Back in the day I remember splitting cake recipes and freezing half, but it's been years since I had that kind of time.

        1. re: saacnmama

          In my chest freezer, I mostly keep large packs of things like ice cream bars, mini-frozen pizzas from a warehouse club, about a dozen nukable meals for my daughter to snack on when I am not at home. One visit to Costco or Sam's can add a couple of cartons. At the bottom I have my stash of chicken backs and ham bones for soup and red beans and rice. All I need to do is add some flank steaks, a brisket (cut into three pieces for manageability) and a bag of ice (we use coolers a lot here for kid sport in Texas) and you have a pretty full freezer. I would hate having to fish through this thing looking for coffee, sugar, etc.

          In my refrigerator freezer, bags of frozen shrimp, chickens and chicken pieces, steaks, etc. plus a stash of frozen veggies, mozzarella and ice packs and ice cream do a pretty good job of filling it. This stuff is more accessible because it is in the kitchen.

          1. re: RGC1982

            My goodness! No wonder there's no room for coffee or flour in your freezer.
            If you can take a playful poke, I'll suggest that you are in an odd position to write "Enough already with freezing everything".

      2. How about some preserving jars? They will keep the blighters at bay:


        Maybe a little small for 5lbs, but keep the balance of your purchase in tupperware in a cupboard.

        1. Target sells large glass jars with screw on lids in a variety of sizes that look nice and are quite functional. They're wide-mouthed so it's easy to measure out the sugar. YOu can find them in the kitchenware department. I keep my sugar in one.

          1 Reply
          1. re: karmalaw

            I have about eight of those jars all lined up on the top rack of a big wire shelving unit in my kitchen. They contain sugar, brown sugar (both light and dark) vanilla sugar, confectioner's sugar, flour, rice, etc. I've had them for years and I've never had a single bug and the brown sugars stay soft. And I really like tey way they look too. :)

          2. Try these


            These are canning jars with a clamp seal and rubber ring. They come in sizes from a pint to a gallon. I use the gallon size for 5lb bags of sugar and flour. Works well. You can probably find them for less $ elsewhere. I also use the smaller ones for rice and nuts.

            1 Reply
            1. re: iluvcookies

              These will stay closed better than the glass cannisters I use, but I'm okay with mine because they are out of the way.

            2. Ikea has some large glass jars that work very well and are pretty cheap. The tops have a flexible plastic seal that keeps the bugs out. They come in several sizes.


              1. If it's for day-to-day use, then I've found that tiffins are great. Inexpensive, usually stainless steel, and relatively tight-closing (but not so tight that it's a pain to remove the lid). Not glass, nor are they fancy, but they're super-functional.

                Just go to your closest East-Indian market, or even a dollar-store - almost every dollar-tore I've been to that's run by East-Indians have them.

                1. I like the OXO pop canisters. They're a little pricey, but I've been using them for about 6 months, and they work well. You can find them all over... Amazon, Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.

                  1. If this is the first time you have seen ants, is it possible they arrived in your latest bag of sugar? Dump this batch and continue using your Ikea canisters to test the theory.

                    I suppose if they re-appear, you will need a different storage system from what you already own. But if these frolicking black ants (great visual!) are an anomoly, you'll be able to keep your old friend canisters.

                    1. I've been using the lock and lock containers with success for my dry goods.
                      Hope you find something you like.. it's such a pain.

                      Also.. a friend told me to put Bay Leaves loose in the cabinet. Supposedly they are a natural ant repellent. Not sure if it's an old wives tale or not.. but I put some in the cabinet I had issues with and haven't had them since.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: grnidkjun

                        I use bay leaves inside the bag of flour and cornmeal but not for sugar, though I've never had a problem with sugar, and No the flour does not taste like bay. My sugar resides inside an old 70s style Swedish metal cannister with a wooden cover. They were all the rage back in the Dark Ages. However the sugar (organic) is in its original bag closed tight with an elastic inside said cannister.

                      2. I find it important to have a large enough opening for dipping a cup measure into sugar or flour. And I'm too impatient to unscrew a lid every time I need an ingredient. So for me, these Rubbermaid containers are the thing:


                        They open and close quickly, have a tight seal, hold at least 5 pounds flour, and have a wide top. Some would say they're ugly -- I like to think there's beauty in their sheer functionality.

                        1. Thanks for all the replies, everyone. There are some great ideas. Zeldog, the Ikea canisters were the ones I was using! I think my downfall was putting the lids in the dishwasher. They were aluminum and not dishwasher safe, so they became etched. Also, the plastic seemed pretty warped after that, and they would not stay on securely. My own fault.

                          I think I'm going to give these Tramontina stainless/glass canisters a try. Any thoughts?


                          I'm also going to pick up some Libby Vibe canisters for the smaller things. They are priced very reasonably, and when I checked them at Target they seemed to seal pretty well.


                          In the meantime, things are under control thanks to a visit from the exterminator. This happens every few years...all of a sudden, a swarm of ants, and then calm for a while.

                          Once again, thanks for all the suggestions.

                          1. I just read the original post and I must've read it too quickly, because instead of "frolicking", I read some other word that starts with an "f" and ends in "ing". Goodness, if that's what the ants were doing in my sugar canister, I too would be looking for some secure storage.

                            BTW, I've got mine in some VERY old metal canisters I got at IKEA (the old Plymouth Meeting store, which was the first one opened in the US). Bue and white striped containers with a tight seal, so much so that I have broken several nails trying to open the sugar or flour. But not pretty enough to display. My displayed bulk goods are in glass canisters with screw top lids that I got at Michaels. I, too, put one of the lids in the dishwasher to bad results. Lesson learned!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: nofunlatte

                              Ha, too funny. I don't know much about the mating habits of ants, but they did look like they were having an awful lot of fun. I must say, that was one of the words that came to mind when I discovered them!

                              There's a Michael's not too far from me...I'll check it out. Thanks. Can't beat some of their prices.

                              1. re: bear

                                Actually, now that I think about it, it may have been Hobby Lobby--same kind of crap, but you'll have to wait until Monday to shop!

                            2. Any kind of screw-on glass jar will work just fine. Get a small one for your brown sugar, and it will stay soft in there longer than you can imagine.

                              Incidentally, a 5 pound bag of flour is 1 gallon on the nose. A 4 pound bag of sugar is a little over 9 cups, and a 10 pound bag of sugar is a little under 1.5 gallons. A 2 pound bag of brown sugar is a little over a quart.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                JK Grence, that is really helpful info. I was wondering about sizing for whole bags, but too lazy to research it. You did my work for me! It's appreciated, as well as the suggestions for keeping brown sugar soft.

                                1. re: bear

                                  Thanks! I bake a ton, so 5 ounces per cup of flour and 7 ounces per cup of sugar are both stuck in my brain quite well.

                              2. No ants in the sugar here, but when our old Ikea "stainless" canisters started corroding, I found an all-ceramic canister at a garage sale...and the nice part is, there's some silicone (I think) or plasticky ring just inside the rim of the lid that grabs onto the base. That makes for a pretty tight seal; you just have to tug a tiny bit on the lid to loosen it.

                                Made in China, no company name. Ceramic is cleanable so always looks good.