Ask Tess: What’s the best way to prevent bug infestations in my long term food pantry?

I like that you are looking into the best method in protecting your food investment. Insects are one of the food enemies that can wreak havoc on your food stuffs. There are a few different ways you can go about protecting your food sources from insects.

Hello Tess!  I discovered your site from a Channel 26 broadcast video.  I have read and watched Youtube vids TIRELESSLY and cannot come up with a concrete answer regarding FREEZING RICE-or other grains for that matter.  The issue is killing the bugs without introducing any moisture into the package.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the best for our needs is to pack, vacuum and seal one quart bags of rice with an o2 absorber.  THEN freeze the vacuum packed bag for 6 days to make sure any existing bugs are dead.  Then remove and lay out to warm to normal room/storage temperature. The problem is that until I actually OPEN the bag I won’t know if the freezing would introduce any moisture from the freeze and thaw. What say you?

 K

Answer:

Hello,


I like that you are looking into the best method in protecting your food investment. Insects are one of the food enemies that can wreak havoc on your food stuffs. There are a few different ways you can go about protecting your food sources from insects. Keep in mind that insects are cold blooded and respond to changes in temperature. As temperatures are lowered, activity decreases. Lower the temperature quickly and you quickly kill these pests. Conversely, as temperatures increase, life expectancy is shortened, activities increase until some vital biological process is unable to continue – pest activity ceases and/or the pests die.

Freezer Method: You can store your food products in a freezer (not a self-defrosting kind) at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 days. Then, after the four days has passed, pack the foods normally and add an oxygen absorber. Also consider adding a bay leaf for added measure to discourage weevils. Freezing your grains will not introduce any additional moisture. Also wiping the storage area down with equal parts of eucalyptus and tea tree oil will also discourage bug infestations.

Heat Method: Heat can also be used to kill stored product pests by placing stored products in a shallow tray or baking sheet in an oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes with the oven door propped open a few inches and stirring the material every few minutes.

 Organic Option: Diatomaceous earth can also be sprinkled on top of food sources to deter any bug infestations. Ensure this organic option is food-grade DE. Use 1 cup to each 25 pounds of food.



Once your food stores are all packed up and ready for the storage area, you can go one step further in protecting your stored food sources. Simply wiping the storage area down with equal parts of eucalyptus and tea tree oil will keep bug infestations at a minimum.

If you are interested in reading more on these subjects, here are a few articles that I wrote on the subject.

Meet Your Emergency Food’s Worst Enemies

Best Practices For Long Term Food Storage


Oxygen Absorber Chart

From a personal standpoint, I started packing food away in 2006 and have never had an issue with infestations. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks!

Tess

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on February 26th, 2015