How To Keep Insects Our Of Your Stored Grains
Because grains go from farm to table without being washed in water or treated with chemicals, insect eggs are usually present in wheat and other grains, even though you can't see them. So the real question is not how to keep the insects OUT of your grains, but rather how to keep them from hatching. There are a number of ways to do this. I'm going to show you how to keep your grains safe using oxygen absorbers, diatomaceous earth, and a couple of other methods. We'll also talk about which grains are most susceptible to insect damage, why Gamma Seal Lids are an excellent way to top off your food storage pails, and how to use them.
Pre-Sealed Storage Pails
Insects need oxygen to breathe, just like we do. If you buy your grains in pre-sealed storage pails, you won’t need to worry about bugs since there is no available oxygen inside the pails. Once you break the seal, oxygen fills the pail, and you no longer have an oxygen-free environment. so you'll need to start using up the grain.
Adding oxygen absorbers to a pail or jar of grain gives you the same kind of protection as buying pre-sealed pails, and it's one of the easiest and most effective ways to store grains and beans. Here’s how to do it.
1. Assemble all the pails or jars you’ll be filling with grain and the grain itself. Once you open your packaged oxygen absorbers, you’ll need to get them into your sealed containers within about 10 minutes because they start working as soon as you open the packaging. If you will have extra oxygen absorbers, you can store them in a glass mason jar with a tight fitting lid and use them later.
2. Label each pail or jar.
3. Next, you’ll need to figure out how many oxygen absorbers to add. This is calculated based on the volume of the pail and the size of the pieces you’ll be storing (i.e. small, dense grains like wheat or larger beans). For storing wheat, here’s what you’ll need for each pail:
- For a 6 gallon pail of wheat or similar-sized grain, use 1,000 to 2,000 cc of oxygen absorber packets.
- For a 5 gallon pail of wheat or similar-sized grain, use 1,000 to 1,500 cc of oxygen absorber packets.
- For a 1 gallon pail or jar of wheat or similar-sized grain, use 500 cc of oxygen absorber packets.
- For storing beans, which are less dense and have more air space between them, double these amounts.
It'ts fine to use a more than the recommended amounts of cc’s, but do not use less.
4. Put approximately half the oxygen absorber packets you’ll use for each pail into the bottom of each pail. Then fill the pail about half way. Now add the rest of the oxygen absorber packets and fill the pails with grain leaving about an inch of space at the top. Fasten the lid on and you’re done.
Gamma Seal Lids For Long Term Food Storage Pails
Gamma Seal Lids are especially good to use on your long term food storage pails because of their high quality seal. Unlike traditional pail lids, the Gamma Lid is designed with a seal that will never warp because the lid is turned into place, never pried off. If you plan to keep your pails of grain or beans for several months or years, your pail needs to be completely air tight, and the Gamma Seal Lid provides this excellent seal. The Gamma lid will keep critters and moisture out of your food and lock in the freshness of the product you’re storing. Gamma Seal lids are incredibly convenient to use on pails that you open and close daily too. Order Gamma Seal Lids Here for local pick up or here to have your gamma lids shipped.
Can I Use A Gamma Seal Lid On A Pail With Oxygen Absorbers Inside?
Yes! That’s what Gamma Lids were created for. As long as you do not open the lid, your oxygen absorbers will protect the contents of your pail for many years. Forgive me if this is obvious to you, but a lot of people assume they can open and close, open and close their pail, and that the oxygen absorbers inside will continue to keep their grain in a zero oxygen environment. This is not the case. Oxygen absorbers remove the oxygen from an enclosed environment, such as the inside of a pail, and there is a limit to the amount of oxygen they can absorb.
When you open the pail, the oxygen absorber will begin to absorb oxygen from the air around you until it runs out of absorbing power. Then when you close the lid again, there will be oxygen inside that the absorber cannot absorb because it is spent already. If you want the oxygen absorbers to do their job, they must remain in a sealed environment. Once you open the pail, you’ll need to begin using the food inside, or else you’ll need to add more oxygen absorbers and re-seal the pail.
Whole wheat will stay fresh without freezing, but freezing it will keep any insects from hatching. Grains stored in Ziplock bags in the freezer will remain bug free indefinitely.
Dry ice works by replacing the oxygen in your storage pail with CO2, which doesn’t support insect life. Place ¼ pound of dry ice in the bottom of a 5 gallon storage pail. Fill the pail ¾ full of grain and set the lid on the pail, but don’t seal it. Keep the pail away from drafts so that the CO2, which is heavier than air, stays in the container. After about 2 hours, when you’re sure the dry ice has sublimated (melted), seal the pail. Any one of these easy techniques will keep your grain safe and bug free for years to come and ensure successful grain storage.
Which Grains Are Most Susceptible To Insects?
Much of the grain grown in the United States comes from dry, mountainous climates in the north west; arid regions that don't receive much precipitation. In our experience, it takes a longer time for insects to develop in grains that come from these areas, like wheat, barley, and rye.
Can you think of a grain that is often grown directly in water? Rice!
Rice is generally grown in sub-tropical climates where humidity is high and insects abound. For this reason, most of our family's trouble with insects has been with rice. If you plan to store rice for more than a few months, definitely use one of the storage methods we discussed above. Otherwise, we recommend you purchase an amount that your family can use up within 3 months or so.
Picture Credit: HonestBody.com