*"Dad, There's Bugs in the Flour"*
This morning we ran out of white flour in our upstairs container. "No problem" said I, "There's plenty downstairs. Go get 2 bags."
"Dad, there's bugs in the flour."
"That's a problem", I replied (or words to that effect; really, it was close to those exact words, kinda...).
I had played roulette with storing white flour. Face it, we all play roulette every day. We balance risk against cost in almost every act of life. If you refuse to face the risk of going outside for fear of fast-moving trucks or the occasional passing asteroid you'll go bankrupt and eventually starve to death. If you refuse to get out of bed for fear of falling you'll likely die of septicemia from massive bedsores. We all do it. This time I lost!
Why Do It?
I store white flour for two reasons:
Acceptability: I've gotten my family up to 2/3'rds whole wheat flour in most baked goods, but we're stuck there. They demand some white flour in their biscuits for texture, etc. Chocolate chip cookies and cinnamon bread are still 100% white flour and my daughter the holiday baker ain't budging from that.
Bridge Food: They'll need some adjustment time (though much less than most) to make the slide from 2/3'rds to 100% wheat flour when de balloon goes up. Also the store of flour gives us some free time during that transition when we'll be busy with other things than cranking a grain mill.
The Bad System
I've been storing all-purpose white flour in 5-lb bags in a massive tote; a Rubbermaid ActionPacker aka footlocker meant to ride around in the back of a pickup truck. I stacked the dated bags two deep and about 12 per layer so I could maintain rotation. I've been hitting the tote with CO2 every time I add bags. I forgot to the last time.
Yep - forget just one major step (which ones are 'minor' by the way?) and ya pay!!
Another mistake is that I had not been pre-treating the flour in any way. The CO2 would be enough, I thought, to prevent any outside infestation and contain anything that rode in with a package I bought.
Upon investigation I found I had both Dermestid (aka Larder or Warehouse) Beetles and (probably) Grain Mites. That led to 110 lb of flour being pitched, followed by a thorough cleaning of the containers and immediate environs (aka a GI Party; with my face I can't claim to have 'pulled a Cinderella').
What I Changed
Smaller Containers: I switched to clear plastic containers that hold seven 5-lb bags each. That way I can see problems easier (vs the opaque black plastic of the big tote) and any infestation I do get costs me less. The extra cost in containers is offset by the savings from any future losses of flour. Containers are labeled A thru D to aid in stock rotation.
Pre-Treatment: All flour goes through 1 week in the deep freeze before entering storage.
What I Didn't Change
Source: all stores and warehouses get hit by bugs. I learned that as a food inspector in the Air Force.
Labeling: I still mark each bag with month and year of purchase.
Sugar: I still store my sugar the same way I used to store the flour. As long as it's dry it has no pests.
So, how's it going? Ask me in 5 years. That's how long I'd been doing it a bad way.
But, as Robin Williams says in 'Aladdin': "He can be taught!"
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