Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How do You Prevent Pantry Months, Ants, and Pests?

We had pantry moths a few years after we bought our condo from wild sage we picked on vacation.

How do You Prevent Pantry Months Antsand Pests



I tried to save the bags of flour by putting them in the freezer to kill moth larvae but it was futile. As much as it killed me to throw out food, it was either the food or the moths. The moths had to go!


Now I store my flour, etc. in the bag in a plastic container with a bay leaf taped inside the lid. I do this more as a pantry organization and storage thing than a pantry pest control thing. I think it is time for a change though.

storingryeflour
The four quart mason jars it takes to hold a 5 pound bag of flour. Four jars will not fit in this bin. Actually only one quart jar fits in the bin. I don’t have another place for 3 quart jars full of flour to hang out and wait until I need them.

I want a pantry full of lovely big glass jars with the screw on lids that probably keep my dry goods fresher than my current storage container but my pantry shelves aren't deep enough to hold three big jars of flour.


shallowsmallpantryshelf
Do you know of a glass container that has a smaller footprint than the Oatmeal container  but is large enough to hold a 5 pound bag of flour?

After patting ourselves on the back with the moth situation, concrete ants took a Spring Break vacation on the floor of our pantry.

Concrete ants are harmless, unlike carpenter ants that destroy the wood frame of a house. Concrete ants don’t respond to any of the home ant killers like chalk, cinnamon, or mint which make them more annoying. They only thing concrete ants respond to is death by shoe.

I learned how to prevent pantry ants by:
  • Threw away the open boxes of ant infested hippie colon blow cereals and cardboard oatmeal container hit the trash can faster than dead ants float to the top of a bowl of cereal after you add milk. (It was as gross as it sounds.)
  • Seal gaps in the doorway baseboards with spray foam insulation. Ants don’t like to walk or chew through the sharp interiors of hard spray foam insulation.
  • Poking bits of steel wool with a toothpick into the teeny tiny gaps in our baseboard molding in the pantry that are too small to fill with spray foam insulation. Poor little ants are too sensitive and don’t like to walk on sharp steel wool.
  • Hung a bunch of dried lavender from my lavender bushes (I have tons of it and it works for moths, why not ants?) near the floor and the Ant Pantry Expressway. 

smallpantrystorage3
The revised pantry floor. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have anything stored on the floor. In a small condo, I do.

  • Bought a big glass jar to hold oatmeal because I need a container large enough to hold an entire container of oatmeal at a time. For cereal and granola, I punted and used a bunch of empty plastic coffee cans Husband brought home from his office to recycle at home as temporary BPA free cereal containers that is sorta permanent. I want to replace them with glass but I haven’t found anything the same size and shape yet so they stay. Besides, it is fun to write crazy labels in chalk on the cereal container lids.

howtostorecereal
Husband labeled it “Looks like breakfast, doesn’t smell like your Auntie!” after how Steve from the show Coupling described potpourri.

Due to the small space, I store almost everything in plastic bins with snap on lids I can stack. The bins also keep jars and boxes from falling flopping around on the open metal shelves.


smallpantrystorage2
I recently made labels on the computer for the bins I shuffle so often the chalk rubs off the label. They are fine for the bins at the tippy top that I don’t handle as often.

So far, this kept moths and ants out of the pantry. After my light bulb moment of keeping brown sugar soft by storing it into a jar I’m storing anything that comes in a sealable bag in an empty glass jar to keep it from drying out.

howtostorecoconutflakes
Tip: If your coconut flakes are tan instead of white, they might be a tad too old to use.
Tip #2: Dumping a big bag of tan coconut flakes down a garbage disposal gums everything up like glue. Whoops!

That’s how I accidentally found I had more room in the cupboard not less when I switched to putting bagged items into a glass jar instead of cramming the bags onto the shelf.  Whodathunkit?

howtoorganizecupbaordwithjars
I had had so many bags of dried nuts and fruit for baking/oatmeal crammed onto the top shelf, they always fell out of the cupboard and onto my head. Now they all fit!
The second shelf stores my dehydrator experiments.


Today a Facebook friend (give me a Like won’t you?)  posted a photo of two bushels of strawberries she made into dehydrated fruit roll ups. Bugs ate through the zipper bags she uses to store her homemade fruit roll ups and now they are covered in moth larvae. Yummy!

I thought I had the pantry pest problem licked but from the comments she got, I’m not so sure.
There are people who said they had got pests in unopened boxes of pasta (see above), boxes and tins of tea (NOT MY TEA COLLECTION!), in plastic containers with snap on lids (uh oh), and unopened packages like the bag of croutons pictured in this post.

Recently, my next door neighbor told me she had mice in her garage. New worry! We don't keep food in our garage but it is a hop, skip, and a scurry from the garage to the kitchen where there are all sorts of deliciousness a hungry mouse will want to sample.

I need to make a change and I need your help. My food storage space is limited. Other than the refrigerator, you have seen it all in this post. Will you give me your opinion on what I'd doing right and not so right (like with my tea)?

I have to use food storage containers that hold the entire package. I'd like something affordable since I'll have to switch out just about everything in the pantry. I grocery shop seasonally, so a lot of the type and amounts of food I have in my cupboard and pantry changes with the exception of the six bins with the white labels.

Food storage people what do you do?

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