"OUT! OUT! Darned Weevil!"
A few weeks ago I wrote about a tiny bug that was causing a big problem in my pantry - weevil. Since we last talked, I've been studying up on the subject, looking for any and all effective preventions.
Besides keeping things ultra-clean (and please know I'm in no way discounting this step), there is a handy product we can use to keep our grain products bug-free-oxygen absorbers. You've seen them. They're the little flat squares of "something" that we toss after we open that new purse, pair of shoes, or other consumer goods that we just purchased.
An oxygen absorber is a small packet of material used to prolong the shelf life of food. They are used in food packaging to prevent food color change, to stop oils in foods from becoming rancid, to retard the growth of oxygen-using aerobic microorganisms such as fungi, and to prevent pantry pests (weevil) from taking up residence.
Oxygen absorbers are made in different formulations to match the water activity of the foods or goods they are protecting. Some are designed to be used in dry foods such as nuts and dried grains, others with moister foods such as bread and processed meats, the active ingredient is iron powder and a little bit of water in most of the formulations. Some other ingredient may be added to make the oxygen absorbers work more efficiently as well. You'll see they come in different strengths as well, 100cc to 500cc. And they usually come in packages of 100.
The thing to remember, however, is that the container our product is stored in is as crucial as the use of the oxygen absorber. They work best and last the longest in a container that has high barrier packaging (with a low oxygen transmission rate) and an efficient seal technique. In other words, a glass jar with tight-fitting lid is much more effective than the paper bag the flour, oats, etc. comes in.
There are lots of places where we can get these. Online I like Honeyville Wheat, and USA Emergency Supply, and Amazon.com (just type in oxygen absorbers). They're also available at preparedness and emergency essential stores - you may have one in your area.
With the cost of food continuing to go up, it makes good sense to protect our purchases - food waste just isn't good. So take a look at this idea and see if it isn't a smart way to outsmart those darned weevil!