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Grain, nut and seed storage- hints and tips

Modern industrialized farming/ storage methods help reduce the chances of bugs and molds, but world-wide 1 pound of grain in every 4 is still lost to rodents, insects and molds.


Little webs under the jar lids, or black weevils in the flour. Unlike ants, flies and cockroaches, cereal bugs don't carry diseases, and even add a little protein and vitamin B-12 to the diet! But they are eating your food, and they spread incredibly quickly, so what to do?

To slow them down, aim to:

  • Store only clean, uncontaminated grains
  • Store grains in a COOL & DRY environment.

At the store-

  • Buy sealed packages.
  • Buy bulk grains and flours from stores with good turnover and no signs of trouble (moths, webs) in their bulk bins.
  • Buy where grains are stored in cool, dry rooms.

At the house-

  • Store grains in a cool, dry place (regular refrigerator is pretty moist). Store all containers off the floor.
  • Date the containers and use the oldest items first.
  • Do NOT mix old flours or grain with new.
  • Put bay leaves in flour canisters, change every 1-2 months. Some folks use eucalyptus leaves, but these have a pretty strong flavor, and you MUST be sure they are food grade (unsprayed untreated), not floral or decorative.
  • Remove any container with buggy contents from the storage area. Bake the contents at 150 degrees for at least 30 minutes, then sift and store in a clean jar and use promptly. Do NOT return this material to the storage area. After emptying the container, wash thoroughly, scald with boiling water, and air dry before reusing.

To kill any eggs:

  • Freeze new, unopened package for 48 hours before opening.
  • Bake at 150 degrees for 30 minutes (this grain will NOT sprout later).

If storing large containers:

  • Get air tight containers. Plastic containers encourage more condensation inside than metal. Drier is better; use enamel lined metal if you can.
  • CO2 / dry ice treatment. Removes oxygen the critters need to live. Using heavy gloves, place several ounces of dry ice in the bottom of the container, slowly pour the grain on top of it. Do NOT use larger amounts of dry ice. Let stand covered, BUT NOT SEALED without disturbing for 12 hours. The air in the can is driven out by the CO2 gas which fills the container from the bottom. After 12 hours, seal the container, but check every 12 hours for any signs of pressure. If the CO2 continues to dissolve, it can push the top off or blow out the sides! Vent any excess pressure, then reseal the container.
  • Silica gel treatment. Keeps the grain too dry to support bug life. Get the 40 gram tins, keep in an airtight container, change every 4-6 weeks, silica gel can be redried in a slow oven.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE). This is NOT the stuff people put in swimming pool filters. Edible diatomaceous earth is a natural combination of silica and trace minerals which has not been heat treated and is available from survivalists via the internet. It acts by drying out insects and eggs so they die. It is not poisonous, or can be washed off whole grains. Don't breath the dust, however; it can be drying and irritating to the lungs. To use DE, mix 1 ounce (2 teaspoons) mixed into a five pound jar of grains. Mix 1 pound (just under 3/4 cup) in each 100 pounds of grains.

If you get weevils or cereal bugs anyway?

Remember, they won't hurt you! Insect eggs and worms are the reason traditional vegan societies did not get vitamin B-12 deficiencies! With improved storage techniques, deficiencies DO develop and this nutrient has had to be supplemented.

Rinsing whole grains gets rid of most critters.

Flours can be sifted through a clean dry nylon stocking (a use for the un-run leg of the panty hose...).

If all else fails, remember black sesame seed, poppyseeds and raisin bits cover a multitude of intrusions (a little cook's joke).


Unlike bugs, molds can be toxic and poisonous, and cannot be rinsed away once they have taken hold in foods. If grains sprout spontaneously or smell moldy, they have been damp enough to grow molds and should be discarded. Damp rye grains are particularly dangerous.

The ONLY way to prevent molding is to make sure the product is thoroughly dried when you store it and stays dry (humidity less than 12%). The diatomaceous earth treatment for bugs above also prevents molds.


What they don't eat, they foul! Rodents must have food and water, so preventing access, eliminating water, and removing food sources are the keys to avoiding infestation. Cockroach eggs come in on brown bags and cartons from the grocery store, try NOT to keep these in your storage area. If you already have these pets, get internet or local professional help!
  • Secure and clean storage areas are important.
  • So are rodent proof storage containers.

Storing in airtight containers off the floor is important.

  • Healthy, well-fed cats with good hunting instincts are still one of the finest rodent preventatives. Don't starve your feline protectors! Nobody can work well when they are hungry or thirsty. Contributor: ET NYC Nutrilink