Not going to be-labor this post.
If you live where winter is a thing – with degree days below freezing – here’s a handy hint:
Collect your flour and rice and meal (including tapioca and arrowroot flours you have for your potentially-Paleo pantry).
Bring it all outside for 3 – 5 days when the weather is predicted to be several degrees below freezing, whether Celsius/Centigrade or Fahrenheit, and is predicted not to go above freezing during that time. The colder, the better. You can do as I did this year, and put in a cooler, or keep in a box or other container. You do want to have a solid container in any case to keep rodents out. The cooler was convenient, but not necessary.
Leave it there. The further this goes below zero (32 F), the less time you need to keep these items out there.
What I do here – when I open a bag upon first use, I try to put the contents in a sealable container. The thing is, most of these items seem to have eggs of some insect interlopers in with those bags. I suspect this can’t be helped. But a hard sealable container is less likely to introduce new “wildlife” than the paper bags. I label and date (month and year). If winter is just around the corner, I can wait to put all these containers outdoors so that the eggs and any larvae are stopped frozen and dead in their tracks. I haven’t had any problems with larvae or those itty bitty flies showing up since then.
Okay, if you don’t have a real winter where you live – or if you’ve gotten some new flour in spring – you can use the freezer to the same effect, but since I have limited space in mine. doing containers two at a time is not really satisfactory. But if this is what you have, you can still do this. I’d leave the containers in there for about a week in those cases as home freezers don’t go much below the freezing temperature of water.
NOTE: I don’t use this technique when weather is going to fluctuate below and above freezing for a few cycles. I’ve had condensation problems back in the day.
USE FOR: Any flour or starch, whether wheat, rice, potato, corn, buckwheat, tapioca, arrowroot, or things I haven’t yet thought of. Any form of oatmeal. Rice grains.
NO NEED WITH: Sugars. Actual pasta or noodles. Baking soda. Baking powder. Cocoa powder.
PUT ALL: Open bags of stuff of this nature into enclosable containers. Open bags are a harvesting minefield for new bugs to come creeping in come late spring… no matter what you did over the winter.
Understandably, if you are worried about your friendly neighborhood mice and related rodents, that’s yet another reason for enclosed containers, especially glass or plastic. And for doing this when the temps will remain below freezing, which also makes scents pretty much undetectable. I also put these in a box – basically for ease of transport from the pantry to the outdoors. You can certainly close up that box or cooler!
I welcome feedback and refinements on this technique! And I do note some of the flours I obtain do end up doing this in my freezer if and when outdoor temperatures fail to cooperate – but just a couple at a time, due to space constraints.
OH! a second note. For labelling your containers, you can buy on line dissolvable label stickers, of various sizes. Label, attach, and when you use up the product – and want something else inside – wash the label off. Just putting it in your dishwasher will suffice. The labels are made out of some sort of sugars, and are quite compostable and safe for your environment. They’re a lovely thing to have around your kitchen or pantry! You can source them on line.