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I have recently decided that I'd rather have base ingredients that I am store in my pantry in order to make more meals from scratch as opposed to getting things premade. A friend of mine told me there's no way that they would store flour anywhere but the fridge, otherwise it would eventually get bugs in it.

I have looked around and found these two related questions:

Is it okay to keep flour in the freezer?

What is the best way to store the whole wheat flour for daily usage?

However I don't think that either really addresses specifically the concern of bugs, or the preferred storage location of pantry vs. fridge vs. freezer. I don't do much baking, but I wouldn't be opposed to starting (provided that my flour doesn't get bugs in it!) For now though, most of my uses of flour would be in small amounts for stovetop recipes and the occasional breading, so I'm not too concerned about my flour not rising properly (mentioned here), or throwing off the baking time because of a temperature difference (mentioned here). Is the fridge enough to stop the bugs? Or is a freezer necessary? Is the container being airtight the only thing that matters?

EDIT: In response to a comment, I am located in Minnesota, in the United States Midwest region.

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    Where are you based? The prevalence of bugs in houses, and the prevalence of bugs in the flour you buy, is likely to vary by location.
    – dbmag9
    Oct 26 at 18:00
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    I am not sure what we could add beyond the answers contained in the linked questions. Sealed containers are the best way to avoid bugs. They are either in the flour already (or not), or get in if the container is not sealed.
    – moscafj
    Oct 26 at 18:03
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    There's also this question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/5258/… but because it's a compound question none of the answers really cover the re-infestation part of that question. So, answering below.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 26 at 18:04
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    @moscafj I looked at the linked questions, and none of them have answers that particularly address preventing bug infestation, mostly because all three of those questions are primarily asking something else.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 26 at 18:23
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    I solved this by buying smaller quantities (250g instead of 500g or 1kg). If you have easy access to supermarkets, treat the pantry as a distribution centre, not a warehouse.
    – mcalex
    Oct 27 at 3:52
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Based on my personal experience of living in a 100-year-old apartment building, where both pantry moths and flour beetles were basically chronic:

The freezer will prevent bugs more effectively than the fridge, which also works better than the pantry. Particularly, the fridge only keeps bugs from hatching, but the freezer will often kill the eggs. Both the freezer and the fridge (per the other questions) also have the benefit of making whole grains last longer.

However, a lot of us simply don't have the space to put all of our grains and legumes in the fridge or freezer. If you need to put them in the pantry, here's a guide:

  1. Store all grain items, including flour, pasta, crackers, rice, etc., and all dried legumes in airtight thick-walled containers. Glass jars are ideal for this, but heavy hard-walled plastic containers will also work. Plastic bags are insufficient, as flour beetles can tunnel through a freezer bag. Yes, this means removing even new, unopened items from store packaging and putting it into a hard-walled container.
  2. Regularly, at least 3 or 4 times a year, take your whole pantry apart, scrub all surfaces, walls, and cracks, and inspect all containers for infestation. If anything is infested, throw it out outside and clean the container with boiling hot water (or the dishwasher). If you notice moths or beetles, do this cleaning step immediately.

This works because pantry moths, flour beetles, roaches, and other pantry pests come from three sources:

  1. They're already in the product. Bugs often infest grain products in the warehouse or at the store, since they have an effectively infinite food source there. While strong AC at markets will prevent the eggs from hatching, it doesn't kill them and they hatch once you get them into your nice, warm pantry.
  2. They're already in your home. Pantry pests are able to survive on very little food or water and are legendarily difficult to permanently eradicate, since eggs can survive in tiny crevices.
  3. They enter your home from outside in search of food. This is more true of moths and roaches than it is of beetles.

Airtight, thick-walled containers keep pests isolated on either side of the container, so the pests infesting a store product don't get out, and the ones in your home don't get in. The combination of containers and keeping your pantry scrubbed removes temptation for nearby pests, so they don't have a reason to crawl/fly to your pantry in the first place.

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    So the best way to ensure that there wont be any live bugs in the product at any point in the future would be to first freeze the product (kill the eggs) in an airtight container (no condensation when it thaws) and then make sure that the air tight container remains airtight (keeps new bugs out, so they cant lay eggs) Am I gathering all that correctly?
    – Flats
    Oct 26 at 21:04
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    Aside - you can put store-packaged items inside plastic bins. This lets you keep the different age/best-before/use-by/batch info, and the "contents list" which would be handy if you perhaps need to avoid foods with Soy in them (family example there)
    – Criggie
    Oct 27 at 9:11
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    You can get traps (sticky cards impregnated with bug-friendly scent) to see if the little rascals have come back. Replace regularly.
    – RedSonja
    Oct 27 at 13:12
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    Daniel: if someone is freaked out by dead bug eggs in flour, I have very bad news for them.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 27 at 19:35
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    @clockw0rk That may work for some food items, but even the smallest bags of flour my local supermarkets sell are way too big for me to go through in 2 or 3 days. Oct 28 at 17:32
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If there are no bugs in the flour you buy, then storing it in an airtight container will prevent bugs from getting in. This could be your fridge but could equally well be a large tupperware or similar container. In the UK flour is typically sold in supermarkets in paper bags that range from 500g to 2.5kg; I just leave mine in a cupboard and have no problems, but if I was worried about bugs I would put the whole paper bag into a suitable container for storage. The storage location could also make a difference, for example if it is on a shelf in a clean kitchen versus on the floor of a basement.

If there are already bugs in your flour (my instinct is that this should not be a big concern in Minnesota), then they will still be there no matter the containers, but an airtight container will stop them moving between food items (it probably wouldn't be sufficiently airtight to kill them). In a fridge bugs will be less energetic but will not die from the temperature. I would recommend you sift your flour in this case before using it to remove them and any other impurities.

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    I think that is the case in most of europe. I honestly was kinda shoked that people dont all store base ingredients in the house. But maybe in midwest USA there are bugs that prevent you from storing your flour in the paperbag or in tupperware and you have to put it in a freezer? Seems like a problem that doesnt occur in europe.
    – bibleblade
    Oct 27 at 12:00
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    @bibleblade I guess different levels of urbanisation and building materials make a difference; I live in a city in a brick building, which is perhaps very different to a more rural wooden building in terms of friendliness to bugs.
    – dbmag9
    Oct 27 at 12:56
  • I dont know in my country all houses are built with bricks. And I live in a huge city yes, but in like a 50km circle there is nothing except for some very small villages and some single farms. I know many people living in these villages and everyone just stores flour in a paperbag. And everyone is living in a brick house though. No matter if its a flat or house.
    – bibleblade
    Oct 27 at 13:00
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    @bibleblade I've lived in Germany and now I live in Austria. Old, urban buildings each time. I've had flour moth infestation in both locations until I started to store my flour in the freezer. So I believe it has little to do with the country you live in, and more with unaccounted factors we don't really know. (Because anecdotes aren't reliable evidence.) It's true that most people just store their dry foods in the packaging they come in, but that doesn't mean it's a great idea.
    – henning
    Oct 28 at 8:40
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    @nick012000 that's because all of the many, many spiders in your country eat them first.
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 29 at 17:13
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My family has lived in Texas since the 1970's, and keeping flour is a problem. We've found the sure thing is to get a container with a spring-clip latch on the lid. These come in large enough sizes to drop a standard 5 pound package of flour into one, so you don't have to pour it out and label the jar. These come in lightweight plastic now. The container to look for has a metal hinge and buckle mechanism to latch it down tightly, and a washable gasket to form a seal.

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  • Plus, while looking for some containers I'm finding that they have quite a nice aesthetic for the most part. It's a win win!
    – Flats
    Oct 28 at 13:19
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I am partial to this solution, though its viability is dependent on your circumstances. I use food grade 5 gallon plastic buckets to store dry goods like flour, sugar, and rice. A bucket like this:
5 Gallon food safe plastic bucket

from the Home Depot, along with a plastic lid made to twist off easily like this:

Plastic Twist off lid for a 5 gallon bucket

This provides an airtight and watertight storage solution for dry goods, but the aesthetic is not very pleasant, so this solution is best in a situation where you can store the bucket(s) in a pantry or closet out of sight.

These don't take up an insignificant amount of space, so this solution is not the best for those living in smaller apartments without storage.

On the plus side: a 25 lb. bag of flour fills one of these almost exactly, so buying in bulk becomes easier, and the buckets are easily stackable to save space in the pantry if you have multiple dry goods you want to keep on hand. You can find the lids in various colors, so color coding the buckets is easy, too.

These buckets are fairly cheap, too, at least in most of the U.S. Together the two parts above are $17, and can be cheaper if you look for other sources. In places in the western U.S., I have bought them from WINCO for as little as $9 together.

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