If there is one thing I love about living in Nairobi it is the abundant life in our garden: butterflies, caterpillars, locust, the occasional frog, an army of geckos but I draw the line when it digs into the food supply. Opening a solid jar and then finding the fine webs of the pantry moth or tiny insect crawling to the surface of lentils is gross.
Insects, food infestations and fungus are a huge problem in any country and it has nothing to do with kitchen hygiene alone. Keeping all food stored in glass, plastic or metal air tight containers solves about 90% of the it but sometimes just happens. My mother in law is one smart cookie when it comes to preventing food pests and her storage has not one single infestation ever. She learned some great simple methods from people with food businesses who stock in bulk. Hope this might help you in Kenya, or where ever you are, on how to keep your foods insect free from bruchids, bean borers and moths of various kinds. Most important to me, there is not poison involved and it’s all natural.
Got this from local Indian moms including my mother in law and yes I too lifted an eyebrow. However this has been magic. Taking just the simple ashes from the Jiko (the mini stove, you simply can’t live without) sieve it and just sprinkling it generously on the beans and dal in its container. Do I need to say that you have to rinse that before cooking? Naaahh right?
Turmeric, or Haldi, the bright yellow spice no curry can do without is not only a very healthy addition to your diet but can lightly sprinkled into containers with beans, lentils, rice etc to keep insects away. It apparently doubles very well as an insecticide in the vegetable garden. This is next on my agenda and there will be a post on it.
Cloves added to containers of nuts and beans will make any insect turn on their heels. A very faint taste of cloves might be left on the food if it is in the jar for a long time. In that case you can also just leave cloves on the shelves. For an average kitchen pantry you would want to leave about 10 per large shelf. It doesn’t need a lot of refreshing and it can stay there for months.
One day I opened a container of dal and found some bruchids making their way up. I was immediately grossed out and was ready to throw it all away. When I showed our household staff, she put it all on a baking tray and put it in the sun where they crawled out and died. All the dal had already been nibbled on and I would not be comfortable eating it but this way we could still add it to the dog food little by little and it would not infest anything.
Head a teaspoon of oil and pour it over uncooked rice spread out on a baking sheet. Now, this one is something that apparently also keeps al insects away but I don’t know the mechanics behind it. It just works. Even asked my mother in law before getting into this post but she wasn’t sure. It works and it doesn’t change the flavour of the rice in no way either.
Let me know where you are and if this worked for you. Would love to hear all about it.