I need to store rice, beans, lentils another dried goods, in a moist, tropical environment. People commonly just put them in a jar and it seems to work, but there are sometimes problems with weevils and ants. Really small, almost microscopic ants that can get by most threads on a jar lid.
I tried putting dry rice in the microwave and quickly determined that it still contains moisture, since it steamed. I would like to slow roast, or microwave dry goods, and then put them in a mason jar, for storage.
The only problem I can see with this, is that there is much more air involved than there is with canning fruit or soup. So it might develop a super vacuum, which is difficult to relieve, without breaking the jar.
I saw some things on the internet that called themselves dry canning, but it involved getting rid of the oxygen. I'm wondering if it could be done in the same way as fruit and jam.
I have a coastal get away. I'm doing similar things as you to not use refrigeration (electricity useage as well as contamination from power outages when i am away). Humidity is high so keeping moisture out is a priority.
Vacuum sealing using Mason jars have worked well. Other option was foodsaver pouches but lots of plastic used.
I vac seal them in one person size for cereal and oatmeal and family meal size for cooking stuff like rice, cream of wheat. It works well. My rice is 2:1 so a full jar of rice takes 2 jars of water(using the same jar)
Sometimes the lid is bent removing it, otherwise i can reuse everything
Any issues with bugs i suppose i would freeze it while still in bulk form. That should do the trick, but i think your goal is no refrigeration.
You need to tell us how long you want to store it for, and if it is long term storage or if you want to open it day to day.
For rice and beans that you are not using right now, so not opening day to day, yes, you dry can and remove the oxygen in one of a couple of ways. It will not break the jar or be hard to open. You can use the jar attachment on a seal a meal, in most cases, although there are also better ones, go to a preparedness forum to find others. But, I use the jar attachment on the seal a meal and I dry can grains, beans and dehydrated fruits and veggies this way. You can also just put an Oxygen absorber into the jar, put on the lid and it will pull a vacume. I also, for larger amounts or longer term storage, use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. The rice is put in the mylar bag ( 1 gallon or 5 gallon), you seal the op with a hair straigtening iron most of the way across, pop in an oxygen absorber of the appropriate size, and seal the opening. The mylar is delicate, you need to have it stored in something to protect the mylar, best is a 5 gallon bucket, but sometimes you can use a cardboard box for medium term. In the ropics I would use a bucket. You cannot just use a bucket without mylar for longer term as buckets are not entirely airtight.
For rice, beans, even sugar that I need to get into, I usually use a plastic bucket with a gamma seal lid. The lids are very good and keep ants out here, even out of the sugar. This keeps ants out better than using a glass jar and lid. You can try this with w 2 gallon bucket and gamma lid on your next visit to see how it works for you there.
here in humid subtropic Brazil, my foodie friends (who are crazy international wackos like me and try to preserve their precious bags of indian lentils, brown basmati rice, etc as long as possible between international trips) have had the best luck with plastic bag vacuum sealers. Freezer is great but a) power issues and b) only so much space. After 10+ years of this, I find that I buy local things that get weevilly more frequently, to avoid infestations, and only enjoy the things from far away when I'm far away (whcih makes them so much more delicious). Most things I don't buy more than a kg of, and I store them in glass jars.
The locals (like my uncle, who grew his own beans and grains) tend to use what is more easily found and store them in plastic coke bottles and through squeezing can get a tiny bit of negative pressure. Most people put some bay leaves to cut down on the weevils, which may or may not work depending on your luck.
If I need to stop tiny ants, I might add a layer of food grade D. E. to each container.
Separate it from the dry beans/rice with a cloth and you might even be able to reuse it.
Mix it in with the food for smooth skin,glossy hair and strong teeth.
I'm sure I have seen those oxygen absorbers many times. I thought they were there to absorb moisture and I've never given them much thought. For long-term stuff I could see that making sense.
I'm not planning to preserve anything exotic, just the things that are available in the local market place. It's really just because I think we should have some food on hand, for when large numbers of people come or in case of some disruption in the supply. During my time there, our landlord typically ran completely out of food, and her children came to us. This continued after I left. It would be nice to have extra on hand that could be sold to the person who shows up wanting 2 cups of rice. I didn't meet anyone who is truly hungry, where alcohol wasn't the root cause.
The bay leaves are good idea and probably neem leaves and leaves of other spices could work. And I could probably rig something pretty simple for moisture absorbing. Something as simple as pieces of neem wood dried by the fire.
I've never used diatomaceous earth, but sounds like a good way to deal with ants and weevils.
I hear you. Something I learned living in Asia as well as here is to go visit older people and see how they do it/did it in the old times, you sometimes get some good ideas. My old aunties here store their rice and beans in large metal paint cans with a pry-off lid, like they did ages ago. They used to get those in 50# bags and they had to last for months. The generation in the middle sounds like what you saw- people who are used to not buying in bulk because no money or no space for storage, and those habits got lost in the meantime.
(relevant to your other post, my aunties stored the pork when they killed a pig by "potting" it in its own lard in a large metal tin. A few years ago we went to visit and there was this horrible stench, it was the pork, which they had decided to make [all my aunties are mid-80s and at the point where they get together and decide to do things on a whim. this was one of those things]. Sometimes those old ways are best ignored; I'm not sure how anyone was left alive to reproduce and carry on the family line.)
When I first started storing dry foods (pre Y2K, as a homesteader) the old methods were via paint cans (I can still find them at the local big-box hardware/lumber store like Lowe's or Home Depot), or oven canned in glass jars. I have used both and they worked well, except I did not care for the fragility of glass jars for storage.
As Y2K approached I read of (and tried) using the then-new plastic pails with lids, sealed with silicone caulk to keep air-moisture out. I put 10-lb bags of rice & beans in those pails, after freezing them twice (a month apart) to kill any bugs. It worked, but was VERY messy and unpleasant as a sealing method, as the caulk took FOREVER to dry and was very goopy. I also worried about chemicals affecting the taste of the foods, so I did not use that method for long term (over a year) storage.
Then mylar bags became commonly available, and mylar bags with oxygen absorbers work extremely well for me now, I am rotating rice and coffee sealed over 10 years ago that are in excellent shape. I got the bags large enough to fit in a plastic pail (from Wal mart, or recycled from restaurants). The seal on the pail need not be perfect, it is there to protect the mylar from rodents & punctures, and the mylar bags sealed with an iron do pull a vacuum with oxygen absorbers. I have also included dessicant bags in the mylar bags, as I used to store my pails in an outdoor ( extremely humid) root cellar.
BTW, if you lightly coat any metal cans with a very thin layer of mineral oil (the stuff from the pharmacy is food grade in case opening the can causes some to get in the food) you can keep cans from rusting under humid conditions. In my root cellar, metal cans would rust through in three years, but when coated with mineral oil they lasted 6 years and showed no rust (I relocated after 7 years, so that was the limit of the experiment time). The root cellar was cold enough to increase food storage times dramatically but still not freeze. So now I live in a HOT humid climate, but still utilize mylar bags in pails, and mineral oil coats on metal cans to keep my food dry for long term storage. (Yes, the mineral oil also keeps canning jar lids pristine and rust free, too.) Just put some on a rag and wipe down any metal container leaving a very light film of mineral oil (enough to show fingerprints). Wipe the container before opening though, because the mineral oil attracts dust like crazy!
I learned about the mineral oil while researching how sailing craft kept their metal containers rust free on long voyages...Look on sailing forums for info on how they store foods without power while on sailing trips, it is fascinating!
Diatomaceous earth works well. I have also had luck including a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. The fumes kill off the insects. Or at least that is what I was told, and I have not had insect infestations in my dry goods when using this trick, but it could be coincidence.
Jennifer Richardson wrote:I have also had luck including a cotton ball soaked in alcohol. The fumes kill off the insects.
Any kind/concentration of alcohol in specific? (I could use vodka, about 38%, or I can get cane ethanol in various concentrations, 46 and 75 most easily. No DE here, unfortunately).
I'd be up for testing this, just harvested a few kg of big broad beans I`d like to keep for a while.
I used a plain bottle of rubbing alcohol. Not sure of the concentration. I think it was isopropyl although it could have been ethanol. I stuck the cotton ball to the underside of the lid so it wouldn’t get on the rice and ruin the flavor. Rubbing alcohol is also poisonous if ingested in significant quantities. I wonder though if strong drinking alcohol would work just as well. Sorry not to be more helpful!
that is actually super helpful!
isopropyl is apparently usually 70% alcohol; there is that business of it being denatured and poisonous, but since it is evaporating among all the stuff (maybe gassing out when you open it?) and in such a tiny quantity I imagine it's a moot point. Since my options here are non-denatured, it's all good for me. Thanks and I'll report back with what I learn!
For now, I have gone really low tech with this. My motorcycle seat is the hottest place in Cebu Philippines. Guess how I found out about that !😨
We have clear storage containers with screw tops. I put containers to be dried on the bike seat, in the sun with the lid loosely placed. It doesn't take long to greatly reduce the amount of water, even when humidity outside is 80%. I used my electronic scale to determine that at 80% humidity , our salt becomes about 3% moisture by weight. I laid it out on a flat plate and weighed it after 1 hour. It had lost 3% of its weight. Another three hours on the hot bike seat did not change that. In fact, it seemed pretty dry after 15 minutes.
I've done this with a few different products that we don't want to deteriorate or cake. Milo is a popular powdered drink. It gets hard on top if the moisture becomes too high. We also have powdered milk.
It doesn't take very long, so I'm not worried about the amount of solar exposure. I mostly do it on overcast days.
The little ants haven't been a problem since they run from extreme heat. A few times , a container has been left open on the table and it attracts hundreds of ants. Nova was going to throw out some sugar because of this. I put it on the bike seat and within a couple minutes, every ant fled the scene. Then I let it get nice and hot which dried it out , but was mostly done because she was worried that these ants carried every disease on earth. I'm pretty sure that we eat a few ants every day. They are incredibly small.