Krishnan and I like watching the airport related programs on TV. They show different international airports and the kind of security protocols they have to catch thieves and drug carriers. It shows how normal poor people are forced or tricked into transporting drugs. Some of course are regular carriers. 🙁
One of programs is based in the US. The US ones are fascinating because its a place I have visited several times. I have trained many young executives for their first trip to the US. One of the important things we always mentioned in the training was about not carrying food stuff ! The US has very strange laws on passengers bringing in food stuff – grains, seeds etc are not allowed.
In today’s program one of the officers stopped a guy coming from Nigeria and picked out two bags of lentils. She looked carefully and found that both of them had storage pests ! I was laughing because in India, as soon as Summer hits, most of the stored lentils and rice would have those small black storage pests. We just wash them out and use the product !!
Avoiding Storage Pests
All organic products will get storage pests and they have to be managed. One of the effective ways to minimise or eliminate these pests is to pour a small quantity of groundnut oil and mix it in. See the photo below –
This is Chana Dal coated with ground nut (peanut) oil. It won’t attract any pests. In the same way, I store Urad Dal because Urad Dal always gets these tiny black pests that reduce it to a powder if you miss them.
During winters, there is no need to do this. But during summers and the rainy season, we have to store things more carefully.
Please use air tight glass bottles to store your spices. They will lose the aroma and become soggy besides getting infested with pests and worms. For expensive spices like cardamom and cloves, I fold a paper napkin into the lid so that any extra moisture gets absorbed.
Moisture is the biggest enemy for spices and pickles. Wipe your hands dry before touching any of the spices or pickles. Use a dry spoon always. I always keep small quantities of the spices for regular use and keep refilling once a week or fortnightly.
Added on June 4 –
You can dry roast the regularly used spices like Jeera, Saunf, Coriander seeds, Sesame Seeds etc. Its very handy when you want to make Garam Masala or other spice blends if these spices are dry roasted.
Plastic bottles and plastic bags are not great storage options for spices or pickles. In summers, moisture will be formed and the entire product may get spoilt, unless you can vacuum seal the pack. Steel canisters work but again, they are opaque, so you never can check them out fully.
The Grain Stores
Both my paternal and maternal grandfathers were farmers and would store large quantities of rice and lentils at home. The grains would be stored in large mud domes which had a small door at the bottom to take the grain out. The mud walls would keep the grains cool and pest free throughout the year. I was remembering the store room in my paternal grandparents house … its still the same. I must remember to take pictures before all of it gets changed to modern storage systems.
I like to buy larger quantities of rice and lentils and store them because smaller quantities means a lot more plastic bags :(. Hopefully the pandemic comes to an end soon and we are able to go out and buy all the products in a cloth bag. Its sad to see the increase in plastic usage because everything gets delivered home during the pandemic.
Do share some of your storage techniques and remember to use only ground nut oil for the lentils. No other oil works as well. My father would also use castor oil, but pure castor oil is not available easily these days.