Storing Yoshon Products
Products Prone to Bugs: It is advisable for flour, barley, oatmeal and packaged macaroni and cheese mix to be kept in a refrigerator or freezer. They can be very prone to bugs. Bugs thrive in hot humid environments, and are particularly a problem during summer months. This is why a freezer or refrigerator is the most ideal storage method. Flour, barley and macaroni products tend to be very prone to getting bugs. Since microscopic eggs can already present in grain foods, preventing ideal conditions for hatching is the key. Eating bugs is forbidden, so we do our best to prevent the problem before it starts. Keep items in a dry room with low humidity and low temperature.
The biggest pests to watch out for are tiny bugs called psocids (left). They especially love oatmeal and creamy-wheat cereals. Extremely prolific, they can take over an item in a couple days, and it is a nightmarish sight. I have a rule that anytime I buy Cream of Wheat or oatmeal, it goes directly in the fridge. Not only do products stay bug-free, but stay fresher in a refrigerator or freezer. Always look for airtight bags, like the one to the right. Give it a squeeze, and if it balloons up it's airtight. If it hisses or gradually deflates, it can be prone to bugs and getting stale.
Cold Storage: A bag of flour stored in the freezer will stay fresh for two years! Smaller items can be kept in a vegetable bin or in the back. If you have a lot of room, an extra freezer can come in really handy. Dry products such as flour, oatmeal, barley, pasta and cereal will stay fresh easily until the next Pesach if stored properly.
Containers: One can keep larger items in a large, well-sealing plastic container with a lid. This will help prevent any new bugs from getting in. This works well for items that are known to be airtight from the start. Items that may not be airtight, or are already open, could have a risk of bugs, as eggs can be harbored on the outside, box crevices, or even in the product itself.
Bags: A less expensive, excellent alternative to a freezer, large plastic bin or extra fridge, is to invest in some boxes of large plastic zipper bags, the kind that lock and seal all the way across. Try not to get the kind with a sliding plastic zip mechanism, they aren't always airtight. Place the item in the bag, get as much air out as you can, and zip quickly. The less air in the bag, the fresher it will keep. A 4-lb bag of flour will keep nicely in a gallon-sized bag. A 5-lb. bag of flour may fit, it depends on the package. The next size up may even fit 2 5-lb bags. Most cereal is packed very well. Crackers, cookies and breakfast cereals generally are packed in airtight bags and are best stored at room temperature.