The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rye flour infestation and solution

rff000's picture
rff000

Rye flour infestation and solution

Several months ago I noticed "threads" in rye flour right at the top of a new bag. I think I had seen those before and ignored them, but this time I wanted to find out what was going on, so I took the threads and a little more flour and rinsed them in water. Sure enough--I had something on the order of moth larvae. This had been a bag of Romanian rye flour from a Russian import store and I was quick to place the blame there. So, I bought a bag of Hodgson's Mills rye flour and...the exact same thing happened. After that I assumed that rye flour is not bought by many people in my location (VA), so it probably sits on the shelf and gets infested.

My solution? I have been buying whole rye grains since then and doing my own grinding. No bugs or larvae in the whole grains so far. I get a good grind by first running it through a Marga mill to get a coarse grind, a little like Schrot. The it goes into a Vitamix and almost instantly becomes decent rye flour. I could use the Vitamix for the whole grain, but I thought it might damage the plastic container. Besides, the Marga manual mill is great exercise and the grinding after that is very quick and efficient.

I wonder why flour is packed in such leaky, primitive paper sacks. Couldn't they seal it in large round boxes like oatmeal? Wouldn't that cut down on insects getting into the sacks?

pmccool's picture
pmccool

allowing an opportunity for weevils to infest the flour.  Then again, they are as much a part of the environment as the rye itself.  So, even if you don't see evidence of them, they are just as apt to be in the unground rye kernels as they were in the flour.  Not trying to gross you out, just pointing out that there are several potential reasons for an infestation.

If you put your flour or your grains in the freezer for a few weeks, that should reduce the probability of a new infestation to near zero. 

As it is, by milling your own flour, you are enjoying the best possible flavor so it might just be a blessing in disguise that you were motivated to start grinding your own.

Paul

rff000's picture
rff000

At least if the whole grains look undisturbed, with no visible damage or holes, I feel much more comfortable with them than with ground rye flour that has insects actively crawling around! By the way, my ground whole wheat, whole corn meal and unbleached white flour never seem to have the insect activity I saw in the rye flour, so I haven't bothered to grind those myself yet.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for the health benefits of rye over the other flours!  :)

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Since I order 50 lb bags for my micro-bakery there's no way to keep them in a freezer. For 10 years I was lucky never to have an infestation, but this year the evil weevils attacked: I found them in all the whole grain kernels, especially the rye, in many of the flours and flakes, they only didn't care for white flours.

I sifted through everything, had to throw a lot out, froze what was possible, and bought some tighter closing bins than the practical Ikea toy bins I had been using to house my flours.

And checked around my kitchen several times a day, swatting every moth fluttering and weevil crawling. Their activity seems to have ended for this year, but even though everything appears clean now, who knows what will happen next summer.

A Finnish baker sells breads with ground crickets - maybe I should sell eco-friendly, extra-protein, sustainable Weevil Wheats? Those, also, would go back to the roots of ye olde, real, Authentic Bread, as described so vividly by Don Sadowsky.

Karin

rff000's picture
rff000

I wonder if you're near my location. Maybe it's a local infestation this year. I'd offer you my services, and I do a great job on 2-3 lbs. at a time, but my little countertop operation couldn't cope with your volume. Maybe it would be worth it for you to get a grinder that could handle your volume of whole grain. I feel much more comfortable with the absence of creepy crawlers and moths in the flour, although a poster guessed that they may still be somewhere in the whole grains. I bet your customers would feel the same way and I'd imagine you have to throw your infested flour away by law, since you're commercial.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Of course I don't use those possibly infested grains/flours for my micro-bakery. I soaked them, albeit with bleeding heart, for hours to drown every living soul in them and then used them as mulch for my vegetable beds.

The small amounts of ancient grains in the freezer are just for my personal use and I grind them in my Wondermill. But thanks for your offer (I live in Maine).

Karin

rff000's picture
rff000

I never imagined you'd use that flour in a bakery, but I hope you can deduct the loss as a business expense. My offer was not very serious either, since I knew your quantity was much more than I could handle. It's interesting that you're in Maine. I'm in Virginia and I thought that the hot, humid summers may have been responsible for the bugs. But, if Maine has the same issue, it doesn't seem weather related.

Actually, I once had some expensive Basmati rice with little black insects in it and I just floated all the bugs off with water and cooked the rice. That was easy with separate grains, but I couldn't do it with flour.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

everyone will want bugs in their grain for the added protein!   Only Organic naturally!

I wonder if putting the dry flour in the microwave oven pops the juicy ones...turn 'em into crunchy morsels.