The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Wheat Webs?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Whole Wheat Webs?

Something I have noticed recently is that even on a fresh new bag of whole wheat flour, if I carefully scoop out a quantity I see small hanging bits as if they are being held by tiny threads. I could be a little sensitive to infestation since I recently found a few moths in an old bag of flour and went on a cleaning binge.

Is this normal and I never noticed before? This sounds like a newbie question but I just don't have a way to know. Thanks.

Eric 

 

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Sorry Eric but I think you have a moth problem. It may be that you need some moth traps to get rid of the critters for sure. The threads are a sure sign. That and flying moths. I haven't seen any problems for a long time but I'm extra careful and put most flours in the fridge these days except for whole grains that I have packed in buckets with gamma seals. We never know what might come home with us from the market. Good luck.                                                         weavershouse

ehanner's picture
ehanner

weavershouse,
I hope it's reversible quickly. I tossed out a rather large amount of flour in an attempt to be sure. I also put out a large handful of bay leaves while I wait for the traps I ordered on line. I think I caught it early but who knows really.

The web strings almost look like the flour is breaking down gooy in a tiny way. This is observered in a new fresh bag of Hodgson Mills WW .

Eric 

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Eric, moths are a horrible problem.   I had to clear out nearly a full pantry of dry goods, (at least three bins full - the waste made me cry) recently, moths had got into everything.  I found webs in nuts, dried fruit, flour, rice, beans, seeds, everything. And some of these were in Tupperware type containers.  And they seemed to have galloped along, although to be fair some were things I didn't use very often, so they could have been incubating in there for some time.

 I have moved all the new replacements into clip and seal containers (the ones with the rubber hermetic seals) in the hope they won't get back in, and as you say scattered bay leaves everywhere.

 

Lynne

(with her fingers crossed)

 

Mini - how is your rope doing?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

if you can.  And if it is a large amount. divide it into smaller bags so the bugs aren't insulated by the flour.  Then keep it there as you use it up.   You may need to sift the flour before using.

Mini O

josordoni's picture
josordoni

I have one of those Food Saver vacuum packing machine things - I wonder if it would be good for packing things I don't use often in smaller quantities to stop moth and other creatures from getting in? 

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

The moths/larvae will eat through plastic bags as well as cartons..unless you mean you would seal in smaller bags and then store in the freezer. 

 

p s Eric, this might be another reason to get a mill and grind your own. The "fresh bag" of whole wheat you bought couldn't be that fresh. It takes some time to get infested so who knows how long it was sitting on a shelf. Of course, you have to protect the whole grains from infestation too. Hope this clears up quickly for you, we don't want to wait too long for your next baking day :o)                 weavershouse

josordoni's picture
josordoni

Drat, you're right of course.

 Storage in small quantities in the freezer would be a good idea except there is no room in the freezer it is full of bread....

 

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I stopped at the hardware store tonight and picked up a pair of Pantry Pest Traps. I sat down at the counter and opened the package and within a minute there were 5 or 6 flying around me. Wow there must be more than I knew about. I'm surprised that they would be so attracted by the scent. So I'm optimistic this will work. Creepy to know they are hatching in the kitchen.

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

What makes you think they are getting "in" to your flour?

   It has been my opinion that many times the larva are already in the flour, but we just use it faster than they can gestate.  I keep all of my 5 lb bags in the fridge, the 50# stays on the kitchen floor in a tub.  I don't have too many problems with the moths in my baking kitchen, however upstairs in the other kitchen they can be troublesome.

Mike

 

_______________________________________________________

Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I presumed that there were some in a single bag and when they hatched they went looking for food. I can tell you this, two days ago I didn't know I had a problem and today it's a mess even after I cleaned up the affected area. They are hiding all over.

Eric 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Oddly enough, bay leaves do work, though they won't kill eggs that are already there.  My sister put bay leaves all over the kitchen a couple of years ago and we haven't had any moths to speak of at all, even in the flour tins.  Of course, if you leave an open container of pasta or other grains around, sans bay leaves, the little beasts will gravitate to it faster than you can blink. 

plevee's picture
plevee

Hi, I had a horrible problem with moths a couple of months ago. I found the source & threw it out but the problem exploded & in a couple of days there were moths hiding in every nook & cranny in the pantry. Traps are OK to monitor the infestation but they won't get rid of the moths.  The only thing that worked for me was to inspect every single item in the pantry &, if it looked clean, to double bag it & put it in the freezer for at least 3 days - this kills the larvae, but I think you have to freeze for longer to kill the eggs. This & a thorough cleaning - they were hiding between paper carrier bags I recycled etc etc - & spraying with permethrins, after everything was safely bagged, every night to kill the moths that were flying around  finally worked.Or it seems to have - I'm still checking everything regularly for a resurgence! Perhaps bay leaves will prevent it.

Good luck,Patsy

 

rubato456's picture
rubato456

small amounts when they come from the 'factory' and yes, the longer the flour sits and the higher the temperature the greater the chances of a hatching of moths. this seems to happen to me almost every year when the temperatures first get warm....i end up throwing out lots of stuff. i think best rule of thumb is to cleal out the pantry regularly, toss anything you haven't used in 3-6 months time, without exception. (well canned goods are ok :-) i try to keep some flours in the freezer. but then that's one more thing i have to take out, the night before the night before i'm thinking of baking.......so i'm not really happy with that solution. 

deborah

setsuuri's picture
setsuuri

I had a real problem getting rid of the moths this summer - but the absolute worst point was when I had a nicely shaped loaf in my hand, all ready to plop into my banneton, only to noticed a horrible wriggly larva poking out from the floured cracks in the basket - yeuch!

I hate those moths!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have never liked the concept of the linen lined bannetons for just that reason. I have a couple and every now and then I put them in a hot oven to kill anything that might be hiding. I prefer the coiled wicker or even better plastic ones from SFBI. I clean them all with a stiff brush regardless regularly and the plastic gets soaked in soapy warm water and scrubbed.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that small creatures are lurking in the flour. The sourdough is loaded with several variety's we like. 

Eric 

suave's picture
suave

That's why I generally avoid buying in bulk, as tempting as it sounds.  I learned my lesson with weevils.

Mike

josordoni's picture
josordoni

I really really have to try not to think too hard about what might be in the flours..

 

I am getting a real attack of the heeby jeebies at the moment about eating moth eggs....

 

euch.

 

Lynne

 

holds99's picture
holds99

If, when you pick up a pinch of flour and hold it up tiny, cob web like strings dangle down it most likely moth infestation.  Been there, done that.  Threw out everything in the pantry, flour, cerial, etc.  and cleaned and scrubbed everything. 

FWIW.  I have an older fridge in the garage and keep all white flour, which I use at a pretty good clip, in the fridge.  Seeds, rye flour and whole wheat flour I keep in the freezer in Zip Lock bags until they're used.  Haven't had any problems since I've been using the fridge and freezer. 

It may just be a Florida problem but I'm wary of health food stores that don't move the products as fast as the supermarkets. 

Howard

ehanner's picture
ehanner

For what it's worth I cleaned the one cupboard and placed 2 traps in the shelf area and spread bay leaves from Penzies all around the cabinets and 24 hours later---NO MOTHS. I'm cautiously optimistic they are gone. There were a few here ad there late last night but non all day. I'm relieved to say the least. BTW, there were none in the traps.

Eric

Eli's picture
Eli

I place bay leaves in my flour bins in used spice bottles with the sprinkle tops. I discard the outer lid and just place the leaves in, replace the sprinkle top and place in bins. I hang bay leaves in a cheese cloth in the panty and in new pair of women's stockings in the storage pantry.

 

plevee's picture
plevee

I bought 6 traps & had them at strategic points for 5 nights with 10-15 insects in the air - result, one moth in one trap & nowhere near the lure. I think he just blundred in, or maybe all my moths were female. Of interest, The only times I would see moths flying was after dark between about 8-10pm. That's when I committed genocide!

 I hope your moths ARE gone but I'd watch for a while & freeze everything you can as well as using the bay leaves .

Patsy

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I was at first willing to accept the little tiny web like structures as something that happens when Whole Wheat sits in a bag. After my experience with the moth outbreak, I'm more creeped out and have been looking more closely.

I wrote to Hodgson Mills and told them what I was seeing asking for an opinion. The got right back to me and said they thought I had an infest. Apparently they mention on the package that they suggest storing in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent such thing.

They did offer a discount coupon if I would send the back panel in so they could see it wasn't an out dated package. That's nice but I tossed the package long ago. I wasn't really looking for cash for my trouble anyway, just answers.

Today I will replace the product and check it out first. I suppose I'll have to begrudgingly start freezing my whole grain stock. 

Eric 

Marni's picture
Marni

The creepy crawly critters  usually come in with your new packages.  They are often in egg or larve form and are killed by freezing.  I'm sorry I don't remember the source where I learned this (Heloise? Good Housekeeping?), but the gist of the idea is that because home freezers don't get as cold as commercial freezers, the product must stay in the freezer for about two weeks (I keep them there much longer) before they are moved to the pantry.  It takes that long to kill them.

Also, the moths and other pests can be in any grain or bean.  Pasta, rice and cornmeal can harbor them too. I bring everything home and put it directly into my garage freezer and take it out just to use it. 

The really disgusting part of this that I try not to think about too much, is that the creatures are still there, they're just dead now.  Ewwww!!!

Marni

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Marni
There are living things all around us. I read that there are more living organisms in your gut than there are humans on Earth. Each one a tiny life that has dna and a cycle of life. Not to mention all the critters on your eyelids at the microscopic size level.

So, don't get to freaked out by all the life forms around us. Most of them belong where they are and are helping us survive,

Eric 

Marni's picture
Marni

As long as they stay where they belong, I'm fine with that.  But if these were meant to be in our flour and consumed, we shouldn't be trying so hard to get rid of them.  I don't freak over dust mites and I think probiotics are terrific, but I'll still try to avoid the need to scrub out my entire pantry.

But you're right, we need to keep some perspective.

Marni