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Protecting Grains

Martha Stewart Living, September 1999

To discourage insects such as weevils from setting up home in your grains and legumes, try this age-old trick: Drop a dried chile pepper or bay leaf into each jar. These colorful plants are nontoxic and have natural insect-repelling properties.


Comments (30)

  • Esther C 4 Oct, 2014

    I have always put my dry items in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. I had read this somewhere and it works. My sister also puts her sugar in the freezer for storage, but I haven't tried that yet.

  • Mother of 5 27 Jun, 2012

    Will the dried chile pepper or bay leaf make the food taste like that?

  • djcarney 7 Jun, 2012

    I found them at restoration hardware.. They show them for bathroom use. They are beautiful...

  • djcarney 1 Jun, 2012

    I want those those containers, I looked on line and can not find them. Any help from the store that carries them would be wonderful...

  • coco1101 29 Mar, 2012

    Hi All,
    Many are looking for the glass storage jars pictured. Take a look at The Container Store's website, I'm sure you will find something similar.

    In Texas we have a lot of "bugs" and I am going to try the Bay Leaves in my pantry on the shelves... it has to be the smell that deters the pests and I'll give it a try.

  • Morningmom 28 Mar, 2012

    If your grains are clean when you bring them home (no weevil or food moth eggs or larvae) then all you need to do is put them in a container with a tight fitting lid so there can be no new infestation. If the grains are already infested the insects will eventually hatch regardless of what type of container you use. Freezing before storing works well to prevent this. The biggest problem is if you store grains in plastic or cellophane bags that larvae chew through and then infest your kitchen.

  • Darlingj 28 Mar, 2012

    I have a large Bay Laurel in my yard so will have no problem putting them in my cupboards. I keep my flour and rice in the refrigerator.

  • ofwaihhbtn 28 Mar, 2012

    Where can I find these beautiful jars?

  • fxfairy 26 Feb, 2011

    Freezing grains when you buy them kills everything! After a couple weeks of freezing I put them in handy bottles

  • tler 25 Feb, 2011

    This is a great idea....but does it work for food moths?

  • BoopaCA 22 Feb, 2011

    For those of you looking for this type of jars, search (Google): "glass jars storage containers with lids" and you'll find several sources.

  • bizylizzy68 21 Feb, 2011

    Where do you get those jars? I've been searching for pretty containers (see thru). Pretty

  • GinnyDesignStudio 20 Feb, 2011

    I have used the bay leaf trick for many years-in my bird food! Stops weevils! I don't know how it works but I buy the cheapest bay leaves in a discount chain and put a couple in my bird seed. Never a bug! I am sure it will work in grains as well, but why not just store them in the fridge?

  • cindy--1026 19 Feb, 2011

    Can't wait to try this. And it even looks great! Every summer I have this problem. Years ago I learned to freeze bird seed for this same reason, but the guy at the bird store said the insect larvae was good for the birds so I stopped doing that. I do know friends in Florida who keep spices and grains frozen or refrigerated all year.

  • msladymia 19 Feb, 2011

    I used it against the asian beetles. Bay leaves worked.

  • RosalieCeurvels 19 Feb, 2011

    True . I use a bay leaves in my cabinets as well . No pesky critters or such.
    Really works.

  • glotococo 19 Feb, 2011

    Absolutely truth.

  • khender711 19 Feb, 2011

    that was my concern (if the pepper or bay leaf would alter the flavor of grains, etc.)

    Yes, PLEASE let us know where you purchased these lovely glass jars!

  • jellylava 19 Feb, 2011

    On a similar note- I place a dried mint leaf or a fennel seed into empty glass jars when storing them with their lids on. It stops the stale odor you might otherwise get. By the way, I have seen similar jars @ Pier 1 Imports but I don't know if this company has stores everywhere.

  • paigeteague 19 Feb, 2011

    Will the bay leaf and chili pepper keep the insects from hatching out of the grains OR will it only deter them? I place all my grains in the freezer for at least 24 hours to kill any bugs before they hatch. Anyone know the answer?

  • tammierae 19 Feb, 2011

    I use bay leaves in cupboards and closets to keep critters away.

  • tammierae 19 Feb, 2011

    love these jars.please post where you got them.thanks for the advice~~~

  • annfisher 19 Feb, 2011

    Yes - WHERE can we get these glass jars? I like them also for being glass - I avoid plastic to stay away from BPA entirely.

  • annfisher 19 Feb, 2011

    Yes - WHERE can we get these jars in this photo?

  • dahlc 19 Feb, 2011

    I like those jars too. Where can I get those?

  • jennyFTB 19 Feb, 2011

    I lived on a caribbean island (PR) and learned that you could keep a bay leaf in every spice jar to keep the weevils out. Nothing grosser than sprinkling some spice or herb into a recipe along with some little creatures! I never heard of putting one in with my grains but it sounds like a great idea as long as it doesn't change the flavor! Thanks for the tip!

  • shortshorts 19 Feb, 2011

    I been laying bay leaf in the cupboards but i will try the jars to thanks

  • sonhero 19 Feb, 2011

    where can you find
    the glass jars like in the picture

  • OrganizingMommy 19 Feb, 2011

    good tip, and it looks so nice too.

  • antoniamaria 19 Feb, 2011

    Remember that bay leaves have a strong smell/taste and wouldn't be appropriate for delicate grains or legumes destined for delicately-flavored dishes.