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Old 07-12-2017, 12:13 PM   #1
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Question Kitchen Canisters

I have been looking for new kitchen canisters for the longest time. I'm picky about everything that goes in my kitchen! I previously had some cheap stainless steel canisters that were a pain to keep clean (oh the fingerprints!), and when the seals broke, I tossed them. I've just been keeping my flour, sugar, etc. in random plastic containers in the pantry since then, but I want a countertop set again, and this time I wanted something decorative. This is not an easy thing to find in stores these days! Tons of options online, but I'm not big on buying things I can't touch first. But that seems to be the only option. Still, I'm not loving what I'm seeing. So, the nostalgic person in me started searching Etsy and Ebay, and I found a set that matches one my grandmother used to have that I always loved. I am really tempted to buy it, however, they do not have seals on them. They are just ceramic. I remember my mother's were this way back in the 80s, too. I started doing some research, and I've read that flour should be stored in airtight containers because otherwise it can spoil. I never knew that! I mean, the paper bags it comes in aren't airtight. And I don't remember my mother or grandmother having this issue when I was growing up. Do any of you use non-airtight canisters for your flours and sugars? Thoughts/opinions on the necessity of airtight canisters? I don't want a set that is just decoration; they have to be functional.

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Old 07-12-2017, 12:15 PM   #2
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I don't have counter-top canisters. No room. My flours are in plastic bags in the pantry. Sugar is in a plastic half- gallon bottle in a cabinet above the stove. Salt is in a cheese shaker by the stove.
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Old 07-12-2017, 12:47 PM   #3
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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

I think flour and sugar should be in airtight containers to keep bugs out. I've never heard that it won't spoil in an airtight container. Where did you read that?

Refined white flour (all-purpose, bread, pastry) takes a long time to go rancid. Whole-grain flours go rancid more quickly because the bran has oils in it. I keep masa harina in the original bag inside a plastic bag in the freezer.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:05 PM   #4
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Hi and welcome to Discuss Cooking

I think flour and sugar should be in airtight containers to keep bugs out. I've never heard that it won't spoil in an airtight container. Where did you read that?
Sorry, didn't mean to imply that it would never go bad in an airtight container, just that it would take much longer than in a non-airtight one. I don't remember the exact articles I read, there were several, but the implication was that flour in a non-sealed container had a very short shelf-life. I use my flour often, but even I would be hard-pressed to go through a 5 lb. bag of flour in the amount of time they stipulated for non-airtight storage, unless I was doing an unusual amount of baking. I only cook for 2.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:34 PM   #5
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Now that I think about it some more, keeping moisture out of the flour is important - that can make it go bad more quickly. So airtight would be best for keeping bugs and moisture out, especially if you live in a humid environment.

Also, always freeze flour for a day or two after buying it, to kill any critter eggs that might be in it.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:05 PM   #6
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Welcome to DC, CubsGal....

Can't help with canister information as I gave them up when we downsized to tiny kitchen mode...

I keep flower, sugar, different salts, etc., in quart and pint mason jars in the cabinet above my small work space.. The bulk refill sacks wrapped tightly and stored in another less used cabinet..

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Old 07-12-2017, 03:13 PM   #7
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\
Also, always freeze flour for a day or two after buying it, to kill any critter eggs that might be in it.
I also read that the bugs don't come in with the flour; they almost always come in after you open the bag.

That being said, my original point was that I don't recall ever having an issue with flour spoiling when I was a kid, and we didn't use air-tight containers. Bugs were not an issue either, even with the sugar. And my mother did not go through that much flour, either. So how necessary is it, really? I'm wondering if others out there use non-sealing canisters without issue.

The only time I've ever had an issue with bugs in my dried goods was when I tried buying them in bulk. Every. Single. Time. And not just with one specific item. No more bulk for me! They obviously are not storing them in appropriate containers at the store.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:17 PM   #8
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I also read that the bugs don't come in with the flour; they almost always come in after you open the bag. . .
My understanding is the opposite. Bug eggs are small enough that they can't be sifted out of the flour and end up in the bag with the flour. This is why you hear/read the recommendation to freeze the flour you buy before using it. Freezing kills the eggs.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:46 PM   #9
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Kitchen Canisters

I have a set of old copper canisters. Apparently they seal quite well, as evidenced by DH wrestling the top off the flour. I store most of my flour in the fridge. You might find a set at Goodwill.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:54 PM   #10
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I also read that the bugs don't come in with the flour; they almost always come in after you open the bag.
Not everything you read is equally reliable It would be helpful if you could provide your sources for these things, so we can evaluate them. Like Andy, I have read the opposite more than once.

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That being said, my original point was that I don't recall ever having an issue with flour spoiling when I was a kid, and we didn't use air-tight containers. Bugs were not an issue either, even with the sugar. And my mother did not go through that much flour, either. So how necessary is it, really? I'm wondering if others out there use non-sealing canisters without issue.
I use airtight containers for the reasons I mentioned. I guess we'll have to wait and see if someone else responds.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:15 PM   #11
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i use airtight for the flour and sugar.
Just makes sense to me, whether its to keep the bugs out ( or in), reduce moisture and increase shelf life. That being said, I never really read the science behind it, just gut instinct.
For the sugar, when not in airtight, I find it to clump up a bit from the moisture.

I keep the containers in the cupboard for the bulk, but I do have smaller " go to" jars of sugar, salt and flour within arms reach of the stove for when Im cooking. Of these smaller jars, the salt and sugar are not airtight, the flour is.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:37 PM   #12
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I do not have canisters, no room. I keep my flour in the freezer (air tight)and sugar, rice etc in air tight containers in a cabinet. Gotgarlic is correct, you should freeze flour as soon as you bring it home to kill any eggs/ bugs. Not only will airtight keep bugs out but it can also keep your products from absorbing odors. Mason Jars are ok to seal up things. I bought some half gallon jars at rural king but then you also need to keep them out of direct sunlight!
I'm sure my parents or grandparents or someone along the way didn't have air tight containers but we know better now! That's what information and learning does :)
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:47 PM   #13
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My experience and understanding is that freezing for a couple days will kill bug eggs. Learned that when I was buying field corn to grind. Any kind of flour or sugar should be stored in airtight containers to keep out the moisture if for no other reason. To the best of my knowledge, sugar won't spoil but it will absorb moisture and get hard as a rock, especially brown sugar.

I keep all whole ground grains in the freezer or at least the refrigerator to prevent or slow spoilage. AP Flour(all purpose flour) and most white flours have the germ removed so there's nothing to spoil. I don't use much of it and keep it in an airtight plastic container at room temperature for a long time, years even. It might still get bugs though from contamination, I guess. If and when that happens I just throw it out and get another bag. There is such thing as whole grain white flour, ground from white wheat berries, that is whole wheat and subject to spoilage despite its almost white color.

Same applies to whole ground (stone ground) corn, maybe even more so. Been told that the rule of thumb used to be, "Grind your wheat monthly, corn weekly."

I like storing the fridge and freezer bound stuff in freezer bags so as it gets used up it takes up less space.

"But the bag it comes in isn't air tight." --- That's why you should only buy perishable stuff from a vendor you trust that sells lots of it.

As far as the decorative value of canisters, don't know or care anything about that.

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Old 07-12-2017, 04:54 PM   #14
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I'm sure my parents or grandparents or someone along the way didn't have air tight containers but we know better now! That's what information and learning does :)
Oh yes, I definitely get that. I'm all for modern advances. However, not everything that is "new" knowledge is accurate, either. And I don't take everything I read online at face value. If I had an actual professional to ask in person, who could answer my questions, I would. Not having one, I have to resort to questioning that which I've read by asking the masses their experience, then making my decision.

For what it is worth, none of the sources I read were just blogs. I tend to only look at articles on established sites, where experts would be the writers. Still, it is the internet...which is why I'm here. I'm skeptical of everything.

As for the bugs; I've been cooking and baking for most of my life (I'm 37). I've never frozen my flour and never had bugs (except in the aforementioned bulk scenario; that was in more than just flour, though). Everything I read referred to keeping it in the freezer as a way to extend shelf life. I don't recall seeing anything about doing it out of habit to kill bug larvae.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:05 PM   #15
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Oh yes, I definitely get that. I'm all for modern advances. However, not everything that is "new" knowledge is accurate, either. And I don't take everything I read online at face value. If I had an actual professional to ask in person, who could answer my questions, I would. Not having one, I have to resort to questioning that which I've read by asking the masses their experience, then making my decision.

For what it is worth, none of the sources I read were just blogs. I tend to only look at articles on established sites, where experts would be the writers. Still, it is the internet...which is why I'm here. I'm skeptical of everything.

As for the bugs; I've been cooking and baking for most of my life (I'm 37). I've never frozen my flour and never had bugs (except in the aforementioned bulk scenario; that was in more than just flour, though). Everything I read referred to keeping it in the freezer as a way to extend shelf life. I don't recall seeing anything about doing it out of habit to kill bug larvae.
I didn't know that you should freeze flour as soon as you got home but I know these folks here are pretty reliable! I looked it up and I'm not saying that wikihow is the most scholarly place in the world... anyway see attached lol. The reason I keep my flour in the freezer is because I have a new fridge downstairs and I have room! I'm sure just airtight containers are fine. I like those old Antique green/ or yellow looking containers, they remind me of home.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:13 PM   #16
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We wanted airtight canisters before we moved to the Bahamas. We bought most everything for the kitchen at BB&B, and we bought several airtight acrylic canisters there. We are still using them here back in the states, but I looked for awhile and can't find the ones we have anyplace. We do have one of the Anchor-Hocking Montana style glass ones (2˝ gallon size) for AP flour, and those area easy to find online. They do seal, although not like the BB&B ones that have a pinch seal in the lid that creates a seal tight enough to lift the canister, yet with a light pinch can be opened one handed for convenience (I always seem to have one hand oily or doughy or some other reason that I need to do it with one hand).

We have 4 of the acrylic ones, 2 that will just hold a 5 pound bag of flour or sugar, and 2 that are about half that size.
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Old 07-13-2017, 01:52 AM   #17
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...I don't recall ever having an issue with flour spoiling when I was a kid, and we didn't use air-tight containers. Bugs were not an issue either, even with the sugar. And my mother did not go through that much flour, either. So how necessary is it, really? I'm wondering if others out there use non-sealing canisters without issue...
I've never frozen flour to kill bugs, either, and have never had problems with extra protein in the flour.

It's possible that your Mom bought only bleached, All-Purpose flour when you were a kid. Heck, that's the kind of flour I bought for years and years...and my kids are a year younger than you. That type of flour has no natural oils in it, which is the first thing that goes rancid when flour gets old. My Mom used to buy AP flour by the 25 pound sack, store it in a huge, old metal can, and never had bad flour either. I know, however, if you keep whole wheat flour in the pantry it will eventually go "off". Rye flour, too.

I am not endorsing this website/blog, but it does have some interesting "use by" information. The one thing I found new and interesting was their advise to store only whole-grain flours in the freezer, but not white. White flour needs to remain dry to have a good shelf life.

Finally, I will begrudgingly say Welcome to DC, but I did see the photo you have on your Profile page. After all, I listened to your team beat mine in the wee hours of November 3rd. My only consolation was that I was listening to my team's play-by-play announcer while watching the waves crash on the shore of Jekyll Island.

Cute doggie, BTW.
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Old 07-13-2017, 01:54 AM   #18
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...To the best of my knowledge, sugar won't spoil but it will absorb moisture and get hard as a rock, especially brown sugar...
Actually, brown sugar gets hard because the moisture evaporates from it. I have this cute little clay bear that I add to a canister of hard brown sugar. You wet it down, let it absorb the moisture, then put it into the canister. The next day your brown sugar is soft as can be. You don't need a cute clay bear, however, as a piece of moist bread will do the same thing.
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:30 AM   #19
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Actually, brown sugar gets hard because the moisture evaporates from it. I have this cute little clay bear that I add to a canister of hard brown sugar. You wet it down, let it absorb the moisture, then put it into the canister. The next day your brown sugar is soft as can be. You don't need a cute clay bear, however, as a piece of moist bread will do the same thing.
Thanks, CG. I know about the bread trick but thought it was absorbing moisture like rice from a wet cell phone. Not the first time I got something bass-ackwards.
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:08 AM   #20
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White sugar must get hard because it absorbs moisture though. Just thinkin.
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