Yes, I said weevils. Gross, you think? Well it’s pretty much a part of reality for anyone living on board for long periods of time. Because you’re traveling to faraway places with unpredictable groceries available, you generally tend to stock up in places known for good provisioning. The Caribbean is generally pretty good, minus some of the smaller out-islands like the San Blas or the Tobago Keys, but once you start heading west, supplies get way spottier.
The goal is to supply yourself with enough of your favorites and your staples in bulk, so that in 3 months, when you’re out of bread and too far away from any bakeries to get any, you can make it yourself, with the yeast and wheat flour you bought in the Caribbean 8,000 miles back…or when you get that crazy craving for a Ritz cracker and all you can find at the store are some slightly stale and crumbled cookies labeled $10.00 a box, you can dig down in the hulls and find that precious box of treats with the taste of home.
UNLESS you have weevils, that is. These little black bugs love flour, pasta, oats…basically anything containing grain, and they tunnel around inside the boxes, eating your carefully provisioned food, quickly rendering it into sawdust. They come inside something you buy, and the offending box will allow them to proliferate until they infest every grain-based product you own. When this happens, you have 3 choices:
- try to pick ’em out
- cook them into the food anyway
- toss it out
We did a combination of the three. I was making spaghetti and meatballs this week and when I opened the spaghetti, it had that telltale dusty coating that could mean only one thing. We didn’t have any other spaghetti, so I poured it out into the sink and picked through the box, tossing the strands that were too chewed up to eat, and picking the weevils out of the rest. Then I promptly boiled it. No one seemed to find any small black spots on their plate after the fact, so I’m pretty sure all our protein that night was derived from the meatballs. The next day we went through all the stores in the aft stateroom and ended up tossing out 8 bags of wheat flour, 12 boxes of pasta and some crackers.
Lucky for most, however, there are some remedies for the weevil problem. A lot of cruisers carry vacuum packers on board and vacuum bag their sugar, salt and flour, so the weevils can’t get in or out, and don’t have any air to breathe. Karen did this to most of our supplies before we eft, but things got a bit hurried on the way out of Panama, and the last batch didn’t get finished. We do have surviving white flour, salt and sugar in bags. The other remedy, and this one is good for pasta since it won’t crush it, is putting the product in sealed ziplock bags with bay leaves in it. Something about the bay leaves kills the weevils. I learned this one from our friend Glenys on Fancy Free, and we have since employed it with the remaining pasta on the boat.