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How to store holiday nuts

December 20, 2008|By ROBERT KESSLER

We have all gone for a can of peanuts only to find that when we open it, the peanuts are rancid.

This can be a problem particularly around the holidays. We get nuts as gifts or we buy them for entertaining and, if we don't eat them right away, they might get placed in a cupboard and forgotten.

This doesn't have to happen. Nuts go bad because they contain fats and oils, which deteriorate will get an off flavor or rancid taste. Plus they will lose water.

If you have leftover holiday nuts, put them in a tightly sealed container and put them in the freezer until you need them. If you don't have the freezer space, then put those in the refrigerator until you need them. This will help prevent that rancid taste.

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You should be sure to use them up before next Christmas so you can free up space for next year's extra nuts.

Tree seedling sale

The Franklin County Conservation District has announced its annual tree seedling sale for 2009. The district office is offering bundles of 25 seedlings that are grown by a state-certified nursery. If you can't use 25, split a bundle with someone else.

Seedlings will be available in the middle of next April and are to be picked up at the Conservation District office at 185 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg, Pa. We have order forms in our office or you can stop at the Conservation District office, which is next door to our office. Order by Friday, March 6. The order form can also be found on the Conservation District Web site www.franklinccd.org; you need legal-size paper to print it.

Species offered this year include Douglas fir, concolor fir, Fraser fir, Colorado blue spruce, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, Eastern white pine, Austrian pine, red oak, white oak, red maple and white flowering dogwood.

Pantry pets

One pest we often see in our office is the pantry pest. This is a broad name for the couple of insects that get into cereal products in your home.

The most likely problem you will have is a grayish moth flying around your kitchen or elsewhere in your house. This is the adult of the Indian meal caterpillar. It is the most common insect pantry pest in this part of the country. It has a preference for foods such as chocolate, dried fruits, bird seed and dry dog food. It will also have a larvae stage of growth, which can do the most damage to your foods.

Some other pests might be the saw tooth grain beetle, the cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle. These all have a preference to dried foods you keep in your pantry or closet.

The control of these is basically the same: sanitation and sealed containers. These pantry pests come into your home on a food package that was infested either in a warehouse or in the store. Once you bring it home, the pest begins to multiply and might move from one package to another.

If you have noticed the small moth or found a beetle larvae in your food product, you need to stay calm and follow a few steps. First don't throw everything out that is in your cupboard. It is not in everything and it could be in a dried flower arrangement and not even in your foods.

Purchase some large storage bags and check everything in the cupboard. Pour out cereals into a large pan or bowl and when you are satisfied it is okay, put it back into the box and put the box in the plastic bag and seal it. Keep checking things until you find the source or know that it's not in your cupboard.

It might be bird seed or dog food that is supporting the pantry pest, so check those. Often people will forget they put an opened bag of bird seed away last spring and now it is infested. If you find it is a dog food or bird seed you can put the container in the freezer for at least two days and that will kill the pests that were in there and then store it outside and use it up.

If you find it was in your cupboards, clean the shelves and use a good vacuum cleaner to get any food out of the cracks and seams. Do not spray with insect spray. It won't help and you don't want to contaminate your foods.

Finally, if you think you checked everything and you still have pests, don't overlook dried flower arrangements with shafts of grain in them, fish foods, spices of all kinds, even red pepper, nuts, crackers, dried cat food, leftover seeds and candies. Be sure to check all areas of the house, not just the kitchen.

Bob Kessler specializes in consumer horticulture and energy for Penn State University. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at rxk4@psu.edu.

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