“Bay Leaf Backs Down,” Ensign, Feb. 1976, 61
Question: Do bay leaves placed in a storage container with wheat, oatmeal, or other foods prevent insect infestation?
Bay leaves and spices in general cannot prevent insect infestation in foods. We had a weevil-infested sample of wheat germ to which we added bay leaves in a dry baby food bottle. After one month the weevil were still multiplying. Some people suggest that bay leaves will keep the insects out of clean food, but if they do this through some sort of repelling odor, the odor will grow weaker with prolonged storage. It is best to properly package your food so as to exclude insects and their larvae. Glass bottles, metal containers, and rigid plastic containers are effective in doing this. Clean wheat that has less than 12 percent moisture will not support insect life. If insects are present they may be destroyed by placing the food in the deep freeze for four to five days or by heating in a two-inch layer in the oven at 150° 12 for two hours. Thorough fumigation with carbon dioxide in a container that can be sealed to the air is also effective. (Ensign, July 1974.) Periodic checks of stored wheat are a wise precaution to ensure that insects have not infested the grain. John Hal Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University