This usually isn't a problem with USP (United States Procured) cooking ingredients, but controls aren't so stringent in other markets...Billy from Idaho can order paprika for a great price online, and he's quite happy with the first dish of Chicken Paprikash that he's made with his online purchase. A couple of weeks later, he assembles all the ingredients needed to make Tex-Mex crispy Tacos, and starts to cook. He's happily adding all the ingredients when, upon adding a healthy dose of Hungarian paprika, he notices that the ingredient...is MOVING; there are WEEVILS or BEETLES in his spice! Everything is ruined! (actually, insects are a healthy source of protein, but gourmands generally frown upon that sort of thing!)
I have noticed a similar problem with bay leaves, thyme, and other whole-grain spices (some powders included). If it smells good, it's a good bet that there are insects that happily agree, much to your pantry's detriment.
Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin («Comino» para nos cosineros Latinos), Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, and other fragrant and flavorful spices attract various insects that may prey upon your seasonings. Here's something that may be a big help: Place all of such newly-purchased spices in a freezer for four days; that will kill any eggs or larvae that may be present (Try not to think about it!). If you routinely practice good kitchen hygiene and cleanliness—and closely examine all new ingredients before purchase—you should not have a problem thereafter.
Happy insect-free cooking!
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by Amy Schulman | Calum Franklin is a wizard with pies. The self-proclaimed pastry deviant knows how to weave together...