Stocking up on food in Sri Lanka – good idea or bad idea?

12 July 2009

huge can of tomatoes from ItalyGenerally, bad idea.

Ants get into everything they can. Weevils and worms frequently are already inside the flour & grain & lentils & beans & so on bags, so you don’t want to keep a bag of flour for even three months and assume it’ll still be fine – it likely won’t be. Mung beans will have holes mined through them in a month or so. I’ve found tiny bugs inside my unopened cocoa powder bags – cocoa now goes into the freezer. Bit of a pain in the butt, but what are you going to do?

And baking powder! Did you know that there are bugs that’ll eat baking powder? Seriously! I wish I were joking, and I wish it were a fluke, but no, it happened to me twice. In air tight containers. New ones are now stored in the fridge. 🙂

MD lime pickleThen there’s the humidity problem. Icing sugar cakes, lumps, and gets hard as a rock, and the only way to deal with it is to put it in the whir whir and let that go at it for a few minutes, and even then, you’ve still got lumps left over. And anything with a high fat content goes rancid quickly.

Yeah, and our fridge/freezer ain’t all that big, so you can’t store everything in there. You pick and chose your battles and deal with the fallout as it happens.

Welcome to the tropics. 🙂

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6 Responses

  1. #1

    Have you tried canning or jarring or do the bugs get into that food too?

  2. #2

    Rosemerry, the biggest problem is that canning supplies don’t exist here. I used to can all the time back in Canada – everything from pickles to jams to chutneys to fruit to sauces. I put away well over a hundred or a couple of hundred jars every year. For me, canning is old hat, and I would love to continue it. But no jars, sealers, or rings here, and you can’t use just any jars and any lids if you expect a decent seal. 🙁

  3. #3

    ah yes I forgot about the special equipment. Botulism is not a fun thing to catch so I heard.

  4. #4

    Haven’t experienced it myself, either, that I know of… 😉

    Canning, I think, is not done here simply because most fruits and vegetables are available year round, unlike the frozen wastelands of Canada. 😛 There, before shipping food in became the done thing, if you didn’t can or otherwise preserve food, you died in the winter. Here, it’s totally different.

    I think that also explains canned goods not being widely available here like they are in the US/Canada. Sure, you can get bottled jams, chutneys, local types of pickles, ketchup and local sauces, with some import goods thrown in, but that’s about it. Buying pre-cooked processed food is still not very common here, either.

    Most women still cook for their families or have help to do it for them. It’s not like the US and Canada.

  5. #5

    I’ve got two fridges, the freezer of one is dedicated to flour. The other to bread. So ice-cream doesn’t appear to be a priority for us 🙂 Good post, again. Interesting cultural stuff. I assume this is because of the heat and an ‘always on’ climate.

  6. #6

    Heat and humidity don’t help – food rots faster. But heat and humidity also help insect populations grow faster, too.

    In Canada, the only time I ever saw ants was when I was at a park or other wilderness area. Never in my house or close to it. Too cold for ants to survive the winter very well, so there were relatively smaller populations.

    Here, though, there’s no winter die-off and ants are everywhere, all the time. I saw more varieties of ants in my first week in this country than I had in my entire life in Canada.

    In Canada, I don’t think I’d ever seen weevils in my flour. Here, I check every bag for weevils because they’re just that common. And I check lentils, mung beans, and other legumes and grains for weevils, too.

    There are a LOT more insects here than I’d ever seen before.

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About LMAshton

Howdy and welcome to my site! I'm Laurie and I'll be your, er, hostess today. :)

I'm a Canadian expat currently living in Singapore. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. We also lived in New Zealand for half a year.

I cook Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and mallungs. I bake bread using wild yeast (sourdough that isn't sour). I bake on the stove. I experiment with Indian / Malaysian / Indonesian / Thai / whatever cuisines interest me. And I experiment wildly.

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