If I heat it, I can't eat it.
January 31, 2011 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Organizing a pantry. BPA plastics and dry goods. Resources and suggestions for food storage and organization.

I am reorganizing my pantry. I bake a lot and have a lot of dry goods. My initial solution was using clear cambro containers BUT the BPA issue arose (polystyrene is not aesthetic and can be hard to determine how much dry goods are left without opening). Glass would be ideal (aesthetic and BPA free) but lugging down 5-10 lb container worth of flour in a bulky jar is not workable.

I do not have counter space to have dry storage jars so it is shelving all the way.

I would like to avoid plastics but my storage options are looking limited when I am trying to store 4-6 quarts of dry goods.

Should I just bite the bullet and use a BPA free plastic and hope that there is nothing else to worry about or should I just go glass all the way and hope that nothing drops or jostles?

Storage container suggestions? Resources for storage containers being suggested?
posted by jadepearl to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
My understanding is that BPA leeching occurs when either associated with heat or liquid. If you are storing your dry goods in plastic BPA containers it wouldn't seem likely that leeching would occur. I think you would be safe...

Please educate me otherwise though.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 1:08 PM on January 31, 2011


These lovely Oxo dry goods canisters are BPA free.

I'm sure you can order online, either from Oxo directly at that link, or via Amazon. They're also available in bricks-and-mortar stores all over the place - Target, BB&B, and The Container Store all carry them.
posted by Sara C. at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


BPA will not contaminate cold liquids. The problem is with hot liquids/foods, or if the container is scratched or damaged.
Scratching is inevitable if you're continually scrubbing/washing your container, but I wouldn't worry about it for long term dry storage.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2011


I will be watching this with interest!

We use the clear cambros for flour and such and don't worry about the BPAs, since they're not subject to heat (besides, every restaurant in the world uses these to store food). But in any case, the translucent and more opaque poly lines of Cambro are BPA-free.

I hear you on wishing there was a good way to store bulk dry goods; we buy AP and bread flour in 25-lb sacks. I've always dreamt of wood/glass drawers like these but they don't do you much good if you don't have a lot of room.

There appear to be a few options at the Container store; these come in sizes up to 17 quarts and are labeled BPA free.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2011


Metal?
posted by electroboy at 1:25 PM on January 31, 2011


The problem is finding containers that are large enough. The largest POP container is 4 quarts; not very useful if you buy flour in bags bigger than 5 lbs.

I really wish someone made a large, lightweight and handled metal box with a glass window.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:31 PM on January 31, 2011


See this link from Rubbermaid re: which of their products are BPA free:



A related question (is that allowed?): If it's true that only heated contents are contaminated, why are tin cans lined w/BPA-containing materials considered unsafe? Are the contents heated during the canning process?
posted by aimeedee at 1:31 PM on January 31, 2011


Link did not take! Trying again...

posted by aimeedee at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2011


If you're buying in such bulk, why not get a large container of whatever material for your 25 lbs and then just top up something like the POP containers as needed? It's unlikely you would ever be baking a recipe that called for more than 4 quarts of flour.
posted by Sara C. at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2011


Oh, and the only tin cans lined with BPA-containing plastics that are potentially considered unsafe (with "considered" the operative word there) are cans of tomatoes and other high-acid foods. There is fear that the acidity of the food could cause BPA to leech. I'm not sure to what extent it's a fact-based concern to have, though.
posted by Sara C. at 1:40 PM on January 31, 2011


You're hearing lots of advice about how to navigate the plastics issue, but I'm on the "bite the bullet and use glass" side of the fence. We have a tall pantry cabinet and hard quartzite floors, so I keep all my large sealed jars of dry goods on the lowest shelf (and the floor of the pantry). They're heavy, yes, but I don't have to worry about what the next "bad news" in the world of plastics and I can see everything I have.
posted by ersatzkat at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The asker's question was about lightweight, see-through, BPA-free storage for four quart and larger quantities. Presumably the OP has good reasons for wanting one container for the job...not speaking for her, but I find it inefficient to have a bunch of different containers in different locations.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2011


My pantry is organized on the principle of cheapest way possible without plastics...as much as possible. I would buy 25 pounds of wheat flour and keep it in its sturdy bag while placing it inside one of those hideous "homer" 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot. The buckets are not food safe, but the flour doesn't come into contact with the plastic. And I was honestly more worried about those horrible pantry moths. And turns out I have celiac disease anyway so the bucket o' flour has gone away.
Anyway, I would just refill a 2 quart mason jar with flour from the flour bag in a bucket. I now keep absolutely everything in 2 quart mason jars. They are a cheapskate's pantry organizing godsend. I have a FoodSaver with which I am able to vacuum seal stuff for long term inside the jars. They work particularly well when you have 20 different gluten free flours to organize and blend on a whim.
posted by hecho de la basura at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


We use glass jars for just about everything...and they're not terribly heavy, even the larger gallon size jars, and i've had a couple giant ball jars fall onto a tile floor from about 4 feet up, and they didn't break. However, for the couple of items in the kitchen (flour, rice, oats, couple other staples and grains we go through a lot of) we use restaurant-grade storage bins like this one.

I could be completely wrong, but i've ben working under the assumption that plastics without the recycling #7 on them, are BPA free. Most new restaurant bins i've found fall into this category.

Make sure they seal well...Sweet jesus, we used to keep our flour in flour sacks in the pantry...you could have shot a Mothra sequel in our kitchen during the summer time.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2011


A related question (is that allowed?): If it's true that only heated contents are contaminated, why are tin cans lined w/BPA-containing materials considered unsafe? Are the contents heated during the canning process?
posted by aimeedee at 4:31 PM on January 31 [+] [!]


It is my understanding that the canning process usually includes pasteurization as a means of preserving the food. Pasteurization by definition involves heating.
posted by horsemuth at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2011


I'm also in the just use glass camp if endocrine-disrupting chemicals leaching from plastics is what you are worried about.

One of my physiology professors is all about this whole controversy so he started testing the BPA plastics in his lab and he also tested the BPA-Free Plastics and the result is that most plastic is bad. Actually he found the new BPA-Free water bottles he tested leached about half the amount of chemicals as the BPA ones but (startlingly and annoyingly) the BPA-Free baby bottles were just as bad as the ones with BPA.

Obviously this is just one guy's ad hoc tests in his own lab, no publishable results BUT he did want to warn us that just because BPA is the big thing that everyone is talking about doesn't mean that BPA-Free=Safe.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


peachfuzz - The asker's question was about lightweight, see-through, BPA-free storage for four quart and larger quantities.

Did I read this part wrong, then?

OP - Should I just bite the bullet and use a BPA free plastic and hope that there is nothing else to worry about or should I just go glass all the way and hope that nothing drops or jostles?

I understood this as a part of the question.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:40 PM on January 31, 2011


oops, ersatzkat - I didn't mean that as a reply to your comment; sorry for the confusion!
posted by peachfuzz at 7:02 PM on January 31, 2011


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