Yes, it’s true. And we wouldn’t have discovered this simple technique had we not felt obliged to store more rice than usual when the pandemic modified our food shopping habits.
We rarely bought more than two kilos of rice at a time. It can be just one rice variety (jasmine, usually) or a kilo of jasmine and a kilo of Japanese rice. Occasionally, we’d have a kilo of sticky rice and basmati rice in the pantry too.
Then, the pandemic happened. During the first few months, it wasn’t easy sourcing good quality rice. Hoarders were having a ball and reselling at unconscionable prices. So whenever available, we’d buy more rice than usual. And we started to find weevils in the rice.
Whoever first read about dropping bay leaves in the rice bin, I can’t recall anymore. But we started doing it and we haven’t seen weevils since. What do bay leaves have that scares insects away?
Eucalyptol. Bay leaves contain eucalyptol which has a camphor-like cool and spicy aroma. Insects don’t like it so that keep away. Surprisingly, the aroma is not transferred to the rice grains. And that makes bay leaves the ideal insect repellent. Cheap, natural and effective.
Later, I would learn that what bay leaves can do for rice, it can do for just about any dry ingredient in the pantry including flour, starch, beans, seeds… Just drop a leaf or two into the container and you don’t need to worry about weevils.
Is weevil the only insect that bay leaves scare off? I’ve read that you can scatter bay leaves in pantry drawers, on pantry shelves and, well, just about anywhere in the house really to keep away flies, moths, mosquitoes and even roaches. Haven’t tried this last technique yet but when I do, I’ll make sure to share the results.