Tips for Storing Dried Beans Long Term To Avoid Waste

In this article: Stocking up on bargain dried beans is a money-saver, but you don’t want to lose your savings to waste. Use these guidelines and tips for storing dried beans long term.

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You stocked up on dried beans at a great price, but maybe you don’t know how to store dried beans long-term.

The trick is to choose a storage method that will expose the beans to as little heat, moisture and light as possible. Dry beans can last for years when stored properly. You want to choose a storage method that will ensure the quality, nutritional value and taste of the beans are preserved.

Here are tips for storing dried beans long term to avoid food waste.

How Long Can You Safely Store Dried Beans?

If you’re planning on stocking up on dried beans, you need to know, “How long do dried beans last?”

According to Michigan State University, dried beans stored in regular food-grade bags should last about a year or until the expiration date. However, if you won’t be using the beans during the first month, it’s best to store them in a type of airtight container.

But do dried beans go bad? Beyond the expiration date, you can safely eat the beans as long as no bugs get to them and they remain dry and mold-free during storage, but they may lose their oils in their original packaging and become too dry to rehydrate and eat.

Dried beans stored in sealed buckets, Mason jars, Mylar bags or other reduced-oxygen packaging can last for 10+ years.

How long will vacuum-sealed dried beans last? The cooking experts at MasterClass state that “vacuum-sealed dried beans can last five years or longer.”

Dried beans kept in an air-tight container in a freezer will never go bad. Freezing beans is also a good way to kill any bugs and their eggs that may have gotten into the beans.

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At What Temperature Should You Store Dry Beans?

Light, heat, oxygen and humidity can ruin your dried beans. Store your dry beans in a dark, dry space at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower if possible. This will help ensure the preservation of the beans’ oils and nutritional value, prolonging their shelf life.

The storage area should be dry, as moisture can encourage mold growth and spoilage. A relative humidity below 15% is ideal.

Direct sunlight or excessive artificial light can degrade the quality of dried beans. For long-term dried bean storage, containers that block light are recommended.

How Do You Know If Dried Beans Are Too Old?

Properly stored beans shouldn’t go bad. However, over time, they may take longer to soften when cooked. If you’re storing dried beans for very long periods (10 years or more), they should still be safe to eat, but their nutritional content may degrade somewhat, and they might become tougher, requiring longer cooking times. Adding 1/4 tsp. baking soda per pound of beans to the cooking water can help soften them.

Dried Bean Storage Container Tips

Any container you use to store dried beans should be airtight. Mason jars, food-grade buckets with lids and vacuum-sealed bags are good choices.

Another great option is Mylar bags. These are particularly effective because they block light and can be sealed very tightly. If using Mylar bags, consider adding oxygen absorbers to remove any remaining oxygen, which can prolong the beans’ shelf life. Oxygen absorbers can help prevent the oxidation of the beans, which can cause them to go bad. Make sure you use the right size for the volume of beans you’re storing.

Even though properly stored dried beans can last for years, label and date your stored beans so you know which to use first from your inventory.

Also, check your beans occasionally for any signs of moisture, mold, or pest activity.

Best Ways To Store Dried Beans: Tips From Our Readers

Our frugal readers always offer up the best frugal food storage tips, so we also asked them for their advice on how to store dried beans long term.

Store Dried Beans in Mason Jars or Other Glass Jars

I have been storing both dried beans and whole grains (whole-wheat flour, barley, rice, etc.) for many years in large glass Mason jars that we keep on shelving in our basement. It works very well. I’ve never had an infestation of any kind.

You can also ask for jars at delis and deli counters in supermarkets because these are what a lot of their prepared salads come in. Once you have a batch, you can just keep refilling them.

Make sure to put a label on the jars. You would be surprised how often you forget what something is six months later!

Keep Bugs Out and Remove Oxygen When Storing Dried Beans

Yes, you can store beans for a long time, but you have to store them correctly to keep the bugs out and get the oxygen out.

First, you need buckets. I get mine at ULine for a good price but shop around. Make sure they are food-grade. They come in lots of sizes. Buy a bucket buster, as well, so you can open the bucket when you want to get to the beans.

Next, you need to get the oxygen out of the buckets. You can use oxygenator tabs, which are little packets you put in the bucket to get the oxygen out.

Personally, I like to use dry ice. Just buy a block of dry ice. Break it up with a hammer into little pieces. Fill the bucket almost to the top with your beans (or flour, grain, oats, rice, etc.). Put about 1/4 cup of little pieces of dry ice right on top of the food. Put the lid on and press it down, but don’t seal it completely.

After a while, the bucket will bulge a bit. Burp your buckets (lift up a little to let the air escape). Do this several times until the buckets no longer bulge. Then you can pound the top on the bucket completely and store in a dry, cool place (like a closet).

The reason you break the dry ice up into little pieces is that it would take a long time for the big piece to dissolve. You can’t go to bed and just leave the buckets with dry ice in them until morning. They could explode! So make them pebble size and use more of them, and the process won’t take as long.
Jane in Texas

Dried Beans Can Last Indefinitely If Stored Properly

I learned this trick from an old “mountain man” boyfriend. Get sealable glass containers. Fill the container with the beans, rice or other dried goods drop a bit of dry ice into the container and let it melt. The carbon dioxide will replace the oxygen in the bottle. Seal tightly, and the goods will last indefinitely.

Cook Older Beans Longer and Use Oldest Beans First

Yes, dried beans will keep for a very long time, as long as they are kept dry. You also will want to keep them from extreme heat to minimize food value loss.

There are a couple of key things to keep in mind for best results. First, store them in tightly closed containers. I like large glass jars (buy a gallon of pickles and save the jars!), but other materials may be used. You want a tight closure not only for dryness but also to keep bugs out.

Speaking of bugs, if there is any chance there may be some weevils in the beans, you may want to put all of the beans in the freezer for a week or two. You could do this on a rotating basis if you don’t have space for all at once.

Then, label your containers with the date you purchased and always try to use the oldest beans first. Older beans are still fine to use, but seeing an older date means that you will know you will need to allow them to cook longer.
Helen in Rochester, MN

Vacuum Seal Dried Beans for Longest Storage

Beans and dried peas can last for multiple years if properly stored. The longer they are stored, the longer you will need to soak them to rehydrate them when you cook. I would recommend not leaving them in plastic packaging because this tends to sweat moisture onto the beans if the weather gets humid and can also stick to them.

When I buy bulk beans, peas or rice, I take them out of the package and put them in quart-sized mason jars that I seal. If you really want them to last a long time, there is a vacuum sealer lid you can use. Several of my friends have done this, and their beans lasted over five years.

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Consider Cooking and Freezing

I’m not sure how long they will last in storage, but I know that you can cook your beans and then freeze them. Cook them according to package directions, just until they are done, and then package them in quart-sized freezer bags, about two cups per package. I usually flatten them as much as possible, and then I stack and freeze them on a baking sheet.

When they are frozen, I have a stock of beans I can use just like canned, but for a lot less money. I have done this with great northern, pinto and black beans, but have not tried peas yet. The packages don’t take up much room in the freezer, and it’s great to have on hand for quick meals.

Freeze Dried Beans To Kill Unseen Critters

I’m lucky that my husband and I could eat beans every day; there are certainly many ways to prepare and cook them. When I see a good deal on any variety of dried beans or peas, I stock up.

I measure out about two cups (or whatever amount you like), pour them into a zipper-top freezer bag, and store them in my chest freezer. Any unseen critters won’t survive being frozen. When I’m ready to use any, I take a bag out of the freezer, rinse the beans, and start with the preliminary soak. I’ve been saving with beans like this for years!

Reviewed April 2024

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