Tips for Storing Dried Beans Long Term to Avoid Waste
by Reader Contributors
Stocking up on bargain dried beans is a money-saver, but you don’t want to lose your savings to waste. Try these tips for storing dried beans long term.
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I recently was able to stock up big time on several types of dried beans and peas at very good prices, but I think I went a bit overboard. I hate to think I could lose my savings if they were to go bad before we could use them.
I know that dried beans can last a very long time. Do they need to be stored a certain way or can I just leave them in the packaging they came in? And what about dried peas? Will they last as long as beans? I am guessing it could take us close to a year to eat all of these dried beans and peas, if not longer! I really could use some tips for storing dried beans long term.
What Are the Best Ways to Store Dried Beans Long Term?
Our frugal readers always offer up the best frugal food storage tips so we asked them how to store dried beans long term. See the advice they sent in that can help ensure your dried beans don’t go bad.
Store Dried Beans in Glass Jars
I have been storing both dried beans and whole grains (whole-wheat flour, barley, rice, etc.) for many years in large glass jars that we keep on shelving in our basement. It works very well. I’ve never had an infestation of any kind.
You can ask for these 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 just can 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!
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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 because 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
Store Dried Beans Like a “Prepper”
There are many “prepper” websites and books that will tell you how to store beans and many other dry food items for up to 30 years.
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 or rice or other dried goods and 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
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 re-hydrate 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.
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!
Enjoy Quick Meals
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 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.
Store Dried Beans in Cooking Amounts
Put your beans into jars or other sturdy containers that will keep out insects. It will help at cooking time if you sort through the beans before repackaging. By getting rid of any rocks and dirt now, you will save time later. You might be happiest to use containers the size to hold one cooking’s amount of beans. That usually means pint or quart containers. A pound of dried beans is about a pint. They will easily store for a year or more.
Reviewed September 2021
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