One of the best shelf-stable protein sources you can stock up on as a prepper is dried beans. This wholesome food is a powerhouse of nutrients, and they’re incredibly versatile.
Knowing that dried beans are a must to include in your emergency food supply begs one crucial question: how long do dried beans last? Dried beans are cheap, provide essential survival calories, and have an incredibly long shelf life. However, how long they retain quality and flavor is highly dependant on their storage conditions. When you store dried beans properly, they can last for decades! Like with many prepper favorites, dried beans need to be stored in airtight containers under cool, dark conditions.
From this article, you’ll learn the exact shelf life of dried beans, how to properly store them, why they’re so important to have in your survival pantry, and the different types you should start stocking now. When you begin planning your pantry for long-term survival, your primary goal should be filling it with food items that offer the best nutrition and has the lowest risk of going bad. Dried beans tick both these boxes!
Do Dried Beans Go Bad?
While dried beans are listed as a survivalist food item that can last indefinitely, this is only true under the right storage conditions. In short, dried beans can go bad. There are many different ways to store dried beans, and each will afford this food item with a different expected shelf-life.
Vacuum Sealed Pouches + Glass Containers
If you store dried beans in vacuum-sealed pouches and transfer them to airtight glass jars, you can expect your beans to taste fresh for a minimum of 25 years. You can up this number by double sealing your beans with two vacuum seal pouches.
Tinplate Can + Oxygen Absorber
Considered the best storage solution, tinplate cans paired with oxygen absorbers would keep your dried beans good for a minimum of 30 years.
Mylar Bag + Oxygen Absorber + Airtight Container
The best way to keep dried beans good after opening your long-term storage solution is to transfer them to airtight glass jars. The secret to storing dried beans is keeping them away from oxygen, heat, moisture, and bugs.
How to Know If Your Dried Beans Have Gone Bad
Even when you follow seemingly perfect storage solutions, by the time you want to use those dried beans at the back of your pantry, you might be wondering if they’re still safe to consume. Generally, they will be, but if you spot any of the below, it’s safer to toss them!
- Bugs: If you spot bugs in your pantry and more so near your beans, you should do a thorough inspection before consuming them.
- Mold: Any visible traces of mold should be an indicator that your beans have gone off.
- Rancid Smell: Even after being store for decades, dried beans shouldn’t have a strong, putrid aroma. If you get a bad whiff when opening your beans, it could be a sign of fermentation or molding.
The last thing you’ll want is to end up sick while consuming food in survival circumstances. Although mold won’t necessarily kill you, if you have other food options available, rather stay away from dried beans that have gone bad.
Nutritional Value of Dried Beans
Dried beans are packed with nutrients that will improve your overall health. While dried beans vary, they can all be categorized as low in fat and high in fiber and protein. All dried beans are generally also a great source of calcium, copper, carbs, folate, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Consuming dried beans will help regulate your blood sugar and thyroid function, strengthen your immune system, relieve constipation, and keep your energy levels high.
How to Rehydrate and Cook Dried Beans
There are many different ways to cook dried beans, and their versatility makes them compatible with a variety of recipes and meals. If you want your dried beans to taste great and pack a nutritional punch even after years of storage, you need to follow the proper rehydrating technique. Although you might already have a preference on how you like to prepare and cook your dried beans, there are some things you should remember to keep in mind.
Soaking: When you soak dried beans, you rehydrate them, reduce cooking time, and save valuable nutrients that could run the risk of being lost during a prolonged cooking period. The larger your beans, the longer you’ll have to soak them, although generally, an overnight soak will do.
Avoid Baking Soda: While many recommend adding baking soda to your soaking water as a way to soften dried beans and reduce their cooking time, baking soda will also cause a decrease in its nutritional value.
Avoid Salt Before Cooking: Adding salt or other products with high calcium, magnesium, or acid levels to your soaking water will prevent the dried beans from softening. If you want to add salt to your beans, do so only after they’ve been cooked or have reached the desired tenderness.
There are many different ways to cook dried beans, and apart from different cooking methods, you can also grind dried beans to make flour. Bean flour opens a whole new door of baked goods, so if you’re going to stock a lot of beans in your pantry, it’ll be worth experimenting with different baking recipes too.
Instant Pot: Pressure cooking dried beans is considered the best method by many. A pressure cooker softens dried beans in minutes (about 10) while retaining texture and flavor. If you use this method, remember to cook on high and allow natural pressure release.
Slow Cooker: To slow cook beans, add pre-soaked beans to your crockpot and cover it with several inches of water. Slow cook your beans on high for about 3-4 hours or low for about 6 – 8 hours to achieve tender, cooked through beans. Adding a bit of olive oil before cooking will help reduce foaming.
Stovetop: You can cook pre-soaked beans on the stove by bringing a large pot of water to boil before adding the beans. Cover the beans and let them simmer for about 2 hours until tender but firm.
Dutch Oven and Fire: When SHTF, you might not have access to an electric stove or other appliances. If you have a Dutch Oven, grab some wood and make a campfire for cooking. Start by heating your Dutch Oven to a medium-high temperature before adding your beans and water. Bring it to a low boil and let it simmer for at least an hour before opening the lid. Hereafter, check on it regularly to ensure that it’s not boiling dry. The longer you cook your beans, the softer and better-tasting they’ll be.
Different Kinds of Beans
There are many different kinds of beans that you can choose to stock in your pantry. Choosing beans that you and your family already enjoy or are familiar with is a good way to go since each has its own distinctive taste and texture. Below we list some of the most popular choices.
Red Kidney Beans: This family favorite is packed with protein, can satisfy meaty cravings, and work great in a chili recipe.
Pinto Beans: Being packed with proteins, fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it’s easy to see why Pinto beans are among the most well-known beans in most parts of the world.
Adzuki Beans: While they’re more expensive than other types, Adzuki beans take the lead in vitamin and mineral provision and leave you with the least number of gastric issues.
Lima Beans: Packed with iron, Lima beans help prevent dangerous blood sugar levels and heart attacks or strokes.
Black Turtle Beans: These beans work great in a salad or soup, and they’re packed with fantastic nutrients.
Mung Beans: The antioxidants in Mung beans make them a great addition to any prepper pantry. Consuming these beans will help regulate your cholesterol levels, reverse the damage done to blood vessels, and lower inflammation. They also make easy sprouts to ensure an ongoing supply of fresh beans.
Chickpeas: As a great source of protein and fiber, chickpeas make an excellent meat substitute and are the key ingredient in hummus!
Navy Beans: As an excellent source of fiber, these soft, velvety beans should be a must on your preppers list.
Dried beans are an inexpensive, shelf-stable food item that can keep many people fed. It’s popular on the survival market with reason, and during a long-term disaster, these will keep your body and mind healthy and fuelled. If you want to be prepped and ready for hard times, storing beans is the ideal way to do this.
Because beans are so versatile, it’s a good idea to start experimenting with different recipes and putting your favorites aside. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand when SHTF. This way, you’ll be prepared with more than ingredients, and now that you know how long dried beans last, you can start stocking them with other compatible foods.