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Beans For Long Term Storage: Top Survival Food

Dried beans for long term storage are one of the best foods you can store for long-term emergencies or survival food because beans are easy to store, lightweight, and packed with nutrition. Also, They are also a proven staple food.

Beans are a filling comfort food packed with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Averaging 22% protein, they provide the highest protein of any seed crop. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors to alleviate palet fatigue. Beans are cheap, shelf-stable, and provide a 30-year shelf-life.

Beans, peas and lentils are all legumes and are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat and high in fiber, folate, potassium, iron and magnesium.

beans for long term storage #10 cans

Chart #1: best beans for long term storage

Bean TypeOne Cup Boiled

Adzuki Bean29417g57g.2g
Kidney Bean225 15g40g.9g
Pinto Bean24515g45g.3g
Mung Bean21314g39g.8g
Soybean Dehydrated (soybean, edamame)29829g56g15g
Split Pea23116g41g.8g
Black Turtle Bean22715g25.8.8g
Black-eyed pea (Cowpeas)19413g35g.9g
Black Bean22715g25.8g.8g
Navy Bean25515 g47g1.13
Lentils (not a bean)23017.939.9.8g
Lima Bean217 15 g39g.7g
Pink Bean (related to the kidney bean)25215.3g47.2.8g
Garbanzo/Chick Peas26915 g45g4.2g
Cranberry Beans (Roman Beans)24116.5g43g.8g
Pigeon Peas20311.4g39g.64g
Cannellini 22515.440.4g.9g
Information Compliments of the USDA

Top 3 storage containers ( Beans in Long-term storage)

#1 Industrial cans (#10 cans)

Purchase beans stored in #10 cans for a 30-year shelf-life. My favorite place to get these cans is from the LDS pantry online.

Up next, is the best DIY container for bean storage.

#2 Mylar bags

Beans can be stored in just Mylar bags and treated with oxygen absorbers or the bags can be used to line 5-gallon buckets for protection.

Mylar is a product of the space age, a food container that provides proper Oxygen, moisture, and light barrier. Make sure to use bags that are at least five mils or thicker.

My favorite “Do It Yourself Method,” of storing beans is a 5-gallon food-grade bucket lined with an 18″x28″ Mylar bag sealed with a 2000cc Oxygen absorber inside. Food-grade buckets alone are an insufficient Oxygen barrier but they protect the Mylar like armor and they are easier to stack and organize.

Scott, Ready Squirrel

Let’s examine, canning jars as bean storage containers.

Storage Tip: You might be wondering about using just a 5-gallon food-grade bucket without Mylar; the problem is the plastic in the bucket isn’t an oxygen barrier. Over time (decades), Oxygen levels will go above 1%, which degrades food and may allow bug eggs to hatch.

#3 Canning jars (Ball jars)

Canning jars or ball jars are good storage containers for small quantities of beans as long as jars are covered or stored in a dark pantry to avoid light oxidation of food.

Cons of Canning Jars for Bean Storage

They are expensive, need to be stored in a dark location, break easily, and aren’t as convenient to store as, say, a Mylar-lined food-grade bucket that can be stacked.

Freezing dry staples is an outdated method of killing bugs. Ready Squirrel article, “Should You Freeze Beans Before Long-term Storage?”

Check out the comprehensive Ready Squirrel article, “How to Preserve Beans In Long Term Storage.”

Warning: Dry foods stored oxygen-free should contain 10% moisture or less and be low in fat. Beans stored with a higher moisture level could lead to botulism and food poisoning.

Up next, are tools needed for repackaging beans for long-term storage..

Tools and Equipment (Repackaging dry beans)

When you get ready to repackage your beans, things will go smoother if you stage all of your equipment and tools before you start. Following is a list of tools I use to repackage dried beans and my other dried goods. Hopefully, this will help you get set up for a painless session of dried bean storage.

#1 Mylar Bag(s)

18″x28″ Mylar Bag(s) (This is the size I use) or 20″x30″

1-gallon Mylar bags for overflow

#2 Bucket(s)

5-gallon food-grade bucket with a cheap lid (when using Mylar, you don’t need a fancy lid with a seal)

#3 Iron

Standard Clothes Iron to heat-seal the Mylar Bag

#4 Marker

Permanent Marker to mark the package with the packing date and food type

#5 Oxygen Absorber(s)

2500cc Oxygen Absorber(s) for 5-gallon bucket line with an 18″x28″ Mylar bag

500cc Oxygen Absorber(s) for 1-gallon overflow bag(s) for extra beans that won’t fit into your bucket

#6 Board

Wood Board used to place the top of the bag over when you seal it with the iron

#7 Scissors

Scissors to cut open the bean bag, scissors make a clean cut, so it’s easier to pour the rice out of the bag

How to store beans long-term

13 meals with dry beans

My favorite way to eat beans is a long slow stew with onions, garlic, and many spices. If I have it, I like to throw in some cajun sausage. It goes well with rice for a complimentary protein. That said, there are many things you can do with beans in storage.

#1 Sprout for microgreens

As long as they are still viable, you can sprout beans and a lot of the hard grains in your pantry. (see the video below of me growing wheat.

Imagine being stuck in a winter location with 2 feet of snow on the ground. You don’t have any fresh produce. You can sprout an lb of beans or wheat berries in two days to get a healthy supply of highly nutritious greens.

#2 Soup

Mix beans with soup to add flavor, texture, and protein.

#3 Stew

Add beans to the stew to increase protein.

#4 Thickener

Ground to flour as a thickener for baked bread

#5 Dip

Ground to flour or mashed to create a dip

#6 Pastry filling

Sweeten and use as a filling for pastries

Japanese Sweet Beans were a little strange at first, but I learned to love them. When I was stationed in Japan, most of the pastry fillings were sweet beans. Don’tknock it until you try it.

#7 Beans and rice 

When beans and rice are eaten together, they offer a complete complementary protein.

#8 Beans and wheat

Boil wheat berries whole (porridge) and eat beans on top.

When beans and wheat berries are eaten together, they offer a complete complementary protein.

#9 Boiled with salt

Boil beans and eat them plain or add them to additional meals for a shot of protein. I like to eat beans on rice. If you do, too, I suggest storing soy sauce as a condiment. It has an indefinite shelf-life, and Tabasco has a shelf-life of 5 years.

#10 Refried beans

Good with home-baked bread, tortillas, or cornbread

#11 Vegetable Medley

Mix left-over beans with garden produce from your survival garden

#12 Salads

Mix beans with cooked pasta, another staple from long-term storage

#13 Bulk Feeding

This is a side idea, but beans are an excellent way to feed a large group of people. Imagine feeding a work crew or a farm team working on your Bug-out site. Set up a big pot of beans and rice, and you’ve got a modern-day soupline.

White bean stew

7 Ways to soften hard beans (beans for long term)

Old beans that aren’t stored correctly or cooked in hard water may be tough after cooking. Here are some methods you can use to tenderize hard beans.

#1 Pre-boil

Boil beans for 10 minutes and let them sit for thirty minutes before cooking.

#2 Baking Soda

Add baking soda to your soaking water. For every pound of beans ad 1/4 tsp of baking soda, don’t go overboard using baking soda, or beans turn to mush. Adding baking soda to soaking water may reduce B complex vitamins.

#3 Pressure cooker

Soften beans in a stovetop pressure cooker or an instant pot.

#4 Extend cook time

Simmer beans for more than 45 minutes. Cook them forever.

#5 Avoid spices

Avoid adding salt or anything with salt in it until after the beans are cooked to tenderness.

#6 Avoid acid

Avoid adding anything acidic to beans (canned tomatoes) until after they are cooked.

#7 Soak

To soften, soak beans overnight before cooking.

    For a more thorough discussion of tenderizing hard beans, check out the Ready Squirrel article, 9 Ways to Tenderize Old Beans.”

    Store beans for long term storage

    I store dry beans because they are inexpensive and they store for 30 years in oxygen-free storage. Also, it is easy to repackage a lot of food for long-term storage in a short period. I consider dried beans as one of the top three foods to store as long-term emergency food, along with white rice and wheat.

    Dry beans are inexpensive compared to other survival foods, and they offer a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition. Many a civilization has survived with the bulk of their diet being white rice and beans.

    To learn more about storing dry beans check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Dried vs. Canned Beans for Prepping: Why I store Mostly Dry Beans.”


    I was kind of worried about this with the canned beans. I’m not too fond of the idea of surviving long-term on something that isn’t fresh and has less nutritional value, but all being equal, they are about the same nutritionally.

    Canned and dried beans have virtually the same nutritional value, and both types are boiled before consumption, and the canning process has little to no effect on a bean’s nutritional value. Canned beans may contain sodium, preservatives, or additional ingredients; dry beans do not.

    Beans are boiled before they are eaten to remove lectins (poisons) present in the raw form.

    Dried vs. Canned Bean: Storage Life

    Dried beans stored oxygen-free will store for 20 to 30 years, and canned beans will keep for five years plus. The actual shelf life of canned food doesn’t have a definitive answer.

    There are no hard and fast rules on canned bean shelf-life.

    Most hardcore preppers will say that canned beans last much longer than five years, maybe a decade or more, but we don’t have a reliable way of knowing just how long canned beans will store. This is one reason I prefer them for short-term emergencies and not so much for long-term storage.

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service, three Dates may be on food products, and none of them tell you when canned beans are no longer inedible.

    A “sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale, and you should buy the product before the date expires.

    A Best if Used By or Before date is recommended for the best flavor or quality, and it is not a purchase or safety date and is not required by law.

    A “Use-By Date” is the last date recommended for using the product while at peak quality. The manufacturer of the product has determined the date. The Use-By date is typically on refrigerated foods like milk and eggs.

    10 Signs Canned Beans Should be Thrown Out

    The best way to tell if canned beans have headed south is by using your senses. Canned food will let you know when it’s time to throw it in the bin. When in doubt, throw it out.

    #1 Leaking

    A can is leaking or stained

    #2 Swollen

    If a can is swollen don think twice, it’s not good.

    #3 Rust

    Rust could show signs that the seal is broken on the can. The rust itself isn’t an indication of bad food but that the can hasn’t been stored properly.

    #4 Dents

    If you just dented it, a can eat it right away. Dropping a can on the floor and denting it might break the seal. When in doubt, throw it out.

    #5 Cracked

    If a can is Cracked, throw it out.

    #6 Odors

    Foul Odors, this is a no-brainer.

    #7 Missing Lid (glass jars)

    Missing or loose lids-throw it out

    #8 Color and texture change

    Beans in the can change color or odor- if the canned food is ancient, this is a tough call. It’soing to depend on how hungry you are.

    #9 I’m not sure

    When in doubt, throw it out

    #10 Don’t taste test

    Don’taste-test beans you are not sure of. Throw them out.


    How Long Do Beans Last? 16 Top-tier Survival Beans, Ready Squirrel

    Bean Cooking Chart, PCC Natural Markets PDF

    Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils Can Help You Save $$, Iowa State University, PDF

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