Dry beans are a core survival and emergency food because of their nutritional value and long shelf-life. When combined with a complimentary food like white rice, another survival food legend, they provide all nine essential amino acids to make a complete protein. Store beans correctly, and they will outlast you.
How Long Do Beans Last?
Beans will last one to two years kept in regular store packaging. Beans have a shelf-life of 30 years if repackaged into Oxygen-free containers such as sealed Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers or sealed #10 cans.
Beans will maintain maximum quality if repackaged and stored in a cool, dry location. Avoid storing next to hot spots like next to an oven, refrigerator, or furnace. Also, avoid storing beans in a hot area such as a garage or outdoor shed.
I’ve personally stored hundreds of pounds of pinto and black beans in my emergency storage using the trifecta of food-grade buckets, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers, so I practice what I preach. Keep reading to make ready your catastrophe bean supply.
Where Is The Best Place To Store Beans For Long-term Storage?
The best place to store your beans is in a climate-controlled area that keeps temperatures above 32° Fahrenheit and below 70° Fahrenheit.
Maintaining these temperature isn’t possible for most of us, so do your best and keep your beans as cool as you can.
Finding a place to store your beans can be a challenge so get creative. I retrofitted a walk in closet to hold my emergency food supplies and other catastrophe gear. I moved clothes I don’t wear often to an outdoor shed and my everyday duds are in a bathroom cupboard.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Why Do Beans Last Longer When Packaged Oxygen-free?
Dry beans exposed to oxygen will deteriorate over time due to the effects of oxidation. Oxidation occurs when oxygen combines with foodstuffs and breaks it down or alters it, affecting the texture, flavor, and nutritional value.
According to the National Laboratory of Medicine, oxygen causes fats to oxidize and decreases bean nutrition, flavor, and overall quality.
Learn more about storing one of the top 4 survival foods, beans, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “Beans For Long-term Storage.”
Chart #1 Dry Beans Shelf Life
|Dried Bean/Legume Type||Average Shelf-life In|
|Adzuki Beans||25 to 30|
|Kidney Bean||25 to 30|
|Pinto Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Mung Bean||25 to 30|
|Soybean–Dehydrated (soya/edamame)||10 to 15 Years|
|Split Pea-Freeze-dried||Up to 30 Years|
|Black Turtle Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Black-eyed pea (Cowpeas)||Up to 30 Years|
|Black Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Navy Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Lentils||Up to 30 Years|
|Lima Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Pink Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Garbanzo or Chick Peas||Up to 30 Years|
|Cranberry Beans (Roman Beans)||Up to 30 Years|
|Pigeon Peas||Up to 30 Years|
|Cannellini||Up to 30 Years|
The sixteen varieties listed in the chart below are the best beans for emergency food because they are readily available and cover the gambit of what you might use them for in a survival scenario, everything from soups, stews, and chilis to making your soy milk and tofu.
The bulk of my bean storage is pinto beans and black beans because these are the types I regularly find on sale, and my whole family likes eating them.
Chart #2 Best Beans For Survival: Nutrition and Calories
Bean Type–One Cup Boiled
|Soybean Dehydrated (soybean, edamame)||298||29g||56g||15g|
|Black Turtle Bean||227||15g||25.8||.8g|
|Black-eyed pea (Cowpeas)||194||13g||35g||.9g|
|Navy Bean||255||15 g||47g||1.13|
|Lentils (not a bean)||230||17.9||39.9||.8g|
|Lima Bean||217||15 g||39g||.7g|
|Pink Bean (related to the kidney bean)||252||15.3g||47.2||.8g|
|Garbanzo/Chick Peas||269||15 g||45g||4.2g|
|Cranberry Beans (Roman Beans)||241||16.5g||43g||.8g|
Chart #3 Tools You Need To Store Beans
|Five Gallon Food Grade Bucket(s)||Approximately 35 Pounds of Beans Fit in one 5-gallon bucket|
|Plastic Bucket Lid(s)||Inexpensive lid(s) without a seal works fine|
|18″x28″ Mylar Bag(s)||Mylar should be at least five mils thick|
|Clothes Iron||You can also use a hair straightening iron or an impulse sealer|
|Permanent Marker||Write the type of food and date on every bucket|
|3000 cc Oxygen Absorption||Beans aren’t as dense as rice and wheat, so they need more oxygen absorption|
|A scrap of Dimensional Lumber||To place the bag over when you are sealing|
|Scissors||For a clean-cut when opening the bag|
|One-gallon Mylar bags: (optional)||To store overflow beans that won’t fit in the 5-gallon buckets and Mylar bags|
|500 CC Oxygen Absorbers (optional)||Place one 500 cc oxygen absorber in each 1-gallon bag of beans|
How To Store Beans Long Term: Eleven Easy Steps
Store beans in Mylar bags and food-grade buckets with oxygen absorbers (oxygen-free) to protect beans from light, moisture, oxygen, bugs, and rodents. You can also purchase beans professionally packaged in #10 cans for the same effect but at a higher price.
The best Do It Yourself Method for dry Bean Storage is definitely Mylar bags combined with Oxygen Absorbers and a Lidded 5-gallon bucket. Mylar is a true oxygen barrier, plastic is not. The buckets act as armor to protect the sealed mylar and the oxygen absorbers reduce oxygen levels to less than 1% in the bucket, halting food oxidation.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Light, moisture, and oxygen reduce bean shelf-life by decades, so protect beans against all three elements to maximize shelf-life. The trifecta of Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and oxygen absorber treatment protects beans from every element that can reduce shelf life, including bugs.
Store canned beans for specific emergency scenarios, learn more by reading the Ready Squirrel article, “Dried vs. Canned Beans For Prepping: Why I store Mostly Dried Beans.”
How To Store Beans In 11 Steps: Bean Storage Guide
Line A 5-Gallon Food-grade Bucket With a Mylar Bag
Line your 5-gallon food-grade bucket with an 18″x28″ Mylar bag that is 5mils or more in thickness.
Pour Dry Beans Into the Mylar bag.
Pour dry beans into the Mylar bag 1″ or more from the rim of the bucket.
You can store any dry beans in long-term storage with Oxygen absorbers as long as they are less than 10% in moisture.
Gently pull the Mylar bag up and tap to compact dry beans
Fill beans one inch from the top or rim of the bucket so you can get the lid on
Ready to stockpile food for a cataclysm? Ready the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Survival Food For the Cataclysm
Place 2500 to 3000 cc oxygen absorbption In the bag of beans
For dried beans, you need 2500 to 3000 cc of oxygen absorption, I prefer to use the 2000cc absorbers, but you can combine smaller absorbers for the total absorption. For example, you could use six 500cc absorbers to reach 3000 ccs of absorption capacity.
Seal The Bag
I use a household iron set on the hottest setting to seal my bags. On my iron, it’s the linen setting. You can also use a hair straightening iron or purchase an impulse sealer specifically designed for the purpose.
When sealing the bag, keep the iron moving, don’t let it sit in one place too long to avoid scorching or pinholing.
Write the Date and Food-type On the Bag
It’s essential to mark your Mylar bags or buckets with the type of food and date. You will quickly lose track of what foods you have stored if bags and buckets aren’t marked with food type.
I’ve forgotten to write food info on a bag. I end up cutting it open to find out what’s inside. It’s a pain because the food has to be repackaged.
Let the Bucket Sit Until Cool
When oxygen absorbers scavenge oxygen from a container, they heat up and can create a vacuum-type seal.
It takes an oxygen absorber 4 hours to finish working in the bag, and then it will start to cool down.
Air is composed of approximately 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The oxygen absorbers only remove Oxygen.
Gently Fold the Mylar bag into the bucket
When the Mylar is cool to the touch, fold the top of the bag into the bucket and snap on the plastic lid.
Mylar is pretty tough, but it can be punctured or torn. I feel like it should be handled with kid gloves, especially when there are 35 pounds of beans in it.
Place a plastic lid on the bucket
The lid keeps the critters out and allows for organizing, stacking, and stowing of food buckets.
For working buckets, accessed often, consider using a Gamma lid for easy access. Gamma lids have a central lid that can be screwed on and off the bucket without removing the lidded outer ring. They are relatively expensive.
Store buckets in a cool, dry location away from warm appliances.
Avoid stacking buckets more than three high, or they will crack or tumble over. You can see I didn’t follow my advice. The bucket on the bottom is starting to crack.
Storing Beans That Won’t Fit In The Bucket
If you are storing food in 5-gallon buckets, you will have “overflow’ or extra Beans that won’t fit into the 5-gallon bucket(s) and 18″x 28” Mylar bag(s).
To remedy this, I use one gallon-Mylar bags, with a minimum of 500 ccs of oxygen absorption for each 1-gallon Mylar bag of beans.
To seal the smaller bags, follow the eleven-step process listed above, minus the 5-gallon bucket. If you are worried about critters chewing your smaller bags, store them in a lidded plastic bin. For other storage size options, see the chart below.
Learn how to cook old beans in the Ready Squirrel article, “9 Ways To Tenderize Old-dried-beans.”
Chart #4 Overflow Containers And CC Oxygen Absorbers
|Container Size||Bag Dimensions||CC Oxygen Absorber(s) For White Rice|
|1 Quart (1/4 gallon) Mylar Bag||6″x10″||200 cc|
|1/2 Gallon Mylar Bag||8″x12″||500 cc|
|1 Gallon Mylar Bag||10″x14″||500 cc|
|1.5 Gallon Mylar Bag||12″x18″||1000 to 1200 cc|
|2 Gallon Mylar Bag||14″x20″||1500 to 2000 cc|
|5 Gallon Mylar Bag||20″x30″ or 18″x28″||2500 to 3000 cc|
|6 Gallon Mylar Bag||20″x30″ or 18″x28″||2500 to 3000 cc|
Learn more about storing beans for hoarding. Check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How to Preserve Beans In Long-term Storage. “
“Should You Freeze Beans Before Long Term Storage?” Ready Squirrel
“Best Dried Beans For Long Term Storage” Ready Squirrel
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Food Storage, Getting Started
A Guide to Food Storage, Brian Nummer Food Safety Specialist, Utah State University PDF
Cooking Dry Beans PCC Natural Markets PDF
Dried Beans, Peas and Lentils: Can Help You Save Money, Iowa State University PDF
Cooking With Beans and Legumes, Kansas State University PDF