Learn how to store dried beans long-term to build an emergency food supply using buckets, Mylar bags, and oxygen absorbers. After a lot of research, I found the easiest and most effective do-it-yourself method for quickly storing hundreds of pounds of dry beans for maximum shelf life.
Store beans by repackaging them from store packaging into Mylar bags and food-grade buckets and treating them with oxygen absorbers to remove oxygen. Once repackaged, keep beans in a cool, dry location for a 25 to 30 years shelf-life.
To store beans for short-term storage, put them in an airtight container, store them in a cool, dry location, and protect them from light for a one to two-year shelf-life.
Look at the equipment you’ll need to start storing your dry beans.
I learned from experience that you want to have your gear laid out and ready to go before you start repackaging your bulk food so the process will go much smoother.
#1 Five-gallon bucket
One bucket for every 34 pounds of beans to be stored.
#2 Plastic bucket Lid
I use the cheap Walmart lids in the paint section. The lid doesn’t have to have a seal. Heat sealing the Mylar will take care of that.
#3 18″x28″ Mylar Bag
One bag per 34 pounds of beans, at least five mils in thickness.
#4 Clothes Iron
I use a regular clothes iron, but you can also use a hair straightening iron or impulse sealer.
#5 Permanent Marker
I write the type of food being stored and the date on the Mylar bag and the bucket lid.
#6 3000 ccs of Oxygen Absorption
It doesn’t matter what size absorbers you use as long it is equal to the amount of oxygen absorption needed for the type and amount of food.
#7 Scrap Piece of Dimensional lumber
I use a scrap piece of 2″x4″ to place under the Mylar bag when sealing.
#8 Pair of Scissors
Getting a clean cut on a fifty-pound bag of beans makes it easier to pour into the bag without getting them all over the floor.
Learn more about storing beans in long-term food storage. Check out the Ready Squirrel article “Beans for Long-term Storage: Top Survival Food.”
Ok, let’s get down and dirty. Time to store some beans.
11 Easy Steps To Store Dry Beans
Step #1: Line A 5-gallon Bucket with a Mylar Bag
Line your bucket with a 1″ ” x”8″ Mylar bag and get ready to pour beans in the bucket and on the floor.
Step #2: Pour Dry Beans Into the Mylar Bag
Pour beans inside the Mylar bag 2 inches from the rim of the food-grade bucket.
If you overfill or mound the beans, you will have difficulty getting the lid on and creating a dome, making it harder to stack buckets for storage.
I have yet to fill Mylar bags with food and not get it all over the floor, and I’m’ always doing it by myself. Things will go smoother if you can recruit a friend or family member to help.
Step #3: Once filled, gently Lift the Mylar Bag and Tap to compact
If you lift the bag and tap it a couple of times during the filling process, you will be able to get more beans into the bucket.
Mylar is pretty tough but be as gentle as you can when handling it.
Step #4 Four: Place 3000 CCs Worth of Oxygen Absorber Inside the Mylar Bag
Place 3000 ccs worth of oxygen absorbers inside the bag. It doesn’t matter what size you use as long as the total cc count is 3000. If you have to go over the cc amount to reach 3000that’s’s ok.
You can use 2500 ccs for some beans, but it is unclear when, so I always use the higher cc to ensure I’m scrubbing the oxygen.
I prefer to have three sizes of oxygen absorbers on hand to mix and match depending on the type of food and the container size.
I try to keep 2000cc, 500cc, and 200cc oxygen absorbers on hand.
This is a simple process, but if you forget to put oxygen absorbers in the Mylar bag before sealing it, you will start over and waste materials. I know from experience.
Ready to prep for the Cataclysm? Check out the Ready Squirrel article, Cheap Survival Food For the Cataclysm.
Step #5: Seal The Mylar Bag With The Iron
Plug your clothes iron in and set it to the highest setting. Onit’st’s warmed to temperature, start sealing the bag.
Place a piece of scrap board over the top of the bucket, fold the Mylar bag over the board and seal the top of the bag with a household iron on the hottest setting.
I put my iron on the linen setting, the hottest setting on my iron. You may have different settings, so go for the hottest setting.
Be careful where you place the iron when you plug it in and ensure you have enough cord to get the job done. I burned myself on the leg once, not paying attention.
Don’t walk away from a hot iron. Unplug it first.
Step #6: Write the Package Date And Food Type On The Mylar Bag
Use the permanent marker to write the date and food type on the mylar bag. I also write this information on the lid if I remember.
This may be overkill but keeps you from removing the lid to find out what kind of food is in a bucket.
Step #7: Let the Bucket Sit Until Cool
When oxygen absorbers get going, they heat up.
It takes about 4 hours before an oxygen absorber is spent once the Mylar is cool to the touch, move to step #8.
Step #8: Gently Fold the top of the Mylar Bag Into the Bucket
Step #9: Place the Plastic lid on the Bucket
Step #10: Store The Bucket(s)
Store bean buckets in a cool, dry location up off the floor in a room of 75° Fahrenheit or less but above freezing.
Avoid storing these buckets in a hot shed or garage. High temperatures and significant fluctuations in temperature kill shelf life.
Avoid stacking buckets more than three high. If you look at the buckets stacked four high on the right, you can see that the bottom bucket is starting to buckle. Also, my buckets are on the floor.
It just goes to show you do the best you can with the resources you have. My food storage area is small, so I have to make do.
Step #11: Store Beans That Won’t Fit In The Bucket(s)
When you store beans using the trifecta method, you will have some beans that won’t fit in the bucket unless you are much better at planning than I am.
Use the same method to seal the one-gallon bags you used to seal the 18″x28″ Mylar bags lining the food buckets.
The best I’ve found for packaging the leftover beans is to use small 1-gallon Mylar bags and 400 ccs worth of oxygen absorbers. Remember, you can’t use too much oxygen absorption, only too little.
Ideally, you would store the one-gallon bags of beans in a lidded plastic tote or container for protection.
Best Bulk Bean Storage: The Trifecta
The best bean storage containers are undoubtedly the trifecta of Mylar bags, food-grade buckets, and treatment with oxygen-absorbers. The following are why these combined storage containers are hands down the best do-it-yourself storage container for bulk bean storage.
#1 Mylar Bag
Mylar bags offer essential oxygen, moisture, and light barrier. The only food storage container I can think of that offers these three elements are #10 cans. #10 cans aren’t a DIY container for the average prepper, so they must be purchased professionally, which costs more.
Mylar bags are tough but susceptible to physical damage from handling, chewing insects, and rodents.
#2 5-gallon food-grade bucket
Buckets are made of plastic; plastic isn’t an oxygen barrier because it is porous. This is why it is not suggested to store beans and other dry foods in just buckets.
If oxygen can transfer in and out of a bucket, oxygen absorbers won’t kill bugs or stop the oxidation of food.
The lids on 5-gallon buckets are notorious for leaking. If they leak, moisture and oxygen can get in the bucket, both of which are the enemy of bulk bean storage.
When combined with Mylar bags, buckets are excellent for bulk bean storage because they are protective armor for the Mylar. Remember that beans and other dry foods will store for 30 years. That is a long time to sit around without being protected from chewing bugs, rodents, and physical damage.
When enough ccs of Oxygen absorption are placed inside a sealed Mylar bag, they will bring the oxygen in the container below 1%, protecting food from oxidation and reducing food quality over time.
A less than 1% oxygen environment will kill bugs, eggs, and pupae within two weeks.
Freezing or treating beans or other dry staples for bugs is unnecessary if oxygen absorbers are used in a storage container that provides a true oxygen barrier.
Best Beans For Bulk Storage
Chart#1: Survival Beans: Nutrition and Shelf-life
|Bean Type–One Cup Boiled||Calories|
|Soybean Dehydrated (soybean, edamame)||298||29g||56g||15g||10-15|
|Black Turtle Bean||227||15g||25.8||.8g||25-30|
|Black-eyed pea (Cowpeas)||194||13g||35g||.9g||25-30|
|Navy Bean||255||15 g||47g||1.13||25-30|
|Lentils (not a bean)||230||17.9||39.9||.8g||25-30|
|Lima Bean||217||15 g||39g||.7g||25-30|
|Pink Bean (related to the kidney bean)||252||15.3g||47.2||.8g||25-30|
|Garbanzo/Chick Peas||269||15 g||45g||4.2g||25-30|
|Cranberry Beans (Roman Beans)||241||16.5g||43g||.8g||25-30|
Top 3 Beans For Long-term Storage
Soybeans are a powerhouse of nutrition. Full-stop, no other bean comes close to providing as many calories, protein, or fat in an emergency scenario.
The best bean for long-term emergency storage is the soybean. One cup of boiled soybeans provides 298 calories, 29g of protein, 56g of carbohydrates, and 15g of fat, more nutrition than any readily available bean. Also, they provide nine essential amino acids. Dehydrated beans will store for 10 to 15 years.
Before storing soybeans in long-term storage, consider the comparatively short shelf-life and that you will have to learn how to use They’rey’re not like cooking with pinto, kidney, or navy beans.
#2 Navy Beans
Navy beans are excellent. Probably my favorite bean for long-term storage, and they are so creamy and delicious I’m willing to forgo a little nutrition. Still, Navy beans pack a sizeable punch regarding calories and nutrition.
Per cooked cup, Navy beans offer 255 calories, 15 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbohydrate, and 1.1 grams of fat. Not bad for something this tasty.
#3 Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
If you are my age, you might remember these as an additional ingredient at the salad bar, but Garbanzos are a staple food eaten throughout the Middle East in the form of Hummus and falafel.
Hummus is a spread that can be used on leavened and unleavened bread, crackers, or fresh vegetables from the emergency garden.
Falafel is fried fritters made from mashed chickpeas, herbs, and spices.
One cup of cooked Chick Peas provides 269 calories, 15 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.2 grams of fat per serving.
Other things you can make with Garbanzo Beans: add them to pasta, roast them, or add them to a curry sauce, soups or stews.
Once get the beans going, check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How To Store Rice In Long Term Storage: By The Numbers.”
10 Ways to Eat Beans
There are many different ways to cook with bulk beans, and they are an essential staple and probably the best of the comfort foods that have been stored for decades. Let’s take a quick look at what you can cook and how you can use beans from emergency food stockpiles.
#1 Sprout for microgreens
You can sprout beans for nutritious micro-greens if they are still viable.
Imagine being stuck in winter with 2 feet of snow on the ground. Ydon’tn’t have any fresh produce, and you can sprout an lb of beans or wheat berries in two days to get a healthy supply of highly nutritious greens.
#2 Add beans to soup and stews.
Making a vegetable stew out of the emergency garden, why not throw in a cup or two of pre-cooked beans to kick up the flavor and texture of the soup or stew or grind the beans into flour and use them to thicken the broth?
Sprinkle a cold salad with cooked beans and a shot of vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Make a pasta salad and add some beans.
Add vegetables from your emergency gardens, such as spinach, kale, onions, garlic, and chives.
#4 Sweet Bean Paste
At first, Japanese Sweet Beans were a little strange, but I learned to love them. When stationed in Japan, most of the pastry fillings were sweet beans. It sounds a little strange, but this stuff is everywhere.
Mashed red beans and sugar are all you need to make a sweet pastry filling or a spread for homemade bread from your wheat stores.
Sugar has an indefinite shelf life, and beans last up to 30 years. This is something worth looking into. Imagine a situation where there are no sweets available. Making some sweet bean paste and filling pastries could become a post-apocalyptic business.
#5 Beans and Rice
This is a match made in heaven. Stewed beans are poured over a pile of steaming long-grain rice and topped with a vinegar-based hot sauce like Tabasco. Yum.
When beans and rice are eaten together, they offer a complementary protein.
#6 Beans and Wheat
Boil wheat berries whole (porridge) and eat beans on top.
When beans and wheat berries are eaten together, they offer a complementary protein.
#7 Stewed with salt, onions, and garlic
Stew beans with spices, herbs, and vegetables and spoon on cooked rice, pasta, or wheat porridge.
#8 Refried Beans
Refried beans are good with home-baked bread, tortillas, or cornbread. Make beans burritos or eat refried beans as a healthy protein-filled sidedish.
#9 Beans and Pasta
Beans and pasta are in a lot of Italian meals.
Pasta e Fagioli (Italian pasta and beans), Tuscan white bean pasta, pasta with tomatoes and beans, and black bean pasta are a few possible recipes.
#10 Feed Large Groups
Beans are an excellent way to feed a large group of people. Imagine feeding a crew or a farm team working on your Bug-out site.
Set up a pot of beans and rice; you’ve got a modern-day soupline.
Check out the Ready Squirrel article” “9 Ways to Tenderize Old Dried Beans.”
Why Store Emergency Beans?
Bulk Beans are one of the top three emergency foods to store for long-term emergency scenarios. They are loaded with protein and nutrients and have an excellent shelf-life.
Bulk Beans are packed with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Averaging 22% protein, beans provide the highest protein of any seed crop. They come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors to alleviate palet fatigue, and they are cheap, shelf-stable, and provide a 30-year shelf-life.
Dried beans don’t have water weight, so they are lighter than canned beans.
Bulk beans are much less expensive than professionally packaged survival foods and cheaper than canned beans.
If still viable, dry beans can be sprouted in an emergency for a nutritious source of greens. You can sprout under most conditions.
Beans can be ground into flour when they are too tough to cook. The flour can be used as a thickener for soups and stews.
You control how much salt and seasoning go into cooked beans. If you are on a low-sodium diet, this is a good thing.
Pick the best type of beans for your survival situation”, “Dried VS. Canned Beans For Prepping: Why I store mostly dry beans.”
For a comprehensive view of emergency food storage, check out ReaSquirrel’sl’s article, How Much Food to Stockpile Per Person.