To freeze beans or not to freeze beans, that is the question. This month I am repackaging 72 lbs of dry black beans into Oxygen-free food-grade buckets. Should I freeze the beans to kill weevil eggs, or is there a better way? There is definitely a better method of controlling bugs than freezing.
Do not freeze beans before long-term storage. Freezing to kill bugs, eggs, and pupae, is not as reliable as storage in an oxygen-free container. Freezing increases moisture content, leading to mold growth, chemical oxidation, or spoilage in long-term storage.
Using Mylar bags and/or food-grade pales with Oxygen absorbers is a quicker, more effective method of processing dry beans for long-term storage than freezing.
Freezing Beans Is Not An Effective Way to Kill Bug Eggs
Weevils are the main bug that invades beans and other whole grains. Most beans may have bug eggs when you get them, so you have to process them before long-term storage to make sure eggs don’t hatch and infest your food.
The problem with freezing is some types of weevil eggs can survive freezing temperatures. Imagine a weevil egg surviving on a stalk of wheat during the winter months in North Dakota. Weevil eggs may not be killed even if frozen. You won’t necessarily know what kind of weevil you have. Don’t waste a lot of time and freezer space to “maybe” kill bug eggs.
Weevils eat just about any dry whole food in your pantry including, dry beans, whole grain, nuts, corn, and cereal, and they will travel from dry food to dry food.
Freezing Beans Increases Moisture Content
Moisture is debatably the number one enemy of long-term food storage.
When you store dry beans in your freezer, you combine your freezer’s cold temperatures with air, which creates moisture or condensation when the beans are removed from the freezer. There is no way around it. Avoid freezing dry beans. It may cause them to spoil quicker.
Warning: Dried foods like beans, rice, and other whole grains must be stored with 10% or less moisture content in an oxygen-free container to avoid botulism and other foodborne bacteria.
Oxygen-Free Containers Are The Best Way To Kill Bugs
Storing dry beans in Oxygen-free containers kills bugs, bug eggs, and pupae within 2 weeks, and it’s quicker than freezing. Storing beans like this also gives the beans a 30 plus year shelf-life. What prepper doesn’t love that?
Not to mention storing beans this way also removes two other ways food spoils by eliminating light and oxygen. If beans have less than 10% moisture when sealed, you’ve taken care of the moisture issue. Now all you have to worry about is heat, store your rice in a cool, dry location, and you’re looking at dry beans that will store for decades.
Why freeze your beans when you can drop a 2000 CC Oxygen absorber in an 18″x24″ Mylar bag, seal it and forget about it?
Watch the Ready Squirrel video below to learn how to store dry beans in buckets with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, including the tools you need and step-by-step instructions.
Time and Freezer Space
If you’re doing long-term storage, you are probably processing large quantities of dry beans because you are buying in bulk to get good deals.
Let’s say you bought a 50 lb bag of black or pinto beans at a big box store.
How many pounds of beans can you fit in your freezer? Let’s say it’s 10 pounds. So the first 10 lbs need to be in the freezer for 5 days if you follow suggested guidelines for killing bugs. That means it will take you 5 weeks of freezer time to process a 50 lb bag of beans. Uh, no thanks.
Learn the best way to store beans for maximum shelf life read the Ready Squirrel article, “Store Bulk Beans Like a Rockstar.”
Freezing Doesn’t Eliminate Bacteria, Oxygen-Free Storage Does
An oxygen-free storage container eliminates aerobic bacteria. Freezing beans before storage may actually create a healthier environment for anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to multiply. Bacteria like botulism thrive in a high moisture, low oxygen environment, and vice versa for the aerobic bacteria.
Repackage Beans Don’t Freeze Them
Leave dry beans in-store packaging, and you will get a maximum shelf-life of 1 to 5 years. Maybe this is good enough for you, but it won’t keep bug eggs from hatching, moths, or weevils from moving in.
If you are prepping or interested in a survival pantry, you want the 30-year shelf-life, so repackaging is a must.
For dry bean, storage use an 18″ x 24″ Food-grade Mylar bag, pour the black beans into the bag, drop a 2000 CC Oxygen Absorber in the bag, seal the bag with a household iron, mark the package date and beans on the bag, and you are done. Let’s say it took you 20 minutes.
Don’t Freeze Your Dry Beans: Store Them In Food Bags and Buckets
The perfect Trifecta for dry bean storage: Mylar Bag, Food Grade Bucket with a lid and a 2000 cc oxygen absorber.
Mylar bags provide a superior oxygen barrier, and they are not permeable to air or moisture, better than any DIY container other than maybe #10 cans but these aren’t available to everyone.
The Downside, Mylar bags are delicate. Rodents can chew through them, and if you move them around, they can rip or get pin-holing.
Buckets are tough, act as armor for your Mylar bags, are stackable, and easy to organize. Rodents don’t usually chew through buckets
The Downside to just using buckets is that they are permeable to air and lid seals are spotty.
Oxygen absorbers and an airtight container are a must for long-term dry bean storage. If you have weevil eggs in your beans and you just put it in a bucket, there is a good chance you will come back a couple of years later to find a squirming mess of crawlies.
Ok, people have been freezing beans for years before they store them for long-term storage, but it’s not the best method, not even close.
Imagine freezing 250 lbs of dry beans before storing in 5-gallon buckets. Why? Freezer space is limited, and it takes a ridiculous amount of time to get done what you could do in minutes. If you are storing minimal amounts of beans, it might be worth it if you want to save some money, but for long-term bulk storage of dry foods, it’s not practical and is poses possible challenges by creating higher moisture content.
At one point in history, freezing was pretty much the only DIY option you had, but Oxygen Absorbers and Mylar bags changed the food storage game. If you plan on repackaging why not use Mylar bags and buckets with an oxygen absorber. Freezing is then an unnecessary step.
Food Packaging, Edited by Takashi Kadoya, page 230, II B., Google Scholar