Knowing how to store beans long-term is essential because proper storage methods can increase shelf life by decades. Dry beans are one of the top emergency foods for storage because they are shelf-stable, non-perishable, and packed with protein and nutrition.
The best way to store dry beans long-term is storage in a cool, dry location inside an oxygen-free container. The best storage containers are sealed #10 cans or Mylar bags with the correct number and size (s) of oxygen absorber(s) placed inside the container before sealing. Beans will keep up to 30 years stored this way.
Freezing or refrigerating beans prolongs shelf life and kills bugs. Still, it isn’t an excellent storage option for bulk beans because of limited freezer space, electricity requirements, and increases in moisture content.
Insider Information: Head over to the LDS online store for the lowest prices I have found for emergency food in #10 cans. Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints: Online Store I’m not LDS, but I have purchased several orders.
How To Store Beans: 11 Steps
Step #1: Line A 5-gallon Bucket with a Mylar Bag
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 3000, that’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.
Packaging beans in Mylar bags is a simple process, but if you forget to put oxygen absorbers in the Mylar bag before sealing it, you will have to unseal the pack and start over.
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. Once it is 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, setting the linen setting, the hottest setting on my iron. You may have different settings, so go for the highest or hottest.
Be careful where you place the iron when you plug it in, and make sure 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.
Writing the food and date in several places may be overkill but doing this 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 has removed all the oxygen it will remove. 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 at 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. Looking 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.
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 into the bucket unless you are much better at planning than I am.
Use the same method to seal the one-gallon bags used to seal the 18″x28″ Mylar bags.
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.
Long-Term Storage Containers For Beans
|Long-Term Storage Containers||Pros||Cons|
|#10 Cans with food-safe enamel lining||-Not easily damaged|
-Easily keep a seal
–The best way to store beans for long-term storage.
-Keeps light off of beans
-30+ year storage life for most dry beans
|-Normally purchased for an extra expense|
-The equipment required to do your cans is cost-prohibitive.
|Mylar-type Bags|| |
-Good for small quantities of beans
|-Need to be vacuum sealed|
-Manufacturing quality is spotty
-Bags are easily damaged
-Best used in food-grade buckets for an extra expense
-Not Rodent Proof
|Mason Jars||Inexpensive, rodent-proof,|
The best budget option.
|-Break easily, |
-The glass allows in light, which may quicken oxidation (cover or store in a dark room)
-Need to be vacuum pumped for an airtight seal
-Require Oxygen absorbers
|Food-grade Buckets||-Good for bulk storage||-Large quantity of food exposed to elements once the container is opened|
-Lose airtight seal more often than other methods (lids fail)
-Plastic is not an actual oxygen barrier
-Require Oxygen absorber
|Mylar-type bags and Food-grade Buckets||-Bags keep an airtight seal protecting rice from moisture and oxygen|
-Buckets keep Mylar-type bags from being physically damaged
|-More expensive to purchase both food grade buckets and Mylar-type bags|
-Large quantity of beans exposed to the air when the container is opened unless you package it in small bags
-Require oxygen absorber
|Mylar Bags And A Large Lidded Plastic Container||-Bags keep an airtight seal protecting rice from moisture and oxygen|
-Bins keep Mylar-type bags from being physically damaged
|-Similar to using buckets |
-Bins will hold more of the small Mylar bags, so less food is exposed when opened
Short-Term Bean Storage
Store dry beans short-term by repackaging them into an airtight container with a lid and placing them in a dark pantry that remains cool and dry. Beans stored in an airtight container will stay good for one to two years before they get tough, become discolored, and lose nutrition.
Insider Information: Tough beans can be softened by adding baking soda to the cooking water, or they can be ground into flour and used as a thickening agent for soups and stew.
Top Storage Containers For Short-Term Bean Storage
Use these containers to store beans in the pantry for one year. Avoid storing dry beans in the plastic bags they come in because they are ineffective at protecting beans.
Oxo Pop Container
These are my favorite storage containers for dry staples. My family uses them regularly, from dry beans to rice, flour, and sugar. My wife loves them. Oxos are flood and ant-proof.
Oxo containers are clear, so you’ll want to store them in a dark pantry. The lid fits inside the container and has a big round button on top that pushes air out of the container when you press it down.
Check out my Amazon affiliate link to take a look at OXO Containers
Prepworks Airtight Storage Container
I have not used Prepworks containers, but they get good reviews. “They wash, seal and stack well.” Choose this option if you need your bean container to be dishwasher safe because the OXOs aren’t.
Follow my affiliate link to look at the Prepworks Airtight Storage Containers.
What Happens To Beans When They Get Old
As beans age, they get tough, and lose color, flavor, and nutritional value. Proper packaging and storage environment increases shelf life by years. Packaging, storage environment, and removing oxygen from the container affect bean shelf-life.
Prime Storage Conditions For Beans
Store beans in a cool, dry location, protect them from light and oxygen using Mylar bags or a #10 can, and remove oxygen from the container. This storage environment will keep bean oil from oxidizing and beans from getting tough. Oxygen-free storage will also kill bugs, eggs, and pupae that may be present in your beans.
It takes an oxygen-free environment of 1% or less about two weeks to kill bugs present in dry goods like beans
According to a study conducted by Brigham Youn University, beans samples stored for thirty years had greater than 80 percent
acceptance rate by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.
How Long Do Dry Beans Last?
If storage conditions are ideal: cool, dry, and oxygen-free beans will store for up to 30 years in Mylar bags or #10 cans treated with oxygen absorbers.
Beans stored in an airtight container have a shelf life of one to three years if stored in an airtight container and are protected from light oxidation by storage in a dark pantry.
How Many Pounds of Beans To Store?
Store 60 lbs of beans per person for a year’s supply. Most of the LDS literature suggests you store 400 pounds of dry staples per person per year, including white rice, wheat berries, rolled oat, and beans.
The suggested sixty pounds of beans can be “legumes,” so you can store lentils and split peas to meet this storage requirement.
Can I Leave Beans in Plastic when storing them in Mylar?
Avoid leaving beans in plastic bags when using Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. This may reduce the effectiveness of the absorber’s oxygen-scrubbing abilities.
Different types of beans can be stored together but in general, avoid storing various kinds of food in the same sealed container. There may be adverse reactions affecting the quality taste of dry staples.
It might be tempting but avoid storing polished white rice and beans together in the same container.
Beans To Store In Long-Term Storage
Here is a list of 17 Beans you can store long or short-term. Most of my beans are pinto or black beans because they are the beans I can find in bulk at my location.
Soybeans have the best nutritional profile of any bean but have the shortest shelf life. If you want soybeans as emergency food, I suggest buying them in small quantities and testing them. They aren’t the kind of bean you use in chili.
|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 (not a bean)||Up to 30 Years|
|Lima Bean||Up to 30 Years|
|Pink Bean (related to the kidney bean)||Up to 30 Years|
|Garbanzo/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|
How Many Oxygen Absorbers Do I Need: Dry Beans
|Mylar Bag Sizes||CC Absorption For Beans|
|20″x30″ for lining a 5 and 6 Gallon Bucket(s)||2500 to 3000|
|18″x28″ for lining 5 and 6 Gallon Bucket(s)||2500 to 3000|
|14″x20″ (2 gal)||1500 to 2000|
|14″x18″x6″ (2 gal)||1500 to 2000|
|12″x18″ (1.5 gal)||1200|
|12″x16″x6″ (1.5 gal)||1200|
|10″x14″ (1 gal)||400|
|8″x12″ (1/2 gal)||400|
|6″x10″ (1/4 gal)||200|
|6″x8″ (1/4 gal)||200|
How Long Can You Store Beans
Beans stored in regular airtight containers will keep optimum quality for about a year. You can eat them longer than that, but they will be tough with fewer nutrients.
Beans packaged in an oxygen-free container(s) and kept in a cool, dry environment will maintain satisfactory eating quality for up to 30 years.
Do not freeze beans for long-term storage
Try to avoid moisture when storing dry foods for long-term storage. Freezing beans and other dry staples cause condensation during the thawing process. Moisture content higher than 10% moisture can lead to botulism and food poisoning in oxygen-free storage.
How do you store beans in bulk?
The best method of storing beans in bulk is using the trifecta of the food-grade bucket, Mylar bag, and oxygen absorber. Store in a cool, dry environment, and beans will store for up to thirty years using this packaging method.
Can I freeze beans to store them long-term?
Beans will last indefinitely when frozen. I wouldn’t have a problem storing a small number of beans by freezing them, but I wouldn’t keep bulk emergency beans this way. If the power goes out, so does your storage method, and defrosting beans will increase moisture content. Not the best storage method if the power goes out.
How to keep beans weevil free
Place beans in a truly airtight container, such as a ball jar or Mylar bag (both offer an actual oxygen barrier), and drop in enough oxygen treatment for an airtight container. To determine the cubic centimeters of oxygen absorption needed for a specific container size, read the Ready Squirrel article, Mylar Bags For Food Storage: Beginner’s Guide.
To learn why you don’t want to freeze beans for long-term storage, read the Ready Squirrel article, Should You Freeze Beans Before Long Term Storage
Learn more about top survival food. Check out Ready Squirrel’s article, Best Emergency Food: Cheap to Expensive.