Dried beans are an excellent pantry staple thanks to their versatility and long shelf life. When you’re at a loss for what to make for dinner, dried beans are there, sitting at the back of your cupboard, ready to offer you a healthy and comforting meal. But just how long do dried beans last?
Do dried beans go bad? While dried beans do last a long time, they don’t last quite as long as some people believe, and a bag that has been in your pantry a year or two will differ greatly from on that you bought a decade ago.
While they do have an impressive shelf life, dried beans will begin to lose quality and nutritional value after a few years. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about storing dried beans and how to know when you need to buy a new bag.
Table of Contents
- Can Dried Beans Go Bad?
- How to Store Dried Beans?
- Can You Freeze Dried Beans?
- How Long Do Dried Beans Last?
- How Can You Tell If Dried Beans Have Gone Bad?
- Is It OK to Consume Old Dried Beans?
- What Is the Best Way to Prepare Dried Beans?
- Are Dried Beans Better Than Canned Beans?
- What Nutritional Benefits Do Beans Offer?
Contrary to the belief that dried beans last a lifetime, they actually can eventually go bad. While it is not common for dried beans to spoil, it is certainly possible in the case of improper storage. If your beans have been exposed to moisture, it is possible for mold to grow on them.
Additionally, if pantry bugs like weevils have infested your bean stock, you will definitely have to throw them away. Beans that give off a strange odor are also likely spoiled.
So while dried beans do last quite a long time, it is possible for them to go bad. At any rate, beans won’t have the same taste, quality, or nutritional value after a couple of years as they do when you first buy them. More on that later.
Storing dried beans is really quite simple. To begin, you’ll want to make sure that the beans are stored in an airtight container. That means that if you have opened a bag and are going to store the beans that you haven’t used, you should transfer them to a sealable container. This will prevent air from getting in, which could potentially introduce moisture or dry them out, depending on the humidity and climate conditions.
Dried beans should always be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Additionally, consider separating different types of beans when storing if you have a variety of bags open. This will ensure that if just one type has gone bad it won’t spoil the rest of the bunch.
Believe it or not, dried beans can in fact be frozen. Storing dried beans in the freezer protects them from heat, light, bugs, and unwanted moisture, all things that can cause them to go bad. When properly stored, keeping your dried beans in the freezer could help them to last practically indefinitely.
If you are going to store beans in the freezer, be sure to keep them in an airtight freezer bag. Additionally, try to remove them from the freezer, for example if you are making space for other items, as little as possible. This will help prevent moisture from forming in the bag.
To use dried beans that you have frozen, simply allow them to come to room temperature before cooking and use them just as you would use any dried beans.
Dried beans have quite a long shelf life, especially when properly stored. When stored in a cool, dark, dry place in an airtight container, dried beans will last 2-3 years after their harvest date without losing any flavor, though it is recommended that you consume them within a year to maximize quality.
After 2-3 years, dried beans will begin to lose some of their flavor and nutritional value, and it is estimated that after 5 years, most of their naturally occurring vitamins and minerals will have disappeared.
Dried beans will last even longer if you choose to store them in the freezer, but make sure that they don’t experience any rapid changes in temperature or freezer burn if you want to maximize their quality and flavor.
If you store your beans properly and consume them within the recommended time frame, your dried beans probably won’t spoil. However, there are a few things that you should keep an eye out for to check if they have gone bad.
First off, be wary of pantry bugs, like weevils. Before cooking, look through the beans and keep an eye out for insects or tiny holes in the beans, which is a sign of an infestation.
Additionally, if your beans have been exposed to any moisture, it is possible that they have begun to grow mold. If the skin of the beans looks strange or you see any dark spots, aside from any obvious traces of mold, you know that they have gone bad.
Finally, if your beans give off a rancid, sour, or otherwise off smell, they have probably spoiled, as these scents could be signs of infestation, mold, or unwanted fermentation.
As long as the old dried beans that you are consuming haven’t been spoiled by mold or pests, you probably won’t get sick if you choose to eat them.
However, you should keep in mind that consuming dried beans that have surpassed their recommended date of consumption will likely have a lower quality and a different flavor from dried beans that are closer to their harvest date.
Finally, the nutritional value of dried beans that are older than 2-3 years old will begin to diminish, meaning that you will be missing out on some of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that so many people value in beans.
Though the process can be somewhat intimidating, preparing dried beans is really quite simple. The best way to prepare dried beans is by first soaking them overnight. Soak your beans the night before you plan on cooking them to maximize texture and flavor.
If you forgot to soak your beans overnight, you also have the option to quick soak them. You can quick soak your beans by placing them in a pot, covering them with water, bringing them to a boil, and letting them set for an hour. Soaking your beans overnight or quick soaking them will reduce their cooking time and improve their texture.
When it comes time to cook your beans, simply cover them with a few inches of lightly salted water in a pot and simmer. Avoid letting your beans come to a boil, as this can cause them to break apart. It will take beans between 1 and 2 hours to cook depending on the type of beans that you are working with and the texture that you are looking for.
Finally, feel free to get creative when cooking your beans. Add in some aromatics like onions, shallots, or garlic, and don’t hold back on the spices. Fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, for example, pair very well with beans.
While they may take longer to prepare, you should try to consume dried beans instead of canned beans whenever possible. Aside from being cheaper than canned beans, dried beans also tend to be healthier.
Canned beans often have a high sodium content, something that is never an issue with dried beans. Additionally, canned beans can contain additives and preservatives, like animal fats, high fructose corn syrup, sugars, and other sweeteners, which increase their calorie count and give them a lower nutritional value than dried beans.
Beans offer a plethora of health benefits, as they are a great source of nutrients. To begin, beans are one of the best sources of plant protein thanks to the fact that they contain amino acids, the protein building blocks that the body relies on to maintain and regenerate tissues, including blood, bones, skin, and muscles.
Beans also contain vital nutrients like folate and are rich in antioxidants. On top of this, studies show that people who consume beans regularly have a lower risk of suffering from diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Finally, beans can help to promote gut health by increasing the number of healthy bacteria in the intestine, which in turn strengthens the immune system and may even promote weight loss.