Beans are cheap, tasty, and store beautifully. Indeed, you can use dried beans for up to a year or more, so it's worth your time—and will help your budget—to learn how to properly store them. Follow these tips to successfully store dried beans in your pantry or stockpile. The process is easy and takes just five minutes.
Storing the Beans
Follow these simple steps to properly store your dried beans.
- Transfer your dried beans to a food-safe storage container with a tight sealing lid. If you leave them in the bag they came in, they'll dry out faster.
- Remove any broken beans or rocks that you notice.
- Place the container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
For best results, as noted, use your beans within a year. They'll still be safe to eat after a year, but they dry out over time and could take longer to soak and cook. If your beans are more than a year old, don't be too quick to toss them. Some studies have found dried beans can be stored for up to 30 years.
If your beans have been sitting in the pantry for a while, the US Dry Bean Council recommends adding 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the pot for every pound of beans when you cook them. This will help to soften them up. It's well worth taking the time to learn how to preserve your dried beans, says the trade group, because this food can help you manage your sugar levels, increase energy, and even help prevent certain cancers.
Buy dried beans out of the bulk bins. They'll usually be cheaper than the bagged beans, and you can buy just what you need. A heaping half-cup of dried beans is the equivalent of one 15-ounce can of store-bought beans, and 1 pound of dried beans will yield about six cups of cooked beans (or four cans of beans). Dry bean math is pretty simple to learn if you just follow a few basic rules.
Cooking Dried Beans
If you've never cooked dried beans before, it's just about as easy to cook dried beans as to store them. If you're in a hurry, there's even a trick or two that you can use to speed up the cooking process.
It's best to cook my dried beans in big batches. Then, divide them up between pint-sized freezer jars, and store them in the freezer. This will give you the convenience of store-bought canned beans without the cost or all the added sodium. Whenever you need a can of beans, just pull out one of your jars and thaw it in the microwave, or if you have time, let it thaw overnight in the fridge.
Many recipes call for beans. For example, there are dozens of recipes specifically for cooking dried beans in a slow cooker. The US Dry Bean Council even offers tips for cooking dried beans. Or, use them to add more meatless meals to your dinner rotation, and save big.