Do Dried Beans Go Bad?

There’s a bag of dried beans sitting in the pantry for quite some time already. You meant to use the beans a long time ago, but something else always came up. Now you’re ready, so the only question that remains is this: do dried beans go bad?

Or maybe beans are a staple in your menu, and you found out that this weekend there will be an awesome bean sale in your supermarket. And you obviously want to make the most out of that sale. Therefore, you’re searching for the best way of storing beans long term and for how long precisely they retain freshness.

Either way, if you’re looking for information about dried beans, you’re in the right place. In this article, we talk about storage, shelf life, and going bad of all kinds of dried beans. Let’s dive in.

Image used under Creative Commons from dominik18s

How To Store Dried Beans

So there are quite a few varieties of dried beans. There are the more popular ones, like white beans, black beans, and kidney beans, but there are also the less popular ones like navy beans or chickpeas. Fortunately enough, the storage guidelines for all of them are pretty much the same.

Dried beans have gone through a lengthy drying process so much of the moisture within the beans has been removed. Thanks to that, the beans are shelf-stable and retain good quality for a very long time.

In terms of storage, they don’t really need that much. Like other dried products, such as dry lentils or dried pasta, you only need to remember to keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place. A dark cupboard in the kitchen or pantry works great for that purpose.

Dried red beans on a plate
(credit: cookbookman17)

Dried beans in most cases are sold in bulk. Generally, you can leave them as-is in the plastic bag, especially if you expect to use them within a few months, up to maybe a year. For long-term storage, an airtight container or a freezer bag will be a better option.

If you go with the freezer bag, remember to squeeze out all the air before fastening the bag. A bag or container that’s sealed tight has the added bonus of protecting the beans from pantry bugs and any moisture.

Both options are better than the plastic bag because they limit air access to the beans, and oxygen can lead to rancidity in bean oils. For some bonus points, you can put an oxygen absorber to the bag or container, or vacuum-seal it. But that makes sense only if you plan on storing the beans for like 5+ years.

Image used under Creative Commons from cookbookman17

How Long Do Dried Beans Last

Properly stored dried beans will keep virtually indefinitely in the pantry. But that doesn’t mean they will be tasty and retain the nutritional value for that long.

In short, for best quality, you should consume the dried beans within 2 to 3 years of drying. After that period, the vitamins in the beans degrade and after about 5 years most of them are gone.

Dried beans2 – 3 years
Dried beans and spices in socks
(credit: v2osk)

Please note the period above is for the best quality and nutritional value. If stored properly, dried beans should last years more.

How to Tell If Dried Beans Have Gone Bad

Right now you know that dried beans are at the peak of their quality for about 2 to 3 years. Later on, the vitamin content degrades, and after about 5 years most of the vitamins are gone. So if you’re concerned about getting the most of the beans in terms of nutrition, toss them out after storing them for 3 years.

If you’re not as concerned about the nutrients, here’s what you should look out for. First of all, pantry bugs. If you can find any weevils in the bag or container, toss it out. Finding any signs of mold is the second thing. If that’s the case, discard the beans. Last but not least, rancid, sour, or off (in any other way) odor is a sure sign the beans are past their prime.

Last but not least, please note that beans fading in color is a natural reaction to light. In other words, the loss of color doesn’t mean this food product is spoiled by any means.