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How to store dried beans

Todd, NC

With prices rising,, and things looking so dismal right now I am thinking of stocking my basement/root cellar with emergency food.
Anyone have any ideas on how to stock a large amount of dried beans? Do you think they would keep in a large plastic garbage can?

Louisville, KY

Considering the uncertainty of the food sources these days, I think it prudent to consider storage of some surplus items. I hope these links will be helpful in your decision making and planning.

Bean Basics Part 1 & 2
Storage and Soaking

Storage Ideas for Basic Food Stores

Fountain, FL(Zone 8b)

I have a large amount of dried beans stored but they are small bags, not loose beans that would need a garbage can size container. I'd be afraid something like a garbage can wouldn't seal well enough and you need to make certain anything you use is safe for food storage.
Restaraunts throw out the empty pickle, pepper and other jugs all the time. I have my beans (and other stuff) stored in plastic pickle jugs. The lids screw on and so the jugs are air tight. I've been using these jugs for years. They stack on top of one another in the back of my lower cabinets and so are not in the way.
Those are good links, Gary. I saved them to my fav's.

Anza, CA(Zone 8b)

Plastic garbage bags are NOT food grade and may have insecticides in them. Store food in food grade containers only.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I think the concern here is that some plastics can have chemicals or other things that can be dangerous if they are not food grade plastics. These things can be absorbed by the food. Many things are made from recycled materials and therefore the quality may not be acceptable for food use. Also I don't think a large garbage can would seal tightly enough and air would ruin any foods being stored. I would recommend smaller containers. And a variety of beans, and other foods, not just one kind.

Also the containers would have to seal tight enough to keep bugs out.

Olympia, WA

The larger problem will be the bugs that are already IN the beans and will eventually hatch out. I put this link in another thread, but it bears repeating here ......

These pests come to us when we buy the product. If we consume it before the bugs hatch out, we are none the wiser. However, when we store large quantities - eventually they will hatch. Be sure to look at the foods listed under each of the photos.

Glass storage ensures that the bugs which WILL hatch won't travel throughout your pantry or food storage area contaminating other foods.

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

You can freeze foods for a few days before storing in containers. This kills the eggs so they wont hatch. At least that is what I have been told. I think they have to be frozen at a certain temp. For instance 32 is freezing, but that may not be enough to kill the eggs. There is a certain temp, but I'm not sure what it is. And a certain number of days. Of course after removing them from the freezer they still could be RE infested.
Sometimes my freezer gets full so I have to pull things out. Flour, beans, cake mixes ect are the first to go. I have never had trouble with bugs though.

Olympia, WA

I agree about freezing, but it doesn't cover everything. Glad you have never had a problem w/ bugs, FrillyLily - it is just amazing the number of foods that can be infected. My high school biology students used to get bonus points for finding and bringing in infested foods. We kept a "Rogues Gallery" of products (under glass) in the classroom. The worst was finding the larvae in the almonds in the choc. candy bars. Of course, what kind of normal person lets a chocolate almond candy bar sit around uneaten long enough for the weevil larvae to hatch?

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I suppose under the right conditions, they could hatch fairly quickly?
You have to keep in mind also that some food can be 'in date' for quite some time. Even then if it isn't stored right, it may not last that length of time. OTOH some foods can last way past the dates if stored right.

Olympia, WA

Frilly - I think it is mainly the inherited behaviors of the critters. We can slow it down w/ freezing or refrigeration - but I don't know if there is much that we do that speeds it up. However long it has been since the grain or other susceptible product has been harvested, been in the warehouse, made into food, shipped to the grocer, purchased by us, and stored on our shelves is most like the greatest factor.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

A company called Walton Feed specializes in long term storage. They offer many kinds of organic foods and the expertise/equipment for secure, safe maintenance. I don't buy from them simply because their minimum sizes are just too large for one person. But perusing their site can show us some good methods.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

amaliayosa, what kind of quantities (per kind) are you considering? I have a few that I bought in 25# bags; those went into food grade pails with screw-on lids... In those, I put a pound or two of dry ice in the bottom and dumped the beans, rice, etc. on top. Leave the lid somewhat loose for a couple of days then tighten when the dry ice has gassed out. When you use some food out of the pail, just don't tip the pail and spill out the gas which is heavier than air and will remain in the bucket.

This is a good source for a 2 piece lid that converts a food bucket to a screw-on tight lid.

If just storing smaller quantities of each, go into Boone to Earth Fare and buy organics if you can... they tend to be cleaner although not necessarily insect free. (You can order large bags of beans and rice from them, too.) Put the dry foods in the freezer a few days, and then transfer to half-gallon canning jars. I must have 30-40 half-gallon jars with dry goods in them, plus many quart jars. The nice thing for me is they won't be hurt by freezing so I can store them in the shed.

I used to live in Todd.

Tamworth, NH(Zone 4b)

Does anyone know of guidelines that would give an idea of how much of any given food would be required per person per year?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a),11666,7498-1-4070-1,00.html

LDS has much useful food storage info...

Russell, KY(Zone 6b)

They're certainly not inexpensive, but the "Vittle Vault" line of pet food storage containers is air tight and made of food grade plastic. I have several in use for human foods- if you ever see one in a yard sale, snag it!!

Thumbnail by Cearbhaill
Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Weighing in here. I would probably add food-grade diatomaceous earth to dried beans if there was any concern about existing pests. This kills them by breaking down their exoskeleton but should not affect the beans or us. Food grade, not the pool stuff.

West Warren, MA

Brought back memories of rice that I bought and was infested with weevils!!!
I was real upset ! Told the store and wrote the manufaturer a letter!!
Good luck with storage, still better to use up before we have an infestation problem.

Olympia, WA

The critters come with the product - be it rice, beans, or whatever. You CAN put them in bug proof containers, but that will just keep the bugs from spreading OUTWARD. You already have them, you bought the bugs - an extra bonus. Think about it!!!!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yes, but just because you bought the bugs, doesn't mean you have to keep them! If I am diligent about de-bugging, dry goods don't get infested. For me, de-bugging happens in 2 ways: I freeze small batches of stuff for 3-4 days before storing... AND/OR I place dry goods in food-grade containers with dry ice in the bottom. The dry ice "melts" and the heavier-than-air gas (carbon dioxide) creates an atmosphere where bugs cannot live. As long as you don't tip the bucket, the CO2 remains in the bucket even if you reach in and scoop out some rice, beans, pasta, or whatever you have stored. Eventually you will reach the bottom of the bucket, and just start the process again with new food and dry ice.

West Warren, MA

It all sounds like good ideas!
Will use dried beans as soon as possible...

Olympia, WA

Kewl bug free beans, Darius!!!! New to my eyes ........the dry ice part!!!!!!!!

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

In my vegetable garden this year I was planning on growing several kinds of beans. Would I have to worry about weevils in beans I dry myself (not that I even know how to dry my own beans - yet)!

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Boy, I must have gotten an old bag of dried pinto beans. I did all the soaking and cooking like I normally do, but they were just gross. The whole pot ended up in the compost heap. Luckily they were going into other dishes so I didn't waste veggies or spices.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

My experience with some really old beans is that cooking takes longer. So, I soak, rinse, then soak and rinse again, soak a third time and then cook on a lower heat. Each time I soak, I bring the beans to just under a boil, remove heat, cover and cool at least 2-3 hours before draining and re-soaking.

I had some dried yellow split peas once that never became edible, even after 2-3 rigorous soak/rinse cycles. My dried garbanzos take extra soaking, too.

Since I keep some quantities of beans on hand for long-term emergencies, I figure old beans will be better than nothing, and if necessary they can even be ground up like flour.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Hmmm....grinding like flour - intriguing idea. I would think cooking the result like mush would go quickly, and maybe combined with a cereal could comprise a new breakfast dish.

I've just received a gift of a box of muffin mix in which the flour consists of mesquite beans ground together with the pods. What astonished me was I've not realized they are edible. The two mesquite trees on my lot produce enormous quantities of beans and I've just been dumping them in the compost all these years.


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yuska, bean flours are great as thickening agents for soups and stews, and I've thrown in a small handful in breads too. (Beans when combined with grains form a complete protein.) Bean flours are gluten-free. Bean flours can be used for a quick bean dip and garbanzo bean flours are widely used in Middle Eastern recipes.

Naples, FL(Zone 10a)

(eating cuban black bean soup with rice as we speak) YUM!!

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