How Long are Dried Beans Good For?

The Shelf Life of Dried Beans

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Dried Beans. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Question: How Long are Dried Beans Good For?

Answer:

It's best to use dried beans within a year. Older beans can still be cooked and eaten, but expect cooking times to be longer. If you know your beans have been sitting in the pantry for a long time, add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to either the soak water or the cooking water for every pound of beans that you’re preparing . The baking soda will help to soften up the beans.

But, only add baking soda to the pot when you think you need it because it will rob the beans of some of their nutrients.

Wait to add any salt or acidic foods, like tomatoes, to your bean pot until after the beans have been cooked. These ingredients will harden the beans, causing them to take even longer to cook. That’s an annoyance, if you’re cooking fresh beans, but with older beans, it could mean the difference between getting them to soften and not.

And don’t skimp on the soak time. The U.S. Dry Bean Council recommends allowing beans to soak for a full 12 hours before cooking them. That may sound like a lot of time, but it’s easy enough to accomplish by setting a pot of beans to soak before you go to bed.

Eventually dried beans will become so dry that they will not soften – even when you do all the things outlined here. If you have beans that have gotten to that point, they can be used as pie weights, thrown onto your compost pile or donated to a school or daycare as a craft supply.

Store Your Beans Properly

Keep your dried beans in an air-tight container, in a cool dry space, so they don’t deteriorate pre-maturely. This will keep them from drying out or taking on moisture from their surroundings, both of which can negatively affect their quality.

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