How Long Do Dried Beans “last”?

My concept of “spoiled” food is simple: As long as it doesn’t smell weird, feel stickier than it should, or has mold growing on it, that’s probably okay! But some foods, like flour or dried beans, are a little more complicated. Dried beans never get so “bad” that they cause a lot of physical stress, although they can make you gas, regardless of their age, which can be frustrating.

The more recently the beans have been dried, the more creamy they will be and the faster they will get to them. According to the geniuses at Rancho Gordo , the definition of “fresh” is very lenient:

Heirloom and hereditary varieties do not need much fuss if they are used fresh, which I would define as within two years.

Two years, which the FDA also recommends for storing beans, is enough time to use a bag of beans. If your beans are not a heirloom and you don’t know when they were dried, I would shorten that freshness window to one year for the tastiest beans.

Storing them in a dark, dry, cool place will extend their life, so moving them from your bag to an airtight container is always a good step. If you hardly remember how long ago you bought a bag of beans – and I know you do – just write the date on the bag (or the container you move them into).

If you happen to find a container of beans you forgot about, you can always try and cook them, even if you suspect they are over a couple of years old. Give them a good second and make sure they are not moldy, glitchy, or smelly (and throw them away if any). After making sure the beans are free of insects, you can cook them. You may need to cook a lot more of them.

Overnight soaking , pressure cooking , extra boiling, and baking soda can all help soften beans that are too tough, and soaking is a good way to get rid of the stubborn tough guys – if any kind is shriveled after a long soak, throw them away.

If you don’t feel like having to deal with all of these, you can always use them as a cake scale. Pie season is fast approaching and you should never be too prepared for pie season.


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