Long Term Food Storage is important for many reasons including emergency food sources and even for saving money but how long can dried beans really be saved?
Adzuki, Black, Black-eyed, Black Turtle, Garbanzo, Great Northern, Kidney, Lentils, Lima, Mung, Navy, Pink, Pinto, Small Red, Soy, and Split-pea can all be dried and stored.
A recent study has shown that Dried Beans can be stored for 30 years. This was the length of the study and it is possible that they could survive as a good source of food for much longer.
Normally beans are distributed in a polyethylene type bag which is good for storing for about a year. If you want to extend the life of the stored beans you need to use a Mylar plastic or can which has the air removed from it.
The main culprit in causing rancidity of beans is Oxygen. Whatever storage container you choose must have the air removed. Sunlight is another problem and you will want to store your beans in a dark, cool area.
Temperatures can also contribute to shortening the life of your beans. The cooler the conditions the better.
In an average condition beans stored in Mylar or Cans with the air removed have an 80% acceptance rate.
An Oxygen Absorber or replacement gas can be used to store beans in air tight vacuum containers. Out-gassing of the bean may occur over time.
Moisture in the bean is a factor for dehydration. The longer the beans are stored the more moisture will be lost. Even in a dried bean the small amount of moisture keeps the bean soft enough to reabsorb water.
All beans except lentils and split peas require overnight re-hydration.
One cup of beans and 3 cups of water are allowed to sit overnight. The quick method of bringing the beans to a boil then letting them sit should not be used because the heat will activate bacteria and the prolonged sitting will allow it to grow.
After the beans have soaked overnight they must be cooked to remove an enzyme that inhibits digestion.
Beans are 22% protein by weight and they are the best source of food because they contain all necessary amino acids except one methionine that can be found in rice, corn or meat. They are also high in carbohydrates and minerals to provide energy and supplemental nutrition.
Beans can also be sprouted to provide a green vegetable for salads or other uses.
Vitamin loss over the prolonged storage study could not be found so if the beans are not rancid they will be nutritious. This is different then other foods stored for a prolonged period where Vitamin loss usually occurs within 3 years.
Once the beans have passed the ability to be re-hydrated then you can grind them into a flour.
Beans are great in their fresh state but if you store them properly by removing the air and placing them in a cool dry place you can extend their life almost indefinitely.
They are also extremely high in protein and other supplements to provide almost a complete diet. Rice can also be stored for an extended period and has been found to last hundreds and even thousands of years in Egypt and other archeological areas. Although after that length of time its nutritional value can not be counted on.
For these reasons beans are the best food source that you can purchase.