Home | Food Storage | How to Store Beans

How to Store Beans

In this article, we’ll tackle a seemingly simple yet significant part of our everyday life: the proper storage of beans.

Whether you’re an avid bean consumer or simply enjoy them occasionally, the way you store beans can greatly influence their taste, texture, and overall quality.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a firm grasp of the best practices for storing both canned and dry beans, ensuring you make the most of these versatile legumes every time you cook.

White bowl with canned red kidney beans.

To properly store beans, keep dry beans in a cool, dry, dark place in airtight containers for 1-2 years. Canned beans should be stored in a cool, dry place and consumed by the expiration date. Once opened, transfer any unused beans to a non-metallic airtight container, refrigerate, and consume within 3-4 days.

Understanding Your Beans

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of bean storage, it’s important to understand the two main types of beans you’re likely to encounter: canned beans and dry beans. And while we’re on the topic of canned foods, you may also want to check out our post on how to tell if canned goods have gone bad.

Canned Beans

Canned beans are fully cooked, making them a convenient and quick option for meals. They’re generally stored in a liquid (often salted water) to help maintain their freshness.

Dry Beans

On the other hand, dry beans are just that – dry! They need to be soaked and cooked before you can use them in your favorite recipes, but the tradeoff is a longer shelf life and often a lower cost compared to canned beans.

Here is a recipe for one pot kidney beans you might want to try.

How to Store Canned Beans

Just like beans, there are specific techniques to store other legumes. For instance, we’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to store lentils, which you might find helpful.

When it comes to storing canned beans, there are a few simple steps you can follow:

  1. Keep them in a cool, dry place: This could be your pantry, a cupboard, or even a basement. The key is to avoid heat and moisture which can degrade the can and its contents.
  2. Keep them in their original cans until ready to use: Once a can is opened, its contents need to be consumed or transferred to a different container.
  3. Consume within the expiration date: While canned goods can often last past their expiration date, it’s best to use them by this date to ensure the best taste and safety.

After Opening the Can

Once you’ve opened a can of beans, the clock starts ticking. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Transfer any unused beans to a non-metallic, airtight container.
  • Add a little of the liquid from the can or some fresh water to the container to keep the beans moist.
  • Store in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.

How to Store Dry Beans

Storing dry beans is a different process from canned beans, but equally straightforward. But did you know green beans also require a unique storage method? For tips on that, check out our post on how to store green beans.

  1. Keep them in a cool, dry, dark place: Like canned beans, dry beans prefer a stable environment away from heat, moisture, and light.
  2. Use airtight containers: Dry beans keep best when air exposure is minimized. Opt for glass or plastic containers with tight-sealing lids.
  3. Rotate your stock: It’s a good idea to use older beans first. Keep them rotated so you’re always using the oldest beans in your pantry.

Shelf Life of Dry Beans

Dry beans have a long shelf life, but it doesn’t mean they’ll taste great forever. Over time, they’ll slowly lose flavor and may take longer to cook. As a rule of thumb, aim to use dry beans within a year or two for optimal taste.

Comparing Storage Methods

Here’s a simple table to help you compare the storage methods for canned and dry beans:

StorageCanned BeansDry Beans
Initial StorageStore unopened cans in a cool, dry placeStore in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place
After Opening/PreparationTransfer to a non-metallic airtight container, refrigerate, and use within 3-4 daysCook only the amount needed, and use within 2-3 days
LongevityCheck expiration dateBest used within 1-2 years for optimal taste

How To Tell If Beans Are Bad

Telling if beans have gone bad can be as simple as using your senses of sight, smell, and taste. Let’s break it down by type:

Canned Beans

  1. Appearance: If the can be bulging, rusted, or damaged, it’s best not to risk it. Once opened, if the beans are discolored, slimy, or have mold growth, they are not safe to consume.
  2. Smell: Spoiled canned beans often have an off or sour smell.
  3. Taste: If you’ve checked the appearance and smell, and still aren’t sure, you can taste a small amount. If the flavor is off or unpleasant, discard the beans.

Dry Beans

  1. Appearance: Check for visible mold or insects. Both are signs of contamination and mean the beans should be discarded.
  2. Smell: Dry beans shouldn’t have a strong smell. If you notice a musty or off smell, it could mean the beans have been exposed to moisture and may have spoiled.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s always safer to throw out the beans than risk food poisoning.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Store Beans

While canned goods often last beyond their expiration date, it’s best to use them by this date to ensure the best taste and safety.

No, dry beans should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, but not in the refrigerator. Exposure to moisture can lead to spoilage.

Yes, you can freeze cooked beans. Make sure to freeze them in their cooking liquid in a freezer-safe container or bag. They can be frozen for up to 6 months.


Beans are a fantastic, nutritious addition to your diet, and with these simple storage techniques, you can always have them ready at hand, fresh and tasty.

Remember, the key to successful storage is to keep them in a cool, dry environment and use them in a timely manner.

Online Cooking for Beginners Course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *