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How to Store Dried Beans and Rice for Long-Term Storage
Rice and beans are staples in most people’s pantries, which comes as no surprise since they’re highly nutritious and an excellent source of energy. Rice and beans are a fantastic source of carbohydrates and protein, and can have a long shelf life – if you know how to store them properly. These characteristics make rice and beans essential food items to store for an emergency. By learning how to store dried beans and rice for long-term storage, you will be able to ensure a nutritious food supply regardless of the scenario.
How to Store Dried Beans and Rice Long-Term?
To store rice and beans for long periods of time, you’ll need to control their environment to limit exposure to oxygen, heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Exposure to any of these environmental aggressors can cause spoilage and the nutrients to degrade.
Fortunately, you can achieve the above conditions using storage containers and bags. Popular and useful examples of food storage containers include 5-gallon buckets, mason jars, and mylar bags.
Let’s dig deeper into two methods to help you store rice and beans long-term:
Method 1: Store in Food-Grade 5 Gallon Bucket and Mylar Bags
You can either store the rice and beans by pouring them into their own separate buckets or transferring them into smaller mylar bags and then placing the bags into the bucket. Using mylar bags will provide the rice and beans with an extra layer of protection. Here’s how you store it:
Step 1: Know Your Portions
It’s easy to know how much rice and beans you’ll need for a one-year supply so that you don’t end up buying more or less than you actually need.
On average, one person consumes between 25 to 60 pounds of rice and 30 to 60 pounds of legumes per year. That means you’ll need a couple of 5-gallon buckets—each bucket holding around 30 lbs—to store 60lbs of rice and beans per person.
For smaller portions, you can divide them into about ten mylar bags that hold about 6 pounds each.
Insert table doing math for a family of 1-4 adults
Step 2: Skip the Freezing
You might have heard that you should freeze grains and legumes to kill pests before transferring the food into the containers. However, by doing so, you’re introducing moisture to the rice and beans, giving bacteria and mold optimal conditions to grow.
You see, spoilage organisms can’t multiply unless the food has enough water activity, which is basically the amount of water available in food. Fortunately, uncooked rice and beans have a low water activity. That’s why they survive for long without spoiling. However, when you freeze your grains and legumes, you risk increasing moisture and eventually the multiplication of food-spoilage organisms.
Plus, some grain insects and eggs can still survive temperatures lower than 0ºF, so freezing won’t necessarily make the rice bug-free.
If you are concerned about insect eggs in your container, fear not. Using oxygen absorbers in your containers will have a similar effect on insects as a freezer. As the name suggests, the oxygen absorbers will absorb the air in the container, killing any pests inside the container. Below is a table on how many oxygen absorbers you will need, depending on the size of the container.
|CCs Needed||Size of Container|
|100 cc||32 oz Mason Jar|
|300 cc||1 Gallon Container|
|1500 cc||5 gallon Bucket|
Related Article: How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners
Step 3: Prepare the Bucket
Before placing anything in the bucket, first, make sure it’s in perfect condition. Here are a few tips to help maintain the food quality in the large container:
- Only use a food-grade 5-gallon bucket and make sure it’s BPA-free to avoid health risks related to BPA leaching.
- Double-check for any cracks to ensure no contamination occurs.
- Use Gamma Seal Lids for a tight seal, preventing air from reaching the food.
- Wash the bucket with warm water and soap. Then, dry it using a clean towel and let it air dry completely. Alternatively, you can clean the bucket in the dishwasher, but make sure it’s dishwasher-safe.
Step 4: Fill the Mylar Bags
Typically, mylar bag sizes used in food storage range from a single quart to 6 gallons. A 1-quart bag will hold around 3 lbs of grains or legumes, whereas the 1-gallon mylar bag will keep about 6-7 lbs. So, pick the appropriate size depending on your preference.
After choosing the mylar bag sizes, here’s what you need to do:
- Label the bags by writing the date and the food you’re going to put in them.
- Using a measuring cup, start stuffing the bags with the rice or beans.
- Make sure to leave around 5 inches of space so that the bags seal easily.
- Shake the packages to ensure the rice or beans settle well and that there isn’t much air.
- Seal the bags either by using a vacuum sealer or a preheated clothes iron, but don’t seal all the way through in order to leave an opening to put in the oxygen absorbers.
- Add in food-safe oxygen absorbers. Use one or two 300 CC oxygen absorbers per 1-gallon bag.
- Fully seal the remaining part in the mylar bags to prevent the absorber from taking in oxygen from the outside.
- Squeeze the bags to test if any air is leaking.
- Lastly, stack your packages in the bucket and tightly secure the lid.
Step 5: Place in the Appropriate Storage Conditions
To extend the shelf life of rice, you should store the buckets in a dark, cool, and dry place at a temperature of about 40ºF.
Beans can also be stored at 40ºF. However, if you plan on storing them for more than a year, they can lose their oils and become dry.
To maintain dry beans’ oils and nutritional value, it’s better to store them at 70ºF.
Method 2: Store in Mason Jars
Storing beans and rice in mason jars can be useful if you frequently eat them and expect to finish the supply within a short period of time. To store beans and rice in mason jars, here’s what you need to do:
- Wash the jars—preferably in the dishwasher—for sanitization, and then let them dry completely.
- Fill the jars with the dried food, leaving around 1 inch from the rim of the jar, and make sure to shake it.
- Put in 100cc oxygen absorbers for each quart and tightly secure the lid.
- Another option is to use the jar attachment in the vacuum-sealer, and after sealing, screw on the outer band of the lid.
- Lastly, date your jars and store them in a cool, dry place away from any light.
Basic Principles for Storing Beans and Rice
When storing beans and rice, the storage methods that we discuss in this article follow the same basic principles:
- You must transfer your dried beans and rice into a food-safe storage container with a lid or cover that seals shut tightly.
- You must remove any rocks or broken beans you may notice.
- You must place the bean container in a cool and dry place away from sunlight – regardless of which storage method you choose.
Ideal Storage Conditions for Dried Beans and Uncooked Rice
Dried beans and uncooked rice – like most food stored away for the long term – will last longer in colder storage temperatures. Also, it’s important to note that the less humid your storage environment is, the better. Regardless of which container you choose to put your rice and beans in, you’ll want to make sure you place your container in a cool and dry location.
You can identify cool and dry places around your house by looking for areas that rarely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. You’ll also want to make sure that your space is away from direct sunlight. Here are a couple of places you may wish to keep your food storage containers:
- Pantry: For smaller quantities of dry foods, pantries can be one of the best places you can keep your rice and beans. After all, your pantry was explicitly built for storing food products.
- Basement: Another ideal spot to store your rice and beans is the basement, as basements are typically cool and dry; however, you may opt to avoid the basement if your area is prone to flooding.
Shelf life of Dried Beans and Uncooked Rice
In their original packaging, dried beans have a shelf life of about 3 years. Rice, on the other hand, has a shelf of 1 year. However, in the proper storage containers sealed with oxygen absorbers, both can have a maximum shelf life of 30 years.
Dried beans don’t have an indefinite shelf life, but they do last long. If you use the special methods discussed above, your dried beans may last a couple of decades. If you simply keep your dried beans in their original packaging in your pantry, they will last no more than 3 to 4 years.
Canned Beans vs. Dried Beans for Long Term Storage
In general, canned beans are superior for short-term storage. They are better than dried beans in the short term because they’re shelf-stable and non-perishable. You don’t need extra resources to make them edible, so you can eat them out of the can without heating in case of an emergency.
In the long term, dried beans are superior. One reason is that it’s easier to stock up on large quantities of dried beans than it is to do so with canned beans. Aside from this, dried beans are also better than canned beans when it comes to long-term storage because they’re more affordable when bought in bulk; they weigh less; they take up less storage space, and they have a longer shelf life.
How do you know if Dried Beans and Rice are too old?
Rice and beans share many of the same characteristics when they have gone bad. Generally, what you should be looking out for are obvious signs, such as spotting weevils or other insects, mold, and or an off odor. If you notice insects, discoloring, or a harsh odor coming from the food items, dispose of them immediately.
You’ll know whether your dried beans are still safe to eat by making sure they adhere to the following standards:
- No Mold Growth: You’ll want to make sure that your rice and beans are still close to their original color. If you see rice or beans with mottled skin, dark spots, or any other traces of mold, you should consider them unsafe for consumption.
- No Signs of Pantry Bugs: You’ll want to make sure there are no bugs inside your container or bag. You’ll also want to check if there are any signs of insect droppings. If so, you’ll need to throw out the beans.
- No Unusual Scents. Dried beans typically don’t have a strong scent. A strong or foul odor when you open your bag of beans could be a sign of fermentation, insect droppings, or mold.
So, if you’re looking to learn how to store rice and beans long-term, you can maintain the quality of rice and beans for up to 30 years by adding oxygen absorbers in mason jars, mylar bags, or food-grade buckets. If you want to go the extra mile, you can use a vacuum sealer.
Whichever containers you choose to pack your food in, you should always store them in a cool, dry place with little light to prevent food-spoilage organisms from growing.
We’ve discussed everything you need to know about storing your dried beans and rice for the long term. By following the steps above, you’re now able to ensure maximum shelf life for your dried beans and rice – regardless of which storage method you prefer. For more on healthy and natural prepping, check out the other posts on our website.
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.