Dried beans are a must for any food storage program. Beans are cheap, they are a good source of protein, they taste good, and they are easy to store. You can buy sealed, nitrogen packed, buckets of dried beans; but that is not really necessary unless you just want to do it for convenience and you have a lot more money to spend than I do. One problem with buckets of dried beans is that when you open a bucket, you now have about five gallons of the same kind of beans to eat. If the only reason that you are buying the beans is for emergency food storage then that’s not too big of a problem. But, I like to eat and replace my stored foods, and I don’t want to eat five gallons of pinto beans before I can get my first bowl of black-eyed peas. So here’s how I store my dried beans. I don’t know if they will last 30 years like the nitrogen packed ones, but I am eating beans that were stored 8 years ago and they are perfectly fine.
First buy your beans. You can go to places like Sam’s Club, Costco, or many health food stores and buy them in 25 to 50 pound bags or you can buy them at the grocery store. Most grocery stores don’t carry bags larger than 5 or 10 pounds. I usually go to the grocery store and buy bags of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans, lentils, and etc.
I use a marker to mark each bag with the date (this is easier to do before you put the beans into the bag).
I place the quart bags of beans in the freezer and let them stay in there for a week. This kills any bugs or larvae that may be in the beans.
After the beans have been in the freezer for a week, I take them out, open each bag, drop a 100cc oxygen absorber pack into the bag, and reseal the bag.
Next I place the assorted bags of beans into a 5 gallon food grade bucket that has been lined with a plastic trash bag.
Be sure that the trash bag is not treated with a deodorizer or insecticide (the cheap bags usually don’t have any of these fancy additives). A lot of people recommend using food grade mylar bags, but in this case I don’t really see the point. The food is actually contained in food storage bags. The plastic trash bag is just another layer of protection against moisture, and the food never comes into contact with it. Now, just seal the trash bag and seal the bucket.
If you want, you can place a small piece of dry ice in the bucket before you seal it. The dry ice will sublimate into CO2 gas which is heavier than air and will force the air out of the top of the bucket. If you do this be sure to not seal the top of the bucket until the dry ice has melted down to a sliver about the size of a nickel. If you seal the bucket too early, the CO2 gas that is forming will expand the bucket and possibly blow the lid off. Not good. I personally don’t go the CO2 route and I have never had a problem with the beans going bad. Which ever way you do it, be sure to label the bucket “BEANS” and put the date on it.
Now you have a sealed bucket full of assorted bags of beans. You can remove a bag of pintos, and when they are used up, you can pull out a bag of navy beans. This keeps your diet from becoming too monotonous. When you have gone through an entire bucket of beans (probably a couple of years depending on how many you are feeding and often you eat beans) you can refill and re-label the emptied bucket and start eating out of the next bucket in your rotation.