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Can Dried Beans Go Bad?

I found a couple of bags of dried beans in my kitchen and they are past the expiration date. I always thought that dried beans last a very long time if kept dry.

Do you think it's safe to use them?

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  1. Perfectly safe; they're probably a bit dry though, so may take longer to cook.

    1. They're safe -- but I would toss them anyway. Sometimes they get so old they won't cook properly. They stay crunchy no matter how long you simmer them for. They're so cheap that I don't think it is worth wasting the other ingredients to take a chance.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rfaill

        I agree this just happened me, they still taste crunchy that's red beans by the way I was going to make chili these beans ARE OLD!!!!!! Think I'm going to throw them out, Do an overnight soak instead of boil and sit for hours on some NEW beans. Thanks for the advice

      2. I'm with rfaill on this one... tho' you could use them as weights when you're blind-baking a pie crust.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Aunt Jenny

          yah, me too. Once cooked old beans for more than 24 hours, and they -never- got tender. Best for blind baking a crust. :)

        2. They're definitely "safe." And it's true that the older thay are, the longer they take to cook. But I've often cooked dried beans that are past expiration date and never once had a problem. I guess it depends on just how long past expiration date, but I think we're talking years here, not months.

          1. UPDATE:
            I ended up soaking them over night and just finished cooking them for a little over 2 hours. I am tasting them now and they are perfectly tender and pretty darn delicious! Who knew expired food could taste so good?

            Thanks, everyone!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: pixelrn

              Then they weren't as old as the ones I tried to cook. Yay for tender beans! :)

              1. re: pixelrn

                An extra-long soak helps "old" beans quite a bit...like 24 hours, rather than just the standard 12-hr overnight soak. Still, I did once encounter a bag of Thrifty Maid black beans that remained hard in tiny bits despite a long soak, really long cooking, pureeing, and cooking some more.

                1. re: pixelrn

                  Just one of the reasons that dried beans are so wonderful. Being tasty as h*ll and really fibrous and nutritious are big bonuses.

                2. While dried beans won't harm you when they are old, the issue becomes nutritional value. They lose more and more the older they are.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: blampl

                    why would they lose nutritional value? Their big benefits are protein and fiber, and I don't think either of those are going to disappear in the time frames we're talking about here.

                  2. A tip for chickpeas, which probably works for other beans too, is to add a few teaspoons of baking soda to the soaking water, which breaks down hard cell walls. The payoff is that the baking soda leaches more of the nutrients from the beans, but to be honest, if I'm adding nutrient-rich foods to the beans (like for a bean stew) I don't worry excessively about minor nutrient loss

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: limoen

                      Baking soda breaks it down way too much for me. Turns beans to mush, if you ask me. :) Old beans don't go bad, they just become impossible to cook through, even WITH baking soda.

                      1. re: Morganna

                        As an experiment a few years ago, I soaked (in water) and cooked a pound of white beans - can't recall now if they were navy or great northern - that I had used twice for blind baking, then kept in a metal-lidded glass jar for at least a decade, maybe two. Then I ate them. They had no flavor except a little bitterness but then again, neither variety tastes like much. They were mealy but did get tender enough after prolonged simmering.

                    2. Surprised no one mentioned making bean bags! You can use old socks (cut oft tops or use short ones) and fill with beans, tie in knots or sew to close. They make great juggling malls, pillows for under the neck or weights to apply on the body during deep relaxation on the back, throw balls for kids, etc! Get crafty!

                      1. I once had some chana dal so old I had to use them as pie weights. They just wouldn't soften up no longer how long I soaked or cooked them. But, that's pretty rare, probably because they were bought at a market with slow turnover, which is never a good idea.