Good morning, everyone! It’s harvest time in all parts of the country (the United States, that is), and part of the harvest this time of the year is dried beans. (Or, like me, you let your shell beans stay on the vine too long and they become dried beans. 😉 ) Whether you intentionally dry your beans on the vine or you have too many dried pods for use as seed for next year, you’ll need to know how to prepare them for long-term storage.
HOW TO HARVEST VINE DRIED BEANS:
Like other vegetables that are not canned or frozen, beans must be completely dry before storing, else they will get moldy. If your beans are drying on the vine, be sure you don’t pick them until the pods are fully dried (brown/tan color). You’ll know the beans inside are dry because they will make a rattling sound when the pod is shaken. Here’s a picture of a recent butter pea harvest. The pods on the left are “fresh,” while the pods on the right are vine-dried.
Shell your dried beans, then remove any beans that are wrinkled, deformed, or beginning to sprout.
HOW TO PASTEURIZE VINE DRIED BEANS:
Beans dried on the vine may contain bacteria, tiny insects, or even insect eggs. (GASP!) Because of that, you shouldn’t just shell your dried beans and store them. They must be pasteurized or sterilized first. (NOTE: After doing the following, the seeds will no longer be viable for planting, only for storage and eating.)
There are two ways you can do this.
- FREEZING METHOD: Place your shelled dried beans in a freezer bag and put in a freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less for a minimum of 48 hours. Remove the beans from the freezer bag and let them come to room temperature, being sure they are fully dry before storing. (Condensation from the temperature difference between the freezer and your kitchen will cause mold if stored cold.)
- OVEN METHOD: Place your shelled dried beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Place in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. (Beans stored warm will cause condensation in the jar and mold will form.)
I use the oven method. My oven settings don’t go as low as 160 degrees, so I used 170 degrees (its lowest setting) with no problem.
Either one of these methods will sterilize your beans.
HOW TO STORE DRIED BEANS:
Once your beans are sterilized and have come to room temperature (no matter the method you choose for sterilizing), store them in an air-tight glass container. I use mason jars.
There you have it. A very simple way to store your beans for winter cooking.
Do you grow beans for long-term storage?