How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 15, 2020 06:55

How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Beans and rice, a significant staple in a prepper’s pantry…or, should be. And, if the 2020 pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we can never be too prepared for shortages of any kind. Prepping or pandemic aside though, I just happen to love having beans and rice in the house. There are so many things you can do with them.

In addition to the many recipes you can use beans and rice in, there’s my dog. Every once in a while, he needs to go on a very strict diet for his digestive system, and that includes mostly rice. Unfortunately, he hit one of those times in the last couple weeks, and sure enough rice was the latest shortage in the stores in my area.

So in this article, I will be letting you know a very simple way to dry can rice and beans to last you for at least 20 years on the shelf. And as soon as the shortage is over, I will be doing a much larger batch than I currently am able to do for this demonstration and article.

Sure, you could store the beans and rice in plastic storage bins. But that won’t prevent bugs and larvae from getting in eventually. In fact, when you open the bags and boxes of beans and rice before dry canning, inspect them thoroughly. However, this process will kill off unseen bugs or larvae that you might miss.

Related: How to Keep Moisture and Pests Away from Your Food Stockpile

Supplies for Dry Canning Beans and Rice

Not only is the process quite simple, but the supply list is quite short. Here is what you will need or want:

  • Dry Beans – any type of dry beans, or a variety
  • Rice – any type of rice will work
  • Canning Jars and lids – whatever size you prefer
  • Funnel – not necessary, but might make it easier
  • Oven.

How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf LifeI need instant white rice for my dog, so that’s what we typically purchase. But it could be long grain, brown, flavored, instant or long cook. It doesn’t matter, any type can be dry canned.

For the beans, I love all beans, but I’m using pinto beans for this demonstration. I will also do this with black beans, and split peas in the future, because I use both quite often. You could also do some jars of mixed beans for bean soups.

It’s also good to know too, that both rice and beans can be purchased in bulk. So, if you want dozens of jars of each, no problem. Just know that if you are in an area similar to mine right now, you might have to wait until the shortages are over, before you can do large batches.

Step 1

Place the jars into a pot with about 1” of water and a splash of vinegar for a steam bath (about 15 minutes), to sterilize them. Let them steam for about 15 minutes, with the cover on the pot.How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Step 2

Thoroughly dry the jars by first wiping them with a clean cloth, then placing them in the oven at 220° until they are thoroughly dry (about 30 minutes). Let the jars cool down completely before the next step.
How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Step 3

Fill the jars with the rice or beans, with about ¾ air space at the top. Make sure that the rice and beans are not wet or moist at all. If there is any moisture, it will start to cook in the next step, which defeats the entire purpose of dry canning. It will also wipe out the main perk of all the work, because it will not result in a good shelf life.How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Step 4

Place the jars (without lids) in the oven at 220° for about 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the jars. The larger the jar, the longer the time.

You can place the lids in a small pan and then place the pan in the oven for the last 15 minutes, which will sterilize them, as well as heat them up for a good seal.How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Step 5

Pull the jars out of the oven, one at a time if you have a large batch. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure you don’t have any debri on it, that could prevent an appropriate seal from taking hold.How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf Life

Step 6

Tighten the lids securely, and place the jars aside. Wait for the popping to begin! The seals will start to pop, but if they have not popped (center of lid’s dome pops down) then you don’t have a seal. You should start the process again, if they have not sealed after 12 hours.How to Dry Can Beans and Rice for 20+ Years Shelf LifeNow that the beans and rice have been dry canned, you can store the unopened jars for at least 20 years. Some people swear that they have had success for up to 30 years.

Other items you could dry can include the following: dry pasta, dry oats, dry flour, dry spices, baking soda, baking powder.

You can even dry-can some baking mixes, as long as they don’t contain any nuts, shortening, oils, or brown sugar.

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KJ Barber
By KJ Barber June 15, 2020 06:55
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51 Comments

  1. Chuckster59 June 15, 15:21

    I put 3 pounds of beans or rice sealed in a 1 gallon mylar bag with one 500cc oxygen absorber packet. I think this will give the same result for the shelf life.

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    • wandamurline June 16, 05:44

      I put the rice and beans in separate mylar bags and stored them in a sealed 5 gallon plastic bucket with handles to easily move and added the oxygen absorber packet….when I took them out to donate because I no longer had enough space to keep them they were as fresh as the day I put them in the plastic bucket five years ago.

      Reply to this comment
      • HappySunshineGirl June 27, 15:28

        Hi, good article! I’m thinking of alternatives to the oven because I don’t have one. I have quart jars and huge amounts of dry stuff to jar, and I much prefer jars to Mylar after having to deal with rats.

        Could I use a desiccant (I’m in a very humid place and constantly watch the hygrometer) with an oxygen absorber instead of doing the oven heating? Anything I need to consider if I do it that way?

        Or I could try to befriend someone with a fancy double oven lol. TIA!

        Reply to this comment
    • Marti October 28, 21:22

      Followed the instructions to the T but my beans as they are cooling appear to be condensing inside the jars. They are sealing just fine, just wondered will the condensation affect longevity

      Reply to this comment
  2. grammy em June 15, 15:34

    since there will be no expansion, why is there need for head space? filling completely would reduce the amount of oxygen in each jar and would put more food in each jar. i wonder also, why not put the lids on before heating in the oven? closing the jars after they come out of the oven allows at least the theoretical possibility of contamination when closing…and handling the hot jars and lids might result in a burn or drop of hot materials. what do you think? is there any published data about this technique?

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    • Electrocool June 16, 10:22

      You need to heat and expand the air inside the jar. You then put the lid on and as it cools it creates a vacuum. The jars would explode due to the expansion if placed in the oven sealed. You could loosely place the lids and then screw right down when removing, this would entail less handling of hot items.

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      • RayK June 16, 17:42

        Why, then, do you put the lids on the jars before pressure canning? Same thing, different heat transfer method.

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        • Julia August 23, 02:36

          Pressure canning is wet pack method. You never pressure can dry foods. There is always a liquid when you pressure can. Dry pack canning is exactly what is says, dry, hence the hot air expansion etc, etc.

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      • Millie October 15, 19:46

        I put rice and beans in oven for 60 min 16oz jars along with 4 quart jars of rice (left them in). The 16oz jars sealed and then I saw moisture in both. Did some of the beans/rice cook? What did I do wrong? Beans and rice were in bags. I took them out and dried the jars and will try again.

        Reply to this comment
    • Jayne July 17, 20:16

      Hi! I am affraid of inflation and problems ahead for America. I want yo store food but am confused at where to start because I hear good things about different methods. Dry canning, pressure canning, mylar bags, special buckets, and seal bag machines. How do you know which to choose?

      Reply to this comment
      • Jennifer Davis Allen August 16, 00:04

        I use different methods for different type of food. Just like I use a water bath to can pickles and jams, but a pressure canner for less acidic green beans. Dry canning is for items which need to stay dry, such as flour, sugar, dried beans. I also have a foodsaver vacuum sealer machine.

        Reply to this comment
  3. Audie June 15, 16:10

    I put my beans and rice in jars as soon as I get them home, but I sure do like this idea a lot.

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  4. Jan H June 15, 16:11

    I have vacuum sealed rice with good results. Of course, I am nowhere near 20 years with it. I’d be curious if anybody else has tried that and has any experiences to share?

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    • JayJay June 21, 18:10

      I am at the 10 year mark for rice in buckets…the rice I’m using seems to be as fresh as any; some 12 years.
      I even put some in cleaned, dried soda 2 liter bottles and that is fine..no absorbers or any pre-treatment.
      We forget common sense sometimes and make things so damned hard that should be so easy…like storing rice long-term!!
      Have a good day.

      Reply to this comment
  5. SCSCHNUR June 15, 16:45

    Why can’t you buy 5 gallon buckets of beans already sealed up. Potatoes dried in 5 gallon buckets. other things ready made and packed for storage?

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    • Hazel June 15, 17:31

      Well of course you can…..IF you can afford it! This is a storage solution for those of us on a T I G H T budget 🙂

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  6. PNJunction June 15, 17:16

    It is much easer to go to the Home Storage Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints & buy all this and more. Already canned with oxygen absorber packets & a 30 year shelf life.
    https://store.churchofjesuschrist.org/usa/en/food-storage-3074457345616678849-1?pageView=grid&fromPage=catalogEntryList&beginIndex=0
    You may find a Home Storage Center near you; there are 140 in the USA

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  7. Marti June 15, 17:39

    I see some potential problems with using this method:
    EXPENSIVE – I can a whole lot. Jars are very expensive. For the amount of jars needed to store the equivalent of a 5 gallon pail, cost would be prohibitive.
    SPACE – 5 gallons worth of rice/beans in jars would require a lot more space than a bucket.
    BREAKAGE – God forbid an earthquake or something else, broken jars and your product cannot be salvaged.
    Personally, I use mylar bags, Diochemateus Earth (DE) sprinkled in and mixed to kill any possible bugs, seal the mylars and put the lid on the storage bucket. I do “can” dehydrated foods by putting them in jars, using an oxygen absorber and sealing the jars with a vacuum sealer. Never had any problems.

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    • Chuckster59 June 15, 23:43

      I do not use Diochemateus Earth inside my mylar bags for bugs because I freeze all products at -10 farenheit for 3 days. I have read this will kill all bugs AND their eggs. Rice is especially bug-prone.

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    • DavidOH June 25, 23:23

      Yes Expensive , and Energy Intensive !
      Boiling, Baking, and lots of TIME processing each batch !
      IF was was going to use my canning jars for this, I would vacuum seal them.

      Reply to this comment
    • Matt Higginbotham June 27, 15:39

      I haven’t had a single jar break in the year I been canning though I haven’t tried dry canning. One advantage to using jars is having various smaller sizes that you can grab without compromising the rest. Especially for a single person or a couple who may not go through five gallons quickly. Possibly even gifting or trading.

      Reply to this comment
  8. hotrodhazel June 15, 17:43

    Can you do flour and sugar

    Reply to this comment
    • DavidOH June 25, 23:04

      You could, but those item do not keep as long.
      Wheat should be stored instead of flour.
      Invest in a good grinder to make your own flour.

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  9. BC June 15, 18:02

    This is fantastic information, KJ Barber! I have 40 lbs of beans and half-gallon jars, to begin with. Thank you very much for this article!

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  10. Jamee June 15, 18:13

    You cannot so this with brown rice unless you plan to eat it within a year or so. Brown rice has too much oil to store for 20 years. It will go rancid. You can only store white rice for that long either by dry canning or in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers in plastic buckets with a gasket.

    Reply to this comment
    • Chuckster59 June 15, 23:46

      There should be no need to put a PROPERLY sealed mylar bag with an oxygen absorber inside of a food grade bucket with a seal/gasket lid. If your mylar bags are thin enough to let light in then putting your sealed mylar bags inside of anything that will keep light out should suffice.

      As for brown rice, I too have read exactly what you said.

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  11. Bill June 15, 19:56

    I put 25 to 30 pounds of beans or rice in a mylar bag (not absolutely necessary) , put the bag in a five gallon plastic bucket, throw in an activated handwarmer as an oxygen absorber and hammer on the lid nice and tight. The lid must have an O- ring (Home Depot buckets and lids are great). I can then stack the buckets three to four high. Also this is relatively inexpensive and is not in danger of breaking.

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  12. Bulldog06 June 15, 21:54

    We have used this method for about the last 14 years. I certainly work…in that if done correctly the jars retain a good seal. The down side however is that after about 10 years of storage many of the food items reflect a significant decline in nutritional value. We expected some, but for flour/grain items it is significant. Better stock up on lots of vitamins, and don’t try to store processed grains/flour too long. Keep things like wheat berries to grind later.

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  13. Illini Warrior June 16, 00:11

    negative about using the oven dry canning method is heating up the stored food – never a good thing …

    you can sterilize the jars & lids the same way but use a 100cc 02 absorber or the jar attachment for the vacuum sealer to long term store dry goods food for a few decades …

    Reply to this comment
  14. Lenny June 16, 02:54

    I’d like to hear from someone who has stored dry beans this way or any other way for at least 5 years and then cooked them. If beans are just put on the shelf in their store packaging, they are practically inedible after 2-3 years. No matter how long they are cooked, they do not soften completely. Do these methods prevent that problem?

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    • Sophie June 16, 08:43

      Do not throw away those old beans. Rather, grind them into a flour.

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    • fifth_disciple June 16, 19:37

      In 2012 I put 50 lbs each of Red Beans, Pinto Beans, Black Beans and Lima Beans, Rice, Corn Meal, Flour, Corn Flour, Salt and Sugar in Home Depot buckets without mylar bags.. I kept them in an air conditioned shop until March of this year.

      Last month I opened each up. The only failure I had was one bucket of Corn Flour cracked at the bottom and insects contaminated it. I cooked test meals with everything else. My wife, who is fastidious about what she eats, approved of all.

      We own a VacMaster chamber sealer and I repackaged all into 5 lb bags and moved them to our kitchen. The VacMaster will also accommodate 6 pint canning jars at a time. I keep things like yeast in jars and seal them after each use

      Reply to this comment
    • JayJay June 21, 18:20

      I am eating brown beans for dinner today.
      Stored in a 5 gallon bucket many years ago–like 2008/2009, no special treatment, just put is a bucket, DE added for bugs, etc….and lid banged on.
      I always soak my pinto and white beans in baking soda for a few hours or the night before and they cook well.
      DG now has a 4 lb. baking soda box for $2.
      No trips to sam’s club now.

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    • Hawthorn June 25, 15:07

      Thank you, that is my question as well. I even tried baking soda as reccomended by a neighbor to soften old beans with no success. My other question is where to get the mylar bags everyone keeps mentioning. Inquiring minds & all… & I don’t have a vacuum sealer.

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    • Oldcountryolgairene June 27, 15:52

      Tough beans might be a matter of taste. I’ve pulled out beans 4-5 years old, rehydrated overnight w warm water and baking soda, then cooked them. For me, they were tasty, edible too hard or grainy but for others, they were fine.

      Also, for old beans, you could try germinating them, might get one out of five that you will grow. Like someone else said, you could grind them and use them like any other flour to make things like fry bread or griddle cakes. It’s common in Indian cuisine.

      Reply to this comment
  15. Jennifer June 16, 13:41

    Dry canning is a really terrible idea. Beyond the risks for breakage and the high cost of jars and lids, heat is one of the four enemies of food for long term storage. Heating the food for 60-90 minutes before canning only kills bugs, drives out moisture, and shortens the shelf-life. It does nothing against light or oxygen.

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  16. Chele June 17, 00:17

    Unfortunately, KJ either didn’t do enough research or didn’t bother posting it. If you contact Ball/Kerr they will inform you that dry heat is NOT recommended for their jars, nor is it approved. It can weaken them and cause breakage.

    Additionally, I don’t understand the need for using an oven when a vacuum sealer does the exact same thing without heating up the food to a cooking temperature.

    Please be smart about your food storage. Double check methods mentioned EVERYWHERE on the internet…including here.

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    • JR September 22, 01:35

      Many people dry can. Their jars do not break. Ball isn’t going to approve it! They have liabilities. One thing that gets tiresome is all the preppers who answer with superior tones. What one likes others may not. Just make your suggestion and leave it at that.

      Reply to this comment
  17. Schu June 20, 01:34

    I am interested to try a different method. I read you can use nitrogen and a small candle.
    Fill your bucket to within 2 inches of the top, place the small candle on top and light it, stick a wand clear to the bottom of the bucket attached by hose to a Nitrogen tank and start the air supply. As the Nitrogen fills the bucket it replaces the oxygen until the candle goes out. Then throw in an oxygen absorber and hammer on the lid. I read a testimony that grain sealed like this was still good after 40 years.

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  18. CB September 24, 19:28

    what about using a vacuum sealer with lid attachment? aren’t you essentially doing the same thing in half the time?

    Reply to this comment
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