When it comes to stocking up on pantry essentials, everyone knows that canned foods offer great value. Not only are they affordable and often easy to cook, but they are also a great non-perishable item that has a long shelf life. However, that does not mean your canned goods do not eventually go bad though.
One area of canned foods that are easy to stock up on is canned beans. Full of fiber and protein, beans are a great staple to have. They are easy to add into recipes and can be a versatile food to enjoy while also being vegetarian and vegan friendly. If you are wondering how long canned beans last, then you’re asking the right questions.
All foods are required to have an expiration date on them, but this does not necessarily mean that they have gone bad. How many times have you eaten a food with an expiration date and found that it was perfectly fine? There are no set standards set by the USDA when it comes to expiration dates, so they are set by the manufacturer. Wanting their food to be the freshest possible, these dates may or may not be accurate.
The good news for the average consumer is that canned goods can last indefinitely if they are kept in good condition. That does not mean that you will not notice any changes over time though. There are several limiting factors when it comes to the life of your canned goods. Low-acid canned foods such as beans will last longer.
Do Beans Go Bad?
Any canned food can go bad, and some will go bad over time. Eventually you will want to either use the beans or discard them. It may be the packaging on the beans that plays more of a factor in their shelf life though. Corrosion, rusting, temperatures, and other problems with the containers will all have a limiting effect on their shelf life. If you notice that your canned beans have been exposed to heat such as being in the direct sunlight for a period, they may be affected. Rusting and corrosion of the metal can also mean that they should be discarded rather than used.
If your canned beans are kept in a cool, dark place, they will likely last longer but that does not necessarily mean you will not still notice some changes. Most canned foods are going to change in taste and texture over time. They may even lose some of their nutrition value. Since the “use-by” or “best-by” date that is on the canned refers to quality rather than safety, you can continue to use the beans but keep in mind that the taste may not be as good. Some of the warning signs that you should not eat them include bulging or leaking cans. If you open the container and notice an unusual color or smell, it is probably best to discard them without eating.
Once you open the beans, you are going to have a short window to use them before they start to go bad. Open beans can be stored in a refrigerated environment for 3-4 days. It may be tempting to keep them in the can, but they are better kept for quality in a glass or plastic container. If you are not planning on using the beans right away, you can also freeze them for a few months. In general, it is best to only open the cans that you plan to use to avoid having them be wasted after opening.
Getting the Most from Canned Beans
In general, having canned beans in your pantry is a smart choice that gives you options for cooking. However, you may find that your canned goods do not always last as long as you want. Beans should last at least a few years when stored properly. If you are concerned about shelf life, keep them in a cool, dry place and rotate them out when you get new beans. If you are using your beans throughout the year and adding new ones into your supply, you probably will not ever run into any expiration problems. If concerned about the storage of the beans, make sure to inspect each open container before using it in recipes for the best results.