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Beans

Beans are a magical food chock full of fiber and full of protein that stores well. There are three types of beans that we recommend for emergency food storage.

"Beans, beans they're a magical fruit! The more you eat the more you..." Well, since we've all heard it I guess I don't need to repeat all of it. As adults we know that beans aren't really a fruit, but they are pretty magical. They carry a great deal of essential nutrients and fiber that we need to survive over the long term. So they really are a magical food that should be included in our long term home food storage system.

An adult needs approximately 60 pounds of beans for a year supply. At first glance this may seem like an awful lot of beans, but keep in mind all that they can do for us. They are high enough in protein to replace meat in an emergency. Their fiber content is so high that eating only about one cup of cooked beans gives us almost half of the fiber we need to get through the day. Also, because they are so high in fiber we can eat less of them and still fill full; which would be a wonderful feeling to have if we ever had to go without as much food as we're used to eating today. Finally, as if all of this didn't give us enough good reasons to eat more beans, there is the simple fact that beans are high in anti-oxidants! So when you take this all in, suddenly storing 60 pounds of these super-foods may not seem like such a bad idea.

A great place to start with storing beans is to make sure you store more than one type. Variety is the "spice of life" and it is as applicable to storing beans as it is to anything else. So make sure to store more than just one kind.

There are three types of beans that you should have stored for an emergency food supply:

Kidney beans are usually dark red in color. They are really high in anti-oxidants which make them a great idea for storing for the long term. Kidney beans are often the ones that we use for making chili.

Black beans are (just like they sound) black in color. They have a somewhat nuttier flavor than other beans and are fairly small. They make a really good addition to soups and once again these beans are fairly high in anti-oxidants.

Pinto beans are a favorite around our house. We have small children who call them "cowboy beans"; for some reason our kids will eat "cowboy beans" but not the other kinds. Pinto beans are somewhat mottled in color and are great for using in burrito's or even mashed up as re-fried beans.

No matter what kind of beans you store, they will all store almost indefinitely. Make sure to keep them in an area that is as cool as possible and store them in appropriate containers. #10 food grade enamel lined cans and buckets with Mylar linings will work the best, but I've also known beans to last for years just on the shelf. The older they are the longer you have to soak them to get them to soften, but for the most part they're fine for a couple years on the shelf. After that, if they're not properly packaged they will begin to lose their flavor and nutrients. When stored in #10 cans with oxygen absorbers beans can last in excess of 20 years with substantial nutritional value.

Some tricks that people use when softening beans is to pour warm water over the beans and then stir in about 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir until it is dissolved and even spread throughout the water. Then soak overnight and rinse really well before you go to use them. This helps get rid of some of the gases that cause flatulence. Another trick is to not put high acid foods (such as tomato's or vinegar) into the pot until the beans are almost done being cooked. Adding high acid foods too early can toughen the beans and make them chewy.