Dried green lentils are a staple in many households, and for good reason.
They’re cheap, you can buy them in virtually any dollar store, convenience store, and supermarket, and they are shelf-stable.
This means that you don’t have to refrigerate dried green lentils, and they’ll keep for a really long time regardless (provided you store them properly, which is what this guide will cover).
But, as long as the shelf life of dried green lentils is, no one can deny that no food lasts forever.
So how long do dried green lentils last in storage? And what should you do to make them last longer?
If kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, dried green lentils retain their best quality for 1 year. Their vitamin content decreases after 2-3 years and disappears completely after 5 years.
They will usually stay safe to eat beyond that, and their content of proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals will remain unchanged.1Preserve the Harvest, Utah State University
Store dried green lentils in a dark cupboard in your kitchen, on the shelving of your pantry, or in an unheated basement, in a tightly sealed container that will keep out dust and moisture and protect them from critter infestation. Alternatively, you can also store dried green lentils in your garage or attic.
Although you can keep dried green lentils in their original packaging, they will dry out faster as plastic packages are permeable to air. A much better storage option, then, is to transfer them into airtight containers, like mason jars or plastic containers with airtight lids and rubber seals.
Make Your Dried Green Lentils Last Longer
To maximize the shelf life of the dried green lentils in your kitchen, protect them from exposure to oxygen and light. Oxygen can cause the natural fats that the dried green lentils contain to go rancid.
Direct sunlight can cause their color to fade, as well as their flavor profile and nutritional value to deteriorate more quickly.
It isn’t a good idea to store dried green lentils on top of your fridge or freezer because these two appliances generate heat. Also, never store dried foods on the windowsill as sunlight can cause them to deteriorate fast.
Make sure to put the dried green lentils in a room with low humidity. As with all other dried foods, if the dried green lentils absorb excess moisture from their environment, they can turn into a breeding ground for mold and bacteria—and become inedible.
To preserve dried green lentils for a long time, package them in #10 cans or in Mylar bags with the oxygen removed, where they can last for 20 to 30 years. Remember: Cooler storage temperatures make the dried green lentils last longer.
Studies show that the optimal storage temperature for dried foods is between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 21 degrees Celcius).2Green R., D.J.Rose, L.V.Ogden, O.A.Pike. “Effects of long-term storage on quality of retail-packaged wheat.” Journal of Food Science
Will Old Dried Green Lentils Soften?
Absolutely yes, old dried green lentils will soften! You just need to make sure to sort and rinse or soak them properly.
The trick to sorting dried green lentils is to take a handful at a time, inspect them carefully, and discard any legumes that appear too dry or wilted.3J. Languille, D. Luther, S. Wells, The Prepper’s Ultimate Storage Guide
Green lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking. That said, they do need a good rinse under cold running water to remove dirt, dust, and debris from the harvest.
How to Tell If Dried Green Lentils Have Gone Bad
If, while cleaning out your pantry, you come across a bag of dried green lentils that you’re not sure when you bought, you can probably eat them without hesitation as long as they meet the following conditions:
- No critters. If your dried green lentils are infested with weevil larvae or bugs, err on the side of caution and throw them away. (Even if you strive to minimize food waste, you, like most people, may find the thought of eating larvae disgusting.)
- No mold. Fuzzy patches or green spots on your dried green lentils are a sign that they’re overgrown with mold. Since you have no way to determine their safety, you should discard them immediately.
- No off odors. If your dried green lentils smell off, it could be a sign that the fats that they contain have gone rancid. Worse, it could indicate mold growth or bacterial activity.
Trust your senses; they are there to protect you. The number one rule of food safety is, when in doubt, throw it out.
- 1Preserve the Harvest, Utah State University
- 2Green R., D.J.Rose, L.V.Ogden, O.A.Pike. “Effects of long-term storage on quality of retail-packaged wheat.” Journal of Food Science
- 3J. Languille, D. Luther, S. Wells, The Prepper’s Ultimate Storage Guide