Advice, please

I’m in a pickle over my Nicaraguan red beans. Today when I opened the tin to scoop some out to clean, wash and cook for supper, they smelled like mold. I didn’t think too much about it since a cloud of earthy moldiness lingers about them at all times anyway. But after cooking them up, they tasted of mold. I don’t think each of the individual beans were tainted since some fork-fulls tasted fine, but there were enough of them in a compromised state that the cooked beans all together in the pot gave off an unappetizing aroma.

Pre-supper, and post-feeding The Baby Nickel a snack of the questionable beans, I scoured the web, in my slow dial-up way, trying to answer the question of Is it dangerous to eat moldy dried beans, and What to do if your dried beans smell moldy, but I came up empty-handed.

So we ate the beans for supper. I heaped on the salsa and sour cream, and then I had another helping—they weren’t too bad. The kids didn’t say a word them, and I certainly didn’t make any mention of the problem, but Mr. Handsome noticed the odd flavor. He ate them anyway, of course, having to set a good example for the chillens. And besides, I had decided that if we’re going to die, we’re all going to die together.

But now I don’t know what to do. Save the beans? Chuck them? I still have fifteen to twenty pounds of these used-to-be gorgeous beans. And they still are gorgeous; I can see no signs of mold on them at all—they just taste of mold. I had neglected to put aside some of the beans for next year’s seed, so I picked over another quart of beans and now they’re sitting on the counter, ready to be run down cellar to the freezer. The beans will be okay as seed, won’t they?

Ach, I don’t know what to do! Would you (yes, you!) stoop to help me in my distressful time of need? Pretty please? Below I’ve listed some options that should simplify your role of advice-giver. Just leave a comment, with the letter that best aligns with your thoughts on the matter, plus any clarifying remarks. I’d be most obliged.


Please select one of the following:

A. It is Super Dangerous to eat those beans! I can’t believe you ate them for supper. By ten o’clock tonight you will all be puking your guts out, mark my words.

B. Eh, you’ll probably be just fine as long as you wash them well and cook them for the full amount of time. Toss in some jalapenos to counter the moldy flavor. (You might want to refrain serving them to any dinner guests, though.)

C. You could probably remedy the fix by rinsing them in a bleach-water solution and then re-drying them.

D. What are you thinking! Bleach your beans?! No-no-no, Honey. All you need to do is lay them out on brown bags by the wood stove to re-dry. So simple, really. (Bleach! My goodness, I still can not believe it.)

E. Excuse me, but I disagree with “C” and “D”. It’s obviously a hopeless case—once your beans taste of mold, they will always taste of mold. You won’t get sick, but you won’t want to eat them either. The moldiness will just intensify over the next weeks and months. Soon your house will smell of mold. And then you’ll notice little fuzzy, black patches on your clothes and on your un-polyurethaned window trim—signs that the mold is taking over your house completely. The situation will shortly become dire. Not good, no, not good at all.

F. Do not plant moldy-tasting beans because the resulting plants will spread disease and destruction to the entire garden. You must put on your to-do list: fly to Nicaragua to get new beans ASAP.

G. The answer to your problem is so totally, like, duh, obvious; I can’t believe you didn’t know this already. What you need to do is ___________.


  • Ann

    I harvested dried and stored my beans last fall now (spring) I went to cook then and they seem to have some white mold and are sticky???? Not willing to smell mold! Please, anyone?

  • Anonymous

    Eh, if you haven’t already gotten sick, you should be fine eating them. Don’t know where the moldy taste is coming from. What I advised was for finding good ones to plant. The floaters are dead, so they’ll never germinate and sprout. That’s why you should rid them from your store of seed for the garden. Good luck.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Thanks for all the advice. We haven’t gotten sick, so I can’t bring myself to throw them out.

    Jen M, So if I just skim off all the beans that float then I should eliminate the mold flavor? The ony thing is, I’ve always had some beans that float, this time there were no more than normal, and I’ve never skimmed them before. Don’t quite know what to make of that, but I guess it’s worth a try.

    I think I’ll try redrying them, too.

    I’m cooking up a big pot of chili right now—we’ll see if that helps.


  • Sarah

    I think the best answer is F. Definitely a trip to Nicaragua. I Googled and Wikipedia-ed for solutions to moldy Nicaraguan red beans and only came up with lots of hits about record low airfare for international travel.


  • Anonymous

    I’d go with B.

    Floating your beans in water for a moment or two to get rid of the ‘floaters’ and then redrying them won’t significantly affect the germination.

    And the chickens are a great idea too.


  • Anonymous

    I think, in the olden days they used to hang the beans in a cloth bag for more reasons than to keep the mice away.

    -Aunt V

  • Anonymous

    I can’t imagine that moldy tasting beans are going to hurt you but I also know that mold where it doesn’t belong is not a flavor that I like to encounter. Leave that for the Blue cheese. You could try cooking them with a ham bone to mask the taste. If they were my beans I would save a generous amount to plant this spring and cook up the remainder to feed to the chickens. Sorry, there went a lot of work for chicken feed.

    -Aunt V

  • Anonymous

    This problem is easily fixable. First dry the beans well. Then, before cooking them, soak them extra long and drain the water at least twice. Then cook them with lots of vinegar and lime and that will cut the mold.

  • Anonymous

    H. Don’t know what to tell you about actually eating the moldy things. But husband (resident expert on all things agricultural–he teaches it) says any bean that floats in water will not be viable, therefore not good for use as seed. Of course, once you test them in water they’ll start to sprout, so you’d better be ready to plant them. Trying to re-dry them after testing would probably kill them (because germination would have already begun.) There. Hope this helps.

Leave a Comment