How to Tell If Green Beans are Bad: A Simple Guide

Green beans are a staple in many households and a popular vegetable in many dishes. However, like all fresh produce, they can go bad if not stored or handled properly. So here’s how to tell if green beans are bad…

How to Tell If Green Beans are Bad

When it comes to green beans, it can be difficult to tell if they have gone bad just by looking at them. However, there are a few key signs to look out for that can indicate that your green beans are no longer fresh.

Visual Signs

One of the most obvious signs that green beans have gone bad is if they have turned brown or have brown spots on them. Fresh green beans should be a bright green colour and should not have any discolouration. Additionally, if you notice that the leaves of the beans have brown spots, it could be an indication that the beans are no longer fresh.

Another visual sign to look out for is rust on the green beans. Rust can appear as small, reddish-brown spots on the surface of the beans. If you notice rust on your green beans, it is best to throw them away.


Another way to tell if green beans have gone bad is to smell them. Fresh green beans should have a slightly sweet, grassy scent. If your green beans have a sour or unpleasant odour, it could be an indication that they have spoiled.


The texture of green beans can also be a good indicator of whether they are fresh or not. Fresh green beans should be firm and snap easily when bent. If your green beans feel soft or mushy, it could be a sign that they have gone bad.

Additionally, slimy green beans should be avoided. If your green beans feel slimy to the touch, it could be an indication that they have started to rot.

how to tell if green beans are bad...

How to Store Green Beans

Storing Fresh Green Beans

To keep fresh green beans at their best, it is important to store them properly. The following tips can help extend their shelf life:

  • Store green beans in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge’s crisper drawer. The perforations will allow the beans to breathe and prevent moisture from building up inside the bag
  • If you do not have a perforated plastic bag, you can use a regular plastic bag with a few small holes poked in it
  • Do not wash green beans until you are ready to use them. Washing them prematurely can cause them to spoil faster
  • Fresh green beans can last up to 5 days in the fridge if stored properly

Storing Cooked Green Beans

If you have leftover cooked green beans, you can store them in the fridge for later use. Here are some tips for storing cooked green beans:

  • Allow the beans to cool to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Cooked green beans can last up to 4 days in the fridge
  • Do not leave cooked green beans out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as this can cause bacteria to grow and spoil the beans
How to Tell If Green Beans are Bad

How Long do Green Beans Last in the Fridge?

Green beans typically last about 7-10 days when properly stored in the refrigerator.

  • Freshness is key – use or freeze green beans as soon as possible after harvesting or bringing home from the store. Beans that feel limp or show signs of spotting will have reduced storage life.
  • Store beans loose or in perforated plastic bags which allow airflow; while keeping them isolated from other produce (as to prevent ethylene gas exposure which speeds spoilage).
  • Beans keep best at the optimal refrigerator temperature of around 40°F (4°C). Check that your fridge vents are not blocked and the temperature is appropriately cold.
  • With proper storage, crisp raw green beans will usually last 7-10 days before significant softening or moisture loss occurs. Preparing them (trimmed, washed, cut, blanched) shortens fridge life to around 5 days.
  • If beans show spots, very shriveling texture, mold or sliminess they should be discarded even if before the 7-10 day timeframe.

Freezing is probably a better option if you know you won’t be using your green beans within 7-10 days.

green beans

Green Beans with Brown Spots

If you notice that your green beans have some brown spots on them, while it most likely means they’re beginning to go ‘bad’, it isn’t always the case. So, if you’ve asked yourself ‘why do my green beans have brown spots on them?’, let’s take a look at a few reasons…

  1. Older beans or natural color variation: As green beans sit after being picked, they can start to naturally shrivel and develop brown spots or freckles. This is due to oxidation and aging, but does not necessarily mean the beans are bad and inedible. Also, some heirloom varieties also have natural brown flecks or stripes.
  2. Sunscald: If the beans were exposed to intense, direct sunlight, areas may turn light brown due to sunscald. This is usually surface level and the inner bean is still fine to eat. Just trim off the damaged outer area.
  3. Disease or rot: Sometimes brown spots can be early signs of bacterial or fungal infections setting in, like common blight or bean rust. Look closely at the spots – if they are sunken, mushy or
    expanding, this indicates rot rather than simple discoloration. Rotten beans should be discarded.
  4. Insect damage: Bean leaf beetles, corn borers and other pests can sometimes damage and leave lesions or entry holes on bean pods which then brown over. Unless extensive, this does not necessarily mean you need to discard the whole bean.
brown spots on green beans

Slimy Green Beans

Slimy green beans is not a good sign and indicates the beans have spoiled and should be discarded.

Some potential causes and meaning behind finding slimy green beans include:

  • Bacterial/fungal growth – The slimy texture is caused by naturally occurring microbes and enzymes breaking down the plant cell structure. This breakdown causes the unpleasant, viscos sliminess and can be an early stage of spoilage.
  • Time/temperature abuse – If green beans sat at warm temperatures for an extended period, it enables rapid multiplication of spoilage microbes that then create the slime. Properly refrigerating beans after harvest/purchase prevents this.
  • Freezer burn – Sliminess can happen if green beans have been in the freezer too long (8+ months) and suffer freezer burn. The cell walls break down, creating unpleasant soft slimy spots upon thawing.
  • Inadvertent thawing & refreezing – If frozen beans partially thaw and then refreeze, it damages the plant cells. The beans will emerge from the freezer slimy even if not yet harboring many microbes.

What to Do with Spoiled Green Beans

If you have discovered that your green beans have gone bad, it is important to dispose of them properly. Here are two options for what to do with spoiled green beans:


Composting is a great way to dispose of spoiled green beans. If you have a compost bin or pile, you can simply add the spoiled green beans to it. Green beans are a good source of nitrogen, which is an important nutrient for compost. Just be sure to mix the green beans in with other compostable materials like leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable scraps.

Throwing Away

If you do not compost or do not have access to a compost bin, you can throw away the spoiled green beans. However, it is important to dispose of them properly to prevent attracting pests or creating unpleasant odours. Here are some tips for throwing away spoiled green beans:

  • Wrap the green beans in a plastic bag before placing them in the bin to prevent any odours from escaping.
  • If possible, take the bag of green beans directly to an outdoor bin to prevent odours from lingering in your home.
  • Do not throw the green beans in the recycling bin as they are not recyclable.

It’s not recommended to eat spoiled green beans as they can cause food poisoning. It is generally safe to eat green beans that have been in the fridge for up to five days, but if they have gone bad, it is best to dispose of them properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long do uncooked beans last in the fridge? Uncooked green beans can last up to 5 days in the fridge if stored properly.
  • Do green beans in a bag go bad? Yes, green beans in a bag can go bad if not stored properly.
  • Why do green beans go slimy in a bag? Green beans can become slimy in a bag if they are not stored properly and moisture builds up inside the bag.
  • How long do fresh washed green beans last in fridge? Fresh washed green beans can last up to 5 days in the fridge if stored properly.
  • How do you clean fresh green beans? To clean fresh green beans, rinse them under cold water and remove any stems or leaves.
  • How long does it take for beans to go bad? If not stored properly, green beans can go bad within a few days.
  • Can beans be too old to cook? Yes, beans can be ‘too old’ to cook if they have gone bad.

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