Can You Freeze Pinto Beans?

Beans are jam packed with vitamins and minerals and are also very cheap. What’s better than getting an economical meal that is nutritious? However, cooking dry beans can take hours and, although easy, can be frustrating as you have to check how they are cooking at regular intervals. You don’t really want to do this for just one meal, so what is the solution? Can you freeze pinto beans for future use? The simple answer is yes. You can cook your dried pinto beans and then freeze them. You can keep them in the freezer for up to six months. However, can you freeze uncooked pinto beans? Yes, you can and in this article, we will take a look at how you can freeze both raw and cooked pinto beans and if it is worth freezing canned pinto beans. 

Are You Able to Freeze Cooked Pinto Beans? 

Yes, this is possible. It is much more economical to buy dry pinto beans and then cook them rather than buying cans of beans. They are more expensive and will only be suitable for one meal. A pack of dried pinto beans will last for many meals. You can cook the dried beans in batches and then freeze them in portions suitable for a meal at a time.

Are You Able to Freeze Raw Pinto Beans?

You can freeze raw pinto beans but for a different reason from freezing cooked pinto beans. It is a good way to clean them from weevils and other bugs. If you think that there are bugs in your dried pinto beans, put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for one to two weeks. This will get rid of the bugs and then you can use the beans (see also ‘Can you Freeze Runner Beans?‘). You might want to just cook a small amount for one meal or you may cook a pack of beans (see also Can You Freeze Baked Beans) and then freeze them. One thing to remember is not to freeze the raw beans for more than two weeks otherwise they will spoil. Another problem is freezer burn so make sure that you get all the air out of the bags or containers. Freezer burn doesn’t cause any harm to your health, but the flavor of the food can be changed and it won’t be as good. The texture might also change. 

Is It Possible to Freeze Canned Pinto Beans?

You shouldn’t freeze anything in a can as it can burst. The beans are packed to the top of the can and can expand when frozen. However, you can open the can and freeze the contents. However, is there any point? Canning preserves food and the cans can have a shelf life of two to three years, much longer than they would last in the freezer. However, if you open a can of pinto beans and don’t use them all, you could freeze them. In the same way, if the can is nearing the use-by date, it might be an idea to freeze them if you don’t want to use them yet.

Should You Blanch Pinto Beans Before Freezing? 

The answer to this question is yes if you are freezing uncooked pinto beans (see also Freezing Kidney Beans). If you just put them in as they are they can spoil within two weeks. If they are blanched they can last for up to six months. 

How Do You Blanch Pinto Beans?

You have a choice of two ways of blanching uncooked pinto beans.

  1. The quick-soak method.
  2. The overnight soak method.

The Quick-Soak Method

This is the fastest way to blanch uncooked pinto beans

  1. The first thing to do is to sort out your pinto beans. There may be bits of debris or stones amongst them. In addition, pick out any broken or shriveled beans as you won’t want them. Spread out the beans on a clear counter to do this. 
  2. Put the beans in a sieve and rinse them with cold water. They may be dirty or have chemicals on them.
  3. Put the beans in a pot and cover them with cold water.
  4. Cook the beans over a high heat on your stove. Get it to boiling point and then cook for around three minutes. 
  5. Take the pot off the heat and cover. Leave for an hour.
  6. Pour the beans into a sieve and drain out all the water. Then pour cold water over them and swish the beans around. Again, make sure that all the water has drained away. 
  7. Put the pinto beans into a freezer bag or container and freeze them.

The Overnight Method

  1. Sort out your beans as you would do in the quick-soak method.
  2. Rinse your beans with cold water in a sieve.
  3. Put the beans in a pot and cover them with water.
  4. Leave the beans to soak overnight or for a minimum of eight hours. This helps to eliminate the indigestible sugars that are present in pinto beans.
  5. Drain the water in a sieve. The water mustn’t be used again as it can contain harmful impurities.
  6. Put the pinto beans in either a container or a freezer bag and put them in the freezer.  

Freezing Freshly Cooked Pinto Beans

  1. Cook the pinto beans. This can take a few hours.
  2. Allow the beans to cool down at room temperature, but don’t let them stay out for longer than two hours. After this time, bacteria can start forming and you will be at risk of food poisoning. You do, however, have to ensure that the beans are completely cold before you put them into the freezer. Putting in warm beans can bring the temperature up in the freezer. If food starts to defrost and then freezes again, it can also cause bacteria to form and increase the risk of food poisoning. 

If you want to cool down your beans more quickly, divide them into small portions. However, if they still feel warm after the two hours are up, put them in the fridge until they have completely cooled down.

  1. Get out airtight containers or freezer bags and label and date them. It is too easy to forget when you freeze items of food, especially if you freeze a lot of things. We have already said that you should only freeze them for up to six months. It won’t do your health any harm if you keep them in the freezer for longer, but they might lose taste and texture. 
  2. Portion out your beans and put them in the bags or containers. It’s a good idea to portion them out into one meal servings. If you put more beans in than you need, the leftovers will only last a day or two in the fridge. Leave one-inch headspace as you need to add some liquid from your cooked beans. You can also freeze your beans in glass jars and if you do this, only fill them ¾ of the way. Freeze them standing upright.
  3. Seal your containers, jars, or bags, making sure that you get out as much air as possible. Air can cause freezer burn which can change the texture and taste of your food although it doesn’t cause any harmful effects.
  4. Put the pinto beans in your freezer.

What are the Different Ways to Freeze Pinto Beans?

There are lots of different ways to store pinto beans and we’ll tell you about them and their advantages and disadvantages.

Glass Jars

This is the most environmentally-friendly way of freezing pinto beans. You can use them again and again, unlike freezer bags which have to be discarded after one use. There’s already too much plastic in the world today.

Advantages

  • They are reusable.
  • If you are making a big meal, you can freeze a lot of beans in one jar.
  • Jars aren’t porous so they don’t absorb smells.
  • They are easy to clean.

Disadvantages

  • The beans can clump.
  • The jar could break if the temperature changes too often in the freezer.
  • Jars are bulky so can take up a lot of space, not a good idea if you only have a small freezer.

Food Grade Plastic Buckets

Advantages

  • They are reusable.
  • You can store a lot of pinto beans if needed. 

Disadvantages

  • The beans can clump.
  • The buckets can be very big so you would have to prepare a lot of beans.
  • They take up a lot of space in the freezer.
  • Plastic containers can contain harmful substances which can get into your food. This can cause illness.

Freezer Bags

Advantages

  • They are cheap.
  • You can freeze your pinto beans in small portions. This is handy if you are making a meal for just a few people.
  • They can be stacked flat in the freezer, so saving space.
  • By being stacked flat, the beans won’t clump.

Disadvantages

  • They can absorb smells and so change the flavor of the beans.
  • They can’t be reused so aren’t environmentally friendly.

Vacuum Sealed Foodsaver

Advantages

  • Because they are vacuum-sealed, all the oxygen is taken out. This means that it isn’t likely that freezer burn will occur.
  • You can get bags of different sizes so you can store as much or as little as you need in one bag
  • They are easy to store. You can store them flat which makes them easy to thaw.

Disadvantages

  • The bags aren’t reusable so aren’t environmentally friendly.
  • The bags are expensive.
  • You will need to purchase a vacuum sealer. 

Freezing Pinto Beans in a Mason Jar

Another option is a mason jar which will seal your beans safely without allowing air in. It is simple to freeze beans in a mason jar. 

  1. Either cook or blanch your beans.
  2. Put the beans into the mason jar or jars. If you have blanched them, use a slotted spoon as you don’t want the liquid to go in the jar as it can contain harmful substances. However, if you have cooked them, pour in some of the liquid. Don’t put the lids on yet.
  3. Make sure that there is a two-inch headspace as the beans may expand. 
  4. Allow the beans to cool for around an hour. As we have said, cooked food shouldn’t be left at room temperature for longer than two hours otherwise bacteria may form. 
  5. After one hour, put the mason jars in the fridge and allow them to cool down completely. This also allows the mason jars a chance to get used to a lower temperature. If you put them straight in the freezer, there is a chance that they might crack and leave a mess in your freezer.   
  6. As soon as the beans have cooled down, put the lids on the mason jars and then put them in the freezer.

Can You Leave Cooked Pinto Beans Out Overnight?

The answer to this is an emphatic no. You don’t want bacteria to grow in your pinto beans and cause you food poisoning. After you have removed the beans from the stove, allow them to cool at room temperature for up to two hours before putting them in the fridge or the freezer.  The warmth of the room is what allows natural bacteria to grow in the food. 

What is the Shelf Life Of Cooked Pinto Beans in the Freezer?

Cooked pinto beans can last for up to 6 months in the freezer. Any longer and the flavor may deteriorate although it won’t be harmful. Out of interest, cooked pinto beans can keep for five to seven days in the fridge.

How Do You Use Thawed Pinto Beans?

If your thawed pinto beans have already been cooked, all you have to do is add them to a recipe as they only need to be heated up. However, if your thawed pinto beans are blanched and not cooked, it is best to cook them for 60 to 90 minutes and then add them to your recipe.

Because of the threat of bacteria being present in your beans, make sure that you cook them until they reach an internal temperature of 167 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plan not to thaw the beans and just throw them in the dish, then this is very important. However, if your recipe is very quick and you are worried that the beans won’t reach the right temperature, it is advisable to thaw them out first.

Recipe for a Spicy Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ yellow pepper
  • 1 cup soya mince
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jar taco sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups frozen and cooked pinto beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the diced onion and the diced red and yellow pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften.
  2. Add the soya mince and the vegetable stock and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili and mix well. Sprinkle in the salt and the pepper.
  4. Add the jar of taco sauce and stir well.
  5. Add the beans and the corn. The corn won’t take long to defrost. 
  6. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes and then the chili is done.

You can serve the chili with rice, guacamole, and sour cream. In addition, you can sprinkle grated cheese on top. An alternative is to use the chili in enchiladas. Wrap the chili in the enchiladas and pour on salsa (see also How To Freeze Salsa) and grated cheese. Warm in the oven until the cheese melts. Serve with guacamole and sour cream (see also Can You Freeze Sour Cream). 

There are plenty of other recipes in which you could use pinto beans. Why not make a pinto bean soup or add other beans and vegetables to the soup. Make a salad with pinto beans and roasted vegetables. For the vegetarians and vegans out there (see also How To Freeze Jackfruit), pinto bean burgers will be a treat. You could also make a pinto bean, nut, and mushroom loaf.  

What are the Ways of Defrosting Frozen Pinto Beans?

When it comes to defrosting frozen pinto beans, there are three ways of doing this and this does not include defrosting them on your counter. It would take too long and bacteria could develop if left for many hours. The three different ways are the fridge, the microwave, and the stove.

The Fridge

The fridge is the safest way to defrost your frozen pinto beans. It allows the beans to defrost slowly, but at a low temperature which will not encourage bacteria to grow. 

Take your pinto beans out of the freezer and put them in the fridge for between two and three days. They will be completely defrosted by then and ready to add to your recipes. They will last for five to seven days in the fridge.

The Microwave

If you are going to use the microwave to defrost your pinto beans, it is advisable to freeze them in a microwave-safe container. If you put them in bags, the beans may stick to the bag when they are frozen and you won’t be able to get them out of the bag. 

Defrost the beans using the defrost setting. It is advisable to use them in a recipe straight away and not put them in the fridge as they won’t last long.

The Stove

Put your frozen pinto beans in a pot and warm them through on a low to medium heat. Make sure that they are thoroughly defrosted. Then you can add them to your recipe. It won’t take long for them to warm up to the correct temperature. If, however, you are creating a dish that takes a long time to cook, you can add your frozen pinto beans directly into the pot. They should then thaw and cook properly.

Is it Possible to Reheat Pinto Beans?

Yes, it is possible to reheat pinto beans. Perhaps you thawed frozen beans in the fridge and then used them in a soup. You may have made too much so what do you do with the leftovers? You can put them in the fridge and then reheat them within the next couple of days.

There are three ways that you can use to reheat your pinto beans and we’ll tell you about them here.

  • The stove. Put the beans in a pot and cook over a low to medium heat. You may have to add a little water to stop them from burning.
  • The microwave.  Put the beans in a microwave-safe dish and heat on high heat for one minute. Stir and then heat for another minute. If they seem dry, add a bit of water.
  • The oven or slow cooker. If you put your beans in the oven at a medium heat, they should warm through within 15 minutes. If you put them in the slow cooker, leave them for up to six hours. However, if you only want the beans for tacos or a salad, use the microwave or the stove. The oven or slow cooker is best for soups and stews.

Summary

Pinto beans, like all beans, are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which are good for your health. It is a good idea to add beans to your diet on a regular basis. You can buy them in cans, but it is more economical to buy dried beans as you get so much more for your money. Yes, they take some time to prepare as we have explained, but it is worth it in the long run. They won’t have the preservatives you get in canned beans so they are going to be more healthy. It is a good idea to cook your pinto beans in large quantities and then you can portion them out into freezer bags or containers to freeze. Make sure that they will just be suitable for one or two meals so that you won’t have too much leftover. 

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