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May 15, 2010 10:39 PM

Freezing beans - cooked or just pre-soaked?

If I freeze beans when they've only been pre-soaked, or will they get mushy? Would it be better to cook them first as well? I was hoping to keep them just ready to go for recipes, but I've never frozen beans before except in pureed soups and have no idea what the consistency will be when they're defrosted.

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  1. After reading recommendations from Mark Bittman about freezing beans, I've been cooking up about a pound at a time, and freezing most of them cooked. I put them in plastic zip top bags with some of the liquid, and lay them flat to freeze. Then they can stack in the freezer easily, and I just pop the plastic bag in some water to defrost the beans in about ten minutes. I have also done it in glass jars, but that makes defrosting take a lot longer. I haven't noticed a major textural difference (especially in comparison to canned beans, dried cooked and frozen ones are much better texture and taste wise to me).

    1. freeze the cooked beans. they hold up fine.

      1. I regularly freeze cooked beans to use later. They will thaw out just fine.

        1. Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear - I'd rather NOT cook them first, but just freeze them as is. Will that be problematic?

          6 Replies
          1. re: thursday

            If you're talking about dried beans that have been soaked, as I think you are, I don't know how well they would freeze. Seems like--and I'm no food scientist, just my impressions--they wouldn't freeze well in that state; seems they's be too full of water. If you were going to make soup or maybe refried beans, maybe it wouldn't matter.

            I routinely freeze fresh shelled beans, just as they are, when they are available at the Farmer's Market--butter and lima beans, red kidney beans, crowder and field peas. I'm not sure this would work for all beans, and I don't know what type you're referring to, but it works for those.

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              "If you're talking about dried beans that have been soaked,"

              Yup, that's what I mean. I pre-soaked some pintos, kidneys, and black beans and was hoping to freeze them in that state so they'd be ready to go for recipes. No good?

              1. re: thursday

                I agree that you should cook before freezing. I never presoak beans anyway. Next time, you might just eliminate that step.

                1. re: MazDee

                  I didn't use to soak but do it more now. Seasoning the soaking water has proved to me how much flavor one can get into the bean

                2. re: thursday

                  I would think that your presoaked but uncooked beans would a.) lose some moisture due to sublimation in the freezer and b.) lose some of the moisture from the beans upon thawing, which would negate the benefits of presoaking.

                  1. re: thursday

                    I soak and freeze beans regularly. Saves me so much time! The beans are ready to go when I want them. i have found no problems with mushiness or other textural problems. I must admit that I only have done this with black beans, because those are the beans I cook.

              2. my thought is that the benefit of dried beans is that they are *not* taking up space in our freezer. i'd just use the quick soak method -- though i don't think the beans get as soft as with a regular soak.....

                hmm, i wonder if you could partially cook them and freeze....? why didn't you want to have the cooked beans in the freezer? so they can "incorporate" into the recipe?

                3 Replies
                1. re: alkapal

                  "why didn't you want to have the cooked beans in the freezer? so they can "incorporate" into the recipe?"

                  Yup, this. Sometimes I'll make them into a cold salad with fresh veggies and a lemon juice dressing; sometimes I'll make them into a hearty soup with ham, sage, etc., sometimes I'll make them spicier...I prefer to cook them with some of the spices I'm going to include instead of just with water, so if I cook them all up now, I'm afraid the final result won't be great.

                  Ah well. It seems the consensus is that they have to be cooked to be frozen, and since they're all pre-soaked already, I'm going to start bacteria growth if I don't do something with them soon. I guess I should have asked this question before I pre-soaked 5 pounds of beans...

                  1. re: thursday

                    freeze some and cook some up in a good pot of stew. it's soup weather here in northern virginia (rainy and cool).

                    let us know how the frozen pre-soaked worked out. a perfect opportunity!

                    1. re: thursday

                      but they still need to be cooked even for salad applications, otherwise they're just not dried any longer, but they are stil hard and raw