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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

                  2. they need to be cooked first. the point is to have them at your avail the way you would canned beans, so if they were not cooked, you'd be tacking on an extra 1-2 hours of cook time to the actual recipe time.

                    dried beans are a 3 part process:
                    soak time: approx overnight, or 1 hour quick soak.
                    cook time: approx 1-2hrs depending on bean and quantity
                    recipe time: where you add in the ingredients and make the dish.

                    with tham already soaked ant cooked in your freezer, extra time would only be maybe pulling it out of the freezer in the morning to thaw, or popping it into a sink of water while you prep, or microwaving

                    1. I got a tip in a food column on Danish Public Radio the other day. As an aside in a hummus recipe, the presenter noted that a scientist friend of his always froze soaked beans before cooking, resulting in a much faster subsequent cooking time.

                      I guess this qualifies as a kind of cryo-blanching, with the ice crystals poking holes in the beans, thereby softening them. In that case, it might be worth putting the beans through several freeze-thaw phases to optimize the results. (You'd obviously still have to cook the beans to render harmless the lectins.)

                      Yesterday I froze (slow)soaked, uncooked brown beans in a zip-lock bag with enough of the soaking liquid to cover. The thawed beans cooked notably faster than unfrozen beans from the same batch and I didn't notice any major decline in quality, except perhaps for slightly looser skins. Obviously, one batch is not enough to draw any conclusions, so I'll try to split batches of soaked beans whenever I cook them in the future.

                      In any case, I can't see any reason that you'd have to cook beans in order to freeze them if you'd rather not.

                      Erik, Denmark

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tarka

                        Every day is a school day.

                        Thanks tarka.

                      2. It is not necessary to soak beans. This would definitely ease storage before cooking. I have been experimenting with this for years and they cook up fine without presoaking.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: shrimp13

                          I think the idea is to have beans that cook quickly. Unless you use a pressure cooker, unsoaked beans take at least a couple of hours to cook.

                            1. re: shrimp13

                              OK, folks, the reason for soaking beans has nothing to do with flavor, or cooking. The purpose of soaking is to remove the phytic acid coating, which is there to prevent the bean from spoiling prior to sprouting when it falls on the ground. A rainfall neutralizes this coating and the bean sprouts. Beans, many types of nuts (raw almonds), and seeds need about 7-12 hours of soaking, with a little lemon juice or other acidic liquid, to neutralize the phytic acid. If you don't remove this, it interferes with absorption of minerals in the intestine, and causes other gastric distress in many people. This is the main reason for buying your beans dry, then soaking them before cooking and eating.

                              1. re: djposs

                                DH and I will follow your advice on the next cooking of dried beans using the pressure cooker method.

                                To reiterate: We wiill used room temperature water with added lemon juice to cover the beans overnight. (8 hours)

                                Our appreciation.

                                1. re: djposs

                                  acid makes it harder for beans to soften.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    I agree--soaking (and draining and rinsing) beans before cooking makes for better nutritional and digestive qualities, but acid in the soak water will make the beans a little tougher in the end. And freezing soaked beans before cooking works just fine, IMO.

                              2. re: tarka

                                not true. I never use a pressure cooker and beans, depending on type are often done in 1.5 hours.

                            2. I regularly freeze soaked, but not cooked beans. I have had no issues with texture or flavor.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                Do you have to add liquid to freeze soaked-but-not-cooked beans? In my case, it's red kidney beans. I've already tossed the soaking liquid...oops?

                                1. re: Leilah

                                  I add liquid to the cooked red kidney beans that I freeze. I normally more than enough liquid as I pressure cook my beans; when I pressure cook beans, I use a lot of water.

                              2. I freeze presoaked. They are fine.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: rasputina

                                  Interesting. I'm intrigued by this... does it change the cooking time or the ultimate taste or texture that you can tell?

                                  Also, what is the advantage to this? I assume it's so you can just grab the beans and cook them at your convenience because the soaking overnight part has already been taken care of. But, don't you just lose some of that convenience because now you have to take the time to defrost?

                                  Curious! Thank you!

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Well, your first question is answered further up the thread--I think it's a) to have the pre-soaked beans available for various types of cooking applications which may vary in time; b) it came out that apparently pre-soaked and frozen beans cook more quickly than those just soaked. That may matter to some and not to others.

                                    I stumbled on this helpful thread while researching 'freezing cooked beans' because I live alone and like to make a taco salad with black beans in it. I may want a third of can per salad, and they don't keep well in the fridge. (Don't get me started on how angry I am they've stopped making small cans of many things, including beans..) Also canned ones aren't as good as soaked and cooked.

                                    So, I'm pleased to learn I can soak & cook a bag and then freeze right sized portions for salads, soups or other dishes I might make.

                                    1. re: Karen Mickleson

                                      I heard Bittman of 'How To Cook Everything' fame on NPR the other day. FWIW he said it doesn't matter whether you soak overnight or not--that a 5 minute boil followed by an hour soak, then gentle simmer for an hour does just as well. Humm.

                                        1. re: Karen Mickleson

                                          I do that when I didn't have time or foresight to soak over night and it works just fine

                                  2. Last year I blanched my beans and then froze them. However, when I cooked them they were soggy. What did I do wrong? When blanching, do you count the minute as soon as the beans drop into the boiling water or do you wait until the water returns to a boil and then count a minute. Could I be putting to many beans in each pot as I blanch? I've got my first picking of beans and I don't want to have the same results this year.