Healthy, nutritious, and delicious, pinto beans are a popular food choice. And, the good news is that both uncooked and cooked pinto beans are freezer-safe.
But, this is only if you store them the right way.
Cooked pinto beans can last around five months in the freezer. When freezing uncooked and dried pinto beans, blanch them beforehand; otherwise, they will last only two weeks.
Freezing beans is a sustainable way of storing food.
It reduces food waste and helps preserve the food’s freshness and quality. These beans are a popular choice, especially in dishes from Mexican cuisine.
They change their color from beige to brown or pale pink when cooked.
Can You Freeze Pinto Beans (Fresh, Cooked, Canned)?
To freeze fresh, uncooked pinto beans, it’s essential to blanch them to prolong their freshness. Blanching is important for most veggies before they go into the freezer.
This process slows down or stops the enzyme action which could lead to the loss of the veggie’s color, texture, and flavor. The time of blanching is also crucial and it depends on the veggie and the size and amount.
For this technique, you briefly immerse the veggie in hot oil or boiling water. The most common foods that are blanched are veggies, nuts, fruits, and legumes.
Here are three common ways of preparing pinto beans for the freezer:
After they’ve been washed, the pinto beans, depending on the size, need to be blanched.
The smaller ones need around two minutes while the medium and large ones need three to four minutes. Leave them to cool down and transfer them to a freezer bag.
But this method is usually done when you want to keep bugs at bay rather than for preservation.
They usually do well in raw form without being frozen. Without blanching or cooking, they can last like this in the freezer for two weeks.
Cooked pinto beans can be frozen and preserve their flavor, taste, and texture for up to six months.
Since cooking them does take time, it’s a great idea to cook pinto beans in batches and freeze them.
In this way, you’ll have them ready for any recipe that calls for this type of beans. To cook a batch, rinse the beans to remove any dirt or debris.
Soak them in water overnight. Then, strain them and boil them in a pot of water. Bring them to a boiling point before lowering the heat. Cook for two hours in total.
The soft, cooked beans should be strained and left to cool down and then stored in freezer-safe bags or containers.
Canned pinto beans that haven’t been opened don’t need to be additionally preserved by being placed in the freezer. They will do just fine in the can.
However, if you have leftover canned pinto beans (the can is opened), don’t freeze them inside the can.
Instead, transfer them into a freezer-safe bag or a container.
They will offer optimal quality for around two months; but, they will still be safe for consumption beyond this period.
Pinto beans which are kept frozen at 0 degrees F remain safe for an indefinite amount of time.
What Are the Best Tips for Freezing & Thawing Pinto Beans?
As with any other food, knowing how to store it properly helps maintain its quality and safety. Here are a few essential tips that you should know to ensure the best pinto bean freezing method:
- Forget about overheating
If you overcook pinto beans, they will split and mush up.
Cook them enough so that they keep their texture through the freezing.
Cook them on low heat and add the beans last when cooking them with other foods, some five to ten minutes before the end of the cooking.
- Save their texture
Did you know that an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar at the end of the cooking of the pinto beans will help maintain their freshness?
Add a tsp or two into the pot shortly before the dish is ready. Avoid adding it too soon because it may prevent the beans from cooking optimally.
- Wait for the pinto beans to cool down
When freezing all leftovers, not just pinto beans, cooling them prior to freezing helps speed up the freezing in the freezer. This is also crucial for the safety of the food.
The freezing prevents bad bacteria and averts freezer burn.
By following this practice, the beans won’t heat up other foods in the freezer and cause them to thaw and refreeze.
You don’t want this to happen because it may decrease their quality. If you have a larger batch, divide the beans into several containers, instead of putting it all in one big.
This isn’t just easier for storage, but also speeds up the cooling and eases the process of taking out the food.
- Give your pinto beans space
When storing pinto beans in a container for the freezer, make sure you leave some space between the top and the beans.
This is to enable liquids to expand as the content freezes and prevents the food from getting mashed.
- Gradually reheat
To prevent your frozen beans from splitting, don’t reheat them at the highest temperature.
Thaw them in the fridge or at room temperature. When reheating pinto beans, make sure you do it on low heat or below the simmering point.
Another thawing option is to put the beans in a bowl of warm water for a short period. The microwave is another option, but if you do this, cook them right afterward.
Heat them on high for a minute and then stir them and heat for half a minute or until they’re fully thawed.
How to Use & Prepare Pinto Beans?
Pinto beans are a versatile ingredient that provides you with protein and fiber. It makes an excellent addition to soups, stews, and other foods.
Their creamy center and nutty and earthy taste make them a staple in a long list of cuisines. And, you can use and prepare them in a variety of ways.
You can cook them in an instant pot within an hour or opt for the slow cooker. If you don’t have any of these two options, the traditional way on the stovetop with the previous soaking is always a safe bet.
You can soak the cleaned beans pinto beans overnight in a bowl of water and salt at room temperature. For a quicker soak, add the beans to a big pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook for two minutes.
Then, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave the beans to soak for an hour.
Pinto beans are an amazing food: they’re rich in nutrients, healthy, and versatile. And, you needn’t waste any of your leftover pinto beans!
They’re freezer-friendly and you can preserve them in this way by following the dos and don’ts that we’ve shared.
If you have cooked pinto beans that you want to freeze, they can remain fresh and safe for consumption for up to five months.
Freezing pinto beans doesn’t just encourage sustainable food storage, but it also preserves the food quality and taste.