A Tutorial: How to Cook Dried Beans to Freeze

Posted · 60 Comments

beans

In this family, we eat beans.  Particularly, navy, garbanzo, pinto, lentil, black and kidney.

I use beans in salads, burritos, with morning eggs, tossed into quick sauteed vegetables, and of course in stews throughout the winter.

For stews, I soak my beans the night before and add them to the meal to soften as it cooks. However, for many other morning or lunch meals, I need them already softened… ready to go.

Before my oldest son was born, I bought cans. Many cans of beans every week.

They were quick and easy. Open a can, use them… voila.  Instant beans, per se.

Then I learned about BPA. Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that is used to make certain plastics and resins. Plastics and resins made with BPA can leach into the containing food and acts as an environmental estrogen. Once ingested it effects our brain disrupting proper hormone functioning. It alters genes and interferes with normal physical and behavioral development. You can see why this is particularly damaging to fetuses, infants and children.

It’s been controversial for some time, however, the FDA now shares a level of concern and many companies are going bpa free.

Unfortunately, finding BPA free cans of beans can be difficult and quite expensive. For beans, I’m only aware of Eden Organics and at almost $2 a can, well… not frugal by any means.

But really, why even worry about BPA when you can cook dried beans in batches and freeze them at home to quickly use throughout the week. It’s simple and cheap.

How to Cook Dried Beans to Freeze

Freezing Dried Beans

Making your own canned beans in batches is very frugal.  You can buy a small bag of beans, equal to 2 cups, for $2.  For smaller sized beans like pinto or black, this equals to about 4 – 5 pints (cans) of beans when cooked.  For larger sized beans like kidney, this equals to 5 pints (cans) of beans when cooked.

That’s a huge savings and quite an incentive to make your own BPA free cans of beans.

Step 1.  Soak your beans overnight.

beans_soaking

Step 2. Drain and rinse your beans.

rinsing_beans

(It’s so simple, it makes a great project for the kids!)

nehe_hands

Step 3.  Add your beans to stockpot and cover by 2″ of water.  To my black or pinto beans, I generally add sliced onions to the pot as well.

Bring to a boil on the stovetop and remove any scum that floats on top.  Lower the heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.

*Soft beans, including lentils only need about 45 minutes to cook through and I personally do not soak them overnight.

pots

Step 4: Once the beans have softened, with a slotted spoon, add the beans to mason jars allowing 2″ headspace.  Once you’ve separated all of the beans, add the cooking liquid to cover.

Allow the beans to cool completely, preferably in the refrigerator, before freezing or the glass will crack. (Been there, done that!)

Step 5: Freeze.  Once completely cooled, place your mason jars in the freezer without the lids on.  This will allow the volume to expand.

*If you’ll be freezing in freezer bags, allow the beans to cool completely before adding to the bags and freezing.

For 50¢ a can of organic bpa free beans, you just can’t beat that!

Seasoning Your Beans

This is where your preference comes in.  Some season, some don’t.  

I usually don’t since I add my seasonings, including salt, to the beans when I use them in my dishes.  These are just my quick, go to beans.

Some people, however, will add some olive oil and saute some onions and seasonings in their stockpot before adding the beans and water to cook.  Experiment, have fun!

Can I Use a Crockpot?

Absolutely!  Just make sure to set your crockpot on low for at least 8 hours or until tender.

Some Hearty Bean Recipes:

Frijoles Rancheros, Mexican Ranch Style Beans

Baked Beans from Scratch

Lentejas Con Chorizo, Lentils with Spanish Chorizo Sausage

Puchero Andaluz, Andalusian Stew with Garbanzo Beans

Repollo Con Garbanzos, Cabbage Stew with Chick Peas

Chicharos Con Chorizo- White Bean Stew with Spanish Chorizo Sausage

 

Do you cook dried beans in batches to freeze?  Please feel free to share any bean recipes in the comments below :)

 

60 Responses to "A Tutorial: How to Cook Dried Beans to Freeze"
  1. I add a whole bunch of beans to my taco meat. It’s a clever way to stretch the meat and my family loves it! http://www.simplifylivelove.com/2011/12/taco-meat-for-a-crowd-or-the-freezer.html

  2. And taco soup is one of my super easy, go-to recipes for busy nights: http://www.simplifylivelove.com/2011/11/taco-soup-my-go-to-meal.html

  3. I guess these aren’t recipes for cooking beans per se, but rather what to do with cooked beans… hope that’s ok! :-)

  4. I take dried beans and can them. I don’t always have the foresight to soak and cook for a meal so it works better for me that way. I just pick up about 4lbs and do a canner load at a time.

  5. zazacook says:

    It’s a good idea to cook Dried Beans and freeze them:) I just cooked Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs yesterday.

  6. I love hummus – so I cook a batch of chickpeas and either freeze them, or throw them in a food processor with lots of garlic, lemon juice & zest, and salt to make an easy hummus. Then I freeze that :)

  7. Sheri says:

    This is brilliant. I’ll be doing this from now on, we eat a lot of beans and I usually just pressure cook them. But this is spiffy. Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Glad to see you included the crock pot method! I, too, used to buy canned beans thinking the soaking and cooking process was too involved. But when you can combine the soaking and cooking and leave it unattended, you can’t go wrong!

  9. Sara says:

    If you freeze in freezer bags do you also include some of the cooking water or just put the beans themselves in the bags? Thanks!

    Also, I’ve heard that adding a 1″ piece of kombu (a type of seaweed) makes the beans less gassy!

  10. shannan says:

    It’s funny to see this post because our family consumes lots of beans as well. I used to freeze beans and well, but this past fall I learned how to pressure can the beans and it’s great. I spend most of my winter months stocking-piling my pressure canning stores like beans, chicken stock, soups, etc and that way I can use the summer months to preserve what I grow. And if I forget to take something out fo the freezer (which I always do), having it ready on the shelf is great!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Shannan, thanks for the comment. I really want to learn how to pressure can. I would love to be able to do that with beans especially now that I’m growing so many during the gardening season. Hopefully I can learn this year :D Have a great weekend!

  11. Tiffany says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I was just wondering last night if there was a way to freeze beans 8(and not end up with soggy beans when they thaw). I can’t wait to try it!

  12. Libby Leatherwood says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have never tried to can beans before, but I will now. I am interested in anything that I can put up myself. Groceries are outragious and not to mention the long list of ingedients that have been added to preserve and who knows what else. Thanks again for sharing this with us!!

  13. Sandra says:

    Yes, we prepare beans to freeze but we use a pressure cooker to cook our beans and they only take 20 minutes. A Fagor pressure cooker is the most efficient. We add onion, peppers and garlic.
    When you heat or cook your beans, put a wooden spoon over the pot so that it will NOT boil over.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Excellent post- you’re converting this canned beans user!! A question, though- you say that lentils “and other soft beans” only need to cook for 45 mins. I have no idea what constitutes a hard or soft bean. Would you mind listing whatever beans you use and their cooking times? I’d rather find out from you than find out by trial and error, lol
    Thanks again for a great post :)

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Thanks for the comment Stephanie. A soft bean is pretty much a bean that doesn’t have as long of a cooking time and really not recommended for pressure canning. They take about 45 minutes to cook through and include lentils, split peas, black eyed peas and mung beans. The harder beans take much longer to cook about 1.5 hours and include pinto, red beans, navy, great northern, black, lima… to name a few. Hope that helps! Let us know how they turn out :D

  15. nata says:

    Can I use left over jars from tomato sause ? Trying to switch from all plastic containers to glass, but they very expensive.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Of course. What I’ve been using lately is just ziplock freezer bags. I let the beans cool completely before putting them in the bags. It saves me tons of room in the freezer!

    • LeAnna C says:

      I have a great one for you. small mouth jar lids fit the jars that Alfredo sauce comes, My mom saves them and cans with them and I picked up on the idea. Great way to save money on canning jars since you have to buy them anyways!hope’s this helps!

  16. kelly says:

    thanks so much for this post! couple questions: do you leave them in the freezer without a lid till you use them and, if so, do they not get freezer burn? also, what’s the best/quickest way to defrost them in the canning jars? thanks!!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Kelly, if I’m using a canning jar I make sure the beans are completely cooled. I’ll then place them in the freezer without a lid but once they’re frozen, I’ll cap them. So make sure to leave at least 1″ headspace in the top of the jar. To defrost them, I’ll either set them on my counter or put them in the fridge the night before. Also, dropping them in a bowl of hot water defrosts them really quickly as well.

  17. Kele says:

    Thanks for your great tips! I’ve been trying to transition to dried beans, but I’m terrible at remembering to soak them the night before I need them and I find myself going back to cans just for the convenience of it. This should help lots!!

    How long do you think it’s okay to store the beans in the freezer once they’re frozen?

  18. Dana says:

    I’m pressure canning pinto beans this morning, and I prepared WAY more than my canner will hold. I was looking for the best way to freeze them and found your post. You’re a lifesaver. Thanks!

  19. Michelle says:

    Hey Diana! Thanks for these tips! We are missionaries here in Extremadura, Spain, so the title of your blog jumped out at me. :) We have a bunch of good friends down in Sevilla, but we are in tiny little Cáceres. :) Just wanted to say thanks for the post. There are so many things I cannot get here, but I have really appreciated learning to make everything from scratch! … I don’t know that we can even find canned beans here. I can find them in glass jars, which I guess is much healthier (although, I think everything here in Spain is healthier!), but dried beans are much cheaper. Thanks again for the post.
    Michelle

  20. This is so helpful, thank you! I recently switched to dry beans from canned and have been worried about not having beans ready to use since it takes time to soak/cook them when dried. I’m definitely going to do this with a couple types of beans we use a lot. I pinned it too :)

  21. Ronda Cupler says:

    I love this thank you. I’m just a little confused regarding #5. After I put beans and fluid into the jars leaving room to expand I put in the freezer with no lid? Do I eventually put the kids on the jars that are in the freezer?????
    I appriciste your answer.
    Ronda

  22. Rebekah says:

    This is so great! My husband and I are just starting to do this for lunches. He wants to be in charge of this so I will have him read up!

  23. Andrea says:

    This is totally the missing link for me and beans! I have one question – do the jars need to be sterilized first? Or do you ink it’s ok to just put them in the dish washer…

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Andrea, I usually wash them before I use them, however, for my beans, I’ve started to let them cool completely and then package them in freezer bags. I’ve had too many broken jars lately, which is probably due to re-using them too often.

  24. Gina says:

    Have you ever taken them out of the freezer to thaw, used some, and then refrozen them in the same jar? I have large canning jars, so I’m hoping they can be refrozen once thawed. Thanks

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Gina, no, I can’t imagine that would be a good idea. If I only use a half can, or about a cup of beans, I’ll save the rest in the fridge and use them in a salad, over rice, mixed in with other veggies, or even a burrito throughout the week.

  25. hoover says:

    I use freezer bags, but lay them flat to freeze. When thoroughly frozen they can be stacked or stood upright to save freezer space.

  26. Peggy S says:

    OOPS! I already drained my cooking water! Was trying to cool them down quicker and stop them from cooking. I guess I will try to add regular tap water? We’ll see how that works…

    I was trying to get rid of some of the more unpleasant after-effects of bean eating which is usually from the water, or so I thought.

    I’ve always just made what I needed but today decided to make a bunch to freeze since I seem to keep forgetting to soak until about 4:30! UGH!

  27. H says:

    I too freeze beans. It’s just as easy as opening a can with simple planning ahead. This goes for all homemade food. After mine are cooked I drain and then lay them out on a parchment paper lined sheet tray freezing them that way. This method produces beans that are separate opposed to being one solid mass of beans. I then am able to scoop a cup here and there for recipes.

  28. Patti says:

    I’ve been freezing beans in single-portion-sized bags for years but want to switch to using larger glass jars to avoid going through all of the potentially harmful plastic, and to save space by having all of them in the same place.
    I just tried your method, but the beans are all stuck together in a mass, which is inconvenient because I can’t take out as many as I need for each meal.
    Does anyone know if the only way to avoid this by freezing them individually on a baking sheet? I ask because I have a small freezer and this would be difficult.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Patti, If I’m saving in glass jars, I save 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans and fill it with enough of its broth to equal 2 cups. This ratio is about what a typical can would be and what you would need for a recipe. I then take it out and defrost it, and the beans all separate themselves out. If I do have a bit extra, I save it in the fridge for lunches.

  29. Patti says:

    Thanks, I hadn’t thought of the broth or defrost option!

  30. Cathy says:

    You can pressure cook beans to have in quart or pint jars- just like buying a can of beans, but without the BPA. and the freezer place used up, not to mention the thawing time needed for defrost. A great way to use up old beans that are starting to get tough, too. (just soak them longer prior to cooking and canning). http://www.ehow.com/how_5844987_pressure-can-dry-pinto-beans.html

  31. Thank you so much for this! I was searching the internet for how to prepare beans to freeze, and stumbled upon your site. It looks like we actually have a LOT in common, lol!! Can’t wait to see what else you have here :)

  32. Nate says:

    Kroger sells organic canned beans for $1/can (I think it’s a sale price, but the sale seems to always be going on). Organic canned foods are required to use BPA-free packaging. That’s what I’ve been using for a while now, but I’m needing to save money so I’m going to try preparing dry beans at home.

  33. Ellen says:

    I was looking for some expertize on freezing beans and found your site. Great site, just what I wanted. Thanks. Ellen , AR

  34. What a great post! We love to cook and freeze beans for soups, stews and just because! I’ve pinned this and also shared it on my FB fan page so even more people can discover how easy and economical it is to cook and freeze your own beans! Blessings, Kelly

  35. Paul says:

    I have been trying to find answers to the following questions. Can you help? Do the plastic bags the dry beans come in contain BPA? If so, will any BPA on the beans rinse off the dry beans when preparing for soaking?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Paul, I wouldn’t worry about the plastic bag having bpa simply because in order for bpa to leach from the bag it has to be heated. Since their dried, it should be no problem.

  36. Hannah says:

    Hi Diana,
    I am really enjoying your website. Thank you for sharing with us. :)
    I wanted to share this wonderful black bean recipe that I discovered and now use all of the time…it makes the most delicious black beans for Mexican dishes. I always double the recipe (except for the cayenne).
    http://www.motherearthliving.com/food-and-recipes/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/freezable-black-beans-recipe-zmoz13jazmel.aspx#axzz2cF52D3aR

  37. Melissa says:

    Diana, could you elaborate a bit more on the Ziploc bag method? I have a tiny freezer as well and jars just wont do lol I plan on only filling the bags with enough beans to equal your typical can, but what I’m a bit confused on is do you add the water as well? And if so how much head space should I leave? Thanks

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Melissa, I’ve been using ziplock bags for over a year now. This is what I do. I allow the beans to cool completely. Once cooled, I put 1 1/2 cups of beans per bag. Then I fill it up with the liquid from the beans until it just covers them. I then squeeze out as much air as I can and freeze them. Super simple and no more cracked jars!

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