Kidney beans, whether dried or canned, are a staple in every kitchen. Many prefer stocking up on canned beans because they are easy and keep longer. Others prefer to buy a bag of dried beans and cook whenever needed.
But can you freeze kidney beans? The answer is yes. You can freeze kidney beans, whether they are dried, cooked, or canned. Cooking and freezing kidney beans is slightly time-consuming but it is worth it. Freezing canned beans is also a great solution for saving leftover canned beans.
In this article, you will learn all about freezing kidney beans. From cooking methods to defrosting and, we have covered it all.
Freezing Dry Kidney Beans
Technically, you can freeze dried kidney beans. However, their shelf life is quite long.
Dried kidney beans will last for years in your pantry if kept in proper conditions. You need to keep them in a tightly closed bag or container in a dry and cool place.
The beans will retain their best qualities for 2 to 3 years. However, if you have maintained good conditions, they will be safe for use even after 3 years.
If you do want to freeze dry kidney beans, wash the beans removing all the dirt, stones, debris, and any beans that look bad.
Let the beans dry on a paper towel or washcloth, pour beans in an airtight container or bag, and put it in the freezer.
How to Cook Kidney Beans Before Freezing
Cooking and freezing dried beans is easy. If you are someone that has always used canned dried beans, the process may seem long and tedious.
However, there is nothing complicated in cooking and freezing kidney beans on yourself if you follow a few simple steps that guarantee good results.
Taking your time to prepare the beans is important. As you will be using the beans as they are after taking them out of the freezer, make sure to clean and wash them thoroughly.
Sort through the beans and remove the bad ones. Remove any small stones and loose skins. Rinse the beans a few times until the water runs crystal clear.
Cooking Kidney Beans
Once you have cleaned and washed the beans, it’s time for cooking.
There are two ways of cooking kidney beans. They differ in soaking and cooking time. Thus, use the method that fits your schedule.
Method 1 – The first method is the ‘long soak’ method.
- Pour the beans into a pot filled with water. Leave the beans to soak for at least 6 hours. You can leave the beans in water overnight if you don’t need them cooked on the same day.
- After soaking the beans, rinse them and pour fresh water into the pot. The water should cover the beans for a few inches (2-3).
- Bring the water to boil and let the beans simmer. Keep the pot covered.
Method 2 – The second method of cooking the beans requires shorter soaking time.
- Cover the beans with water. For 1 cup of dried beans pour 5 cups of water.
- Cover the pot and boil the beans for up to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for an hour or two.
- Turn on the heat and let the beans simmer until cooked.
The cooking time for both methods depends on the beans. It may take you from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. The older the beans are the more time they will take to cook.
We recommend trying the beans after simmering them for 25 minutes to see when they are ready. If left on the heat for long, the beans will crack and become mushy.
Freezing Kidney Beans
If you have prepared and cooked the beans properly, freezing the beans should not affect the taste and texture of the beans negatively.
Here is a step by step guide on how to freeze kidney beans.
- Once the beans are cooked, drain them and rinse with cold water.
- Divide the beans into portions. One or two cups of beans in each bag or container will be convenient for later use.
- Put the beans in airtight sealable bags or plastic containers. Make sure to leave some space as the liquid in the beans will expand in the freezer.
- Label the bag with the date and amount of the beans in each bag or container.
Some people prefer freezing the beans with some of the liquid they have been cooking in. Doing this is suitable for those who are planning to use the beans on their own.
You can pull the frozen kidney beans in their liquid out of the freezer and reheat them as is.
The Benefits of Cooking and Freezing Dried Beans
Canned kidney beans are easy and handy whenever you need a quick dinner. However, spending some extra time on cooking and freezing kidney beans yourself has considerable benefits.
While canned beans are not too expensive, buying a bag of dried kidney beans, cooking, and freezing them for later use is much cheaper.
Cooking the beans does require time, especially when you compare it with just opening a can and pouring the beans into a pot.
Cooking beans doesn’t require much effort. And though it takes time, most of it is unattended.
Thus, with spending an extra hour you get more beans for later use with less money than you’d spend on a few cans of beans.
When cooking and freezing the kidney beans, you can decide on how much you are going to freeze in each plastic bag or container.
If you are cooking for one person, your portions may be smaller. If you are cooking for a big family, the portions may be larger than two cans of kidney beans. Lastly, you can freeze the beans in different portions and use as much as you need for the occasion.
Considering that canned beans come in standard sizes, being able to control the portions of how much you use is quite convenient.
Reduced Sodium Intake
If you are trying to control your sodium intake, then cooked and frozen kidney beans should replace canned beans in your kitchen.
There is added sodium in canned kidney beans that you would want to avoid.
When cooking and freezing kidney beans on your own, it is best to leave out the salt and add it in the recipe you will be using the beans for.
How to Freeze Canned Kidney Beans
If you have opened a can of kidney beans and not used all of it, you can easily save them.
- Drain the beans.
- Rinse with cold water.
- Put the beans in an airtight container or bag.
- Mark the date.
Adding water to canned beans when freezing them is a matter of preference.
How Long Can You Keep Kidney Beans in the Freezer
You can keep cooked kidney beans in the cold storage for up to 6 months. If you haven’t cooked the beans all the way through and have just soaked them and frozen, you can use them within 4 months.
Canned kidney beans will keep shorter in the fridge. It is best to use them within a month after putting them in the freezer.
As for dried beans, they are likely to last forever in the fridge if you keep the temperature at 0°F (-18°C).
How to Defrost Kidney Beans
If you are going to use the frozen kidney beans in a dish where you need to add them directly into hot water, there is no need to thaw them. The hot liquid of stews or soups will instantly bring them back to life.
In recipes that call for starting with defrosted kidney beans, take the beans out of the freezer beforehand and put them in the fridge to thaw. Then transfer them to room temperature until they are fully defrosted.
If you need it to defrost quickly, place the frozen bag of beans into warm water. This way defrosting the beans is a matter of minutes.
Once you start cooking, avoid putting the beans on high heat as they may split. In this case, adding salt to the beans will prevent splitting. Another reason why you shouldn’t salt the beans while cooking them prior to freezing.
How to Use Defrosted Kidney Beans
Defrosted kidney beans can be used in making sauces, soups, stews, and casseroles.
Thawed kidney beans are somewhat watery and are softer in texture. Thus, they will be perfect for dishes where extra moisture won’t affect the taste of the dish.
Here are some ideas of what you can make with defrosted kidney beans:
- Chilli con carne
- Kidney bean curry
- Slow-simmered kidney beans with sausages
- Kidney bean soup
- Spicy kidney bean casserole with veggies
- Pasta with kidney bean sauce
If you cook and freeze kidney beans yourself, and do it so that the grains stay whole and the skin intact, you might be able to make a salad with defrosted kidney beans.
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