If you’ve ever cooked rice and beans, you might have wondered if it is possible to freeze them and then reheat them at a later time.
As rice and beans is one of the simplest to prepare yet most nutritionally dense foods, it is extremely popular and thus the question of whether it can be frozen or not warrants a thorough, in-depth answer.
So, can you freeze rice and beans?
Yes! You can freeze rice and beans. In fact, cooking a large batch of rice and beans and freezing it is recommended for anyone looking to save time and money on not needing to prepare fresh meals every time.
While the process for freezing rice and beans is fairly straightforward, this article will walk you through the process step by step with specific details to ensure that your rice and beans come out tasting delicious after you reheat them.
In this article, I will first provide some general information worth considering for when you are ready to freeze a batch of rice and beans. Then, I will write out the step by step detailed instructions for how to go about the freezing process. After that, I will briefly go over the best methods to follow for reheating your frozen rice and beans. Finally, I will answer some related questions on this topic.
Freezing Rice and Beans: Step by Step Guide
Freezing Rice and Beans – Things to Consider
If you decide that you want to go ahead and freeze rice and beans, there are several key things to consider before you throw your food into the freezer.
Firstly, you must understand the most important factor for freezing rice and beans: make sure that the rice and beans are sealed properly.
This is essential because if you place rice and beans into the freezer without sealing them properly, your rice and beans have the potential risk of developing freezer burn.
Freezer burn is what happens to food in the freezer that has lost its moisture and experiences dehydration and oxidation. This loss of moisture occurs because the water molecules within the food slowly move towards the coldest area of your freezer, eventually escaping the food altogether.
If you are freezing rice and beans that have already been cooked, the cooking process already eliminated some moisture, so it will be more susceptible to freezer burn than if you are freezing raw rice and beans.
Keep in mind, however, that food that has experienced freezer burn is still 100% safe to eat. The only effect that freezer burn has on food is taste: the food will taste drier and thus more bland and flavorless.
Here are some ways to prevent freezer burn from developing on your rice and beans:
1.) Make sure the rice and beans are tightly sealed and wrapped. To do this, you can use double wrap the rice and beans in sealable plastic bags (i.e Ziploc bags) or vacuum sealer bags, making sure the bag is pressed as tightly against the food as possible. This will help prevent the water molecules from escaping the rice and beans. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, I’d highly recommend picking one up if you plan to freeze and store stuff. This is the one I have and absolutely love.
Note: for convenience, it might be preferred to simply use an air-tight container or vacuum packaging. These work too, just try and fill them as much as possible with food.
2.) Do not store the rice and beans in the freezer for too long. Again, even though it is completely safe to store the rice and beans in your freezer for as long as you want, the longer they are in there, the chances of them developing freezer burn increases.
3.) Make sure your freezer stays at a constant temperature (0 degrees Fahrenheit). This is because fluctuations in temperature can increase the risk of freezer burn occurring.
4.) Always make sure you allow food to cool down to room temperature before placing it in the freezer. If you place food into the freezer while it is still hot, it will cause the temperature inside the freezer to change and thus increase the risk of freezer burn occurring in other foods.
5.) Never leave the freezer door open for extended periods of time.
6.) Keep the freezer’s temperature stable by placing plastic containers filled with water inside.
As long as you follow these 6 guidelines listed above, you should not have to worry about your rice and beans developing freezer burn.
Now, while the freezing process really has no way of drastically altering the taste or composition of beans, it can affect rice in unfavorable ways.
The biggest issue that can arise when freezing rice is the issue of the rice clumping together and becoming mushy. While this does not necessarily alter or ruin the taste of the rice, the mushy texture does have a tendency to be less than optimal for most individuals.
The best way to prevent your rice from becoming mushy after being stored in the freezer is by breaking the rice up into smaller portions.
By freezing several small 1-2 cup portions of rice rather than one giant batch, even if a couple of portions do become mushy, chances are slim that all of them will. Thus, it is better to risk having only some mushy rice, rather than all of it.
Another easy way to prevent your rice from becoming mushy is to avoid slow-thawing it in the fridge or at room temperature after it has been frozen, as rice has a tendency to become mushy while thawing. (See the reheating rice and beans section below for more on this)
Okay, now that you know some basic information surrounding the rice and beans freezing process, let’s dive into the step by step detailed guide with specific instructions for how to do it.
Freezing Rice and Beans: Follow these Steps
Step 1: Cook a batch of rice and beans.
Note: These steps for freezing rice and beans apply to any variation of rice and beans, so don’t worry about the specific kind of rice or beans that you have prepared.
Step 2: Allow the rice and beans to cool down to room temperature. To speed up the cooling process, lay out the rice evenly onto a baking tray. To prevent any rice from sticking to the surface of the baking tray, simply hold it under running water before adding the rice and beans to it. It should take no longer than 30 minutes for the rice to cool down.
Note: You can also cool the rice and beans in the fridge to speed up the process; it is fine if they are colder than room temperature before entering the freezer.
Step 3: Divide the rice and beans into 1-2 cup portions, depending on how much rice you have. (If you have a lot of rice and beans, divide it into 2 cup portions, and vice versa). This will not only help with preventing freezer burn but will also allow you to reheat precisely the right amount of rice and beans when you are ready to eat it.
Step 4: Place these 1-2 cup portions of rice and beans into airtight, sealable bags. This could be Ziploc bags, vacuum sealer bags, or freezer bags. Once the rice and beans are in the bag, flatten it out and create a thin, even layer. This will help make the reheating process more effective when you are ready to reheat the rice and beans if you opt to use a microwave, as heat will easily be evenly distributed to the homogenous layer of rice and beans.
Note: While not required, it never hurts to label each bag with the name of the food (rice and beans), the amount inside the bag (1-2 cups), and the date. This is so down the road when you are interested in reheating the rice and beans, you will know exactly how much you have and exactly how long it has been frozen for.
Step 5: Place the bags of rice and beans into the freezer.
Reheating Rice and Beans
If you followed the steps outlined above for the freezing process, reheating your rice and beans is going to be very easy.
An important thing to remember is to never slow-thaw your rice and beans in the fridge, in cold water, or at room temperature. This will cause the rice to become mushy and thus potentially ruin your meal.
To reheat the rice and beans, the best method is to reheat it in a frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of water over the stovetop at low heat, slowly breaking and stirring the rice and beans as time passes.
If you want to reheat the rice and beans a bit faster, simply place the rice and beans in the microwave with a glass of water to help prevent loss of moisture and microwave it in 1-minute increments, stirring the rice and beans after each increment.
Can you Re-freeze Rice and Beans After it has Been Reheated?
Yes, you can re-freeze rice and beans after it has been reheated. For the best results, make sure to follow the step by step freezing process outlined above when refreezing your rice and beans.
I Prepared Rice and Beans Along with Other Ingredients, is the Freezing Process the Same?
Yes. Even if your rice and beans are combined with other ingredients, you should still follow the freezing process outlined above.