Can You Freeze Black Beans? – The Ultimate Guide
Black beans are a daily staple in many countries, and on regular rotation in most North American households. As with most beans, however, if you’re not thinking far enough ahead, they can really draw out your dinner plans because they take a while to cook.
Batch cooking is a great solution to having your meals ready in a snap.
So can you freeze black beans? Yes, you can freeze cooked or uncooked black beans for up to 3 months, but you will want to soak them either way. Freezing black beans once they’re cooked means they’ll be ready within about 20 minutes any time you need them, straight out of the freezer.
This article will take you through the best way to freeze black beans as well a few preparation options and other useful black bean information
Dried Black Beans Vs. Canned
Black beans are one of many members of the legume family and they’re particularly popular in Central and South America where they’ve been a dietary staple throughout history.
Dry black beans are much more traditional, but canned black beans are rising in popularity because of how quick and easy they are to prepare.
If you want to save time and have quick access to pre-cooked beans, freezing is arguably a better solution than buying canned.
When you cook and preserve your own black beans, you can season them with herbs and spices instead of just over-salting them and you won’t have to worry about any potential side-effects of the metals from cans.
Of course, dry beans you cook yourself are also a cost-effective solution.
If you’re determined to use canned beans, we talk about how to freeze them to save pantry space in this article, too.
How to Freeze Black Beans
How you freeze your black beans will depend on how you plan on cooking them. You have two main choices:
- Freeze soaked, uncooked black beans
- Freeze cooked black beans
There are benefits to both options but the freezing process is subtly different, so we’ll discuss both.
One huge benefit to black beans is that, since they’re so small, they hold up to the freezing process really well. The larger beans and chickpeas tend to split when they freeze, but black beans aren’t so prone to that type of minimal damage.
Freezing Soaked Black Beans
Your first option is to soak your beans overnight, rinse them very well in cool water and freeze them before you cook them.
You’ll shave an hour off the cooking process in the future. This works great if you’ve just bought a huge bag of dried beans and don’t want to cook them all ahead of time, but want to save yourself some time and effort later.
Freezing soaked black beans is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Simply empty your black beans into a large pot or bowl of cool water and let them soak overnight, or even longer if you’d like. When you’re happy with how long they’ve soaked, rinse them well and spread them out into a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Let them dry all day and even all the next night if you want to be super safe. Before you freeze them you want to be sure they’re completely dry again, so they don’t form ice crystals and break down the proteins and fibers, turning your beans to mush.
- Once they’re completely dry, portion them into single serving sizes and transfer to freezer-safe Ziploc bags.
- Date the bags and try to use your beans within 3 months if possible.
When you’re ready to cook them, you can start cooking from frozen, skipping the soaking steps but factoring it into the cooking time.
How to Freeze Cooked Black Beans
If you’d rather get the entire cooking process finished and out of the way, you can do that as well. This way, when you’re ready to eat them, you simply have to warm them up, which you can do from their frozen state.
We’ve included how to cook instructions below for you to follow, however, if you know you’re going to be freezing them, reduce the cooking time by 15 minutes. This will allow you to reheat them without overcooking them.
You can choose to freeze cooked black beans either in their cooking liquid, or drained.
Either way, make sure they are completely cooled to room temperature before freezing. If you’ve drained them, pat them dry as well as you can before freezing, but don’t leave them out to dry overnight like soaked beans.
Transfer your cooked beans, with or without the cooking liquid, to a freezer-safe bag or Tupperware container, removing as much air as possible.
It’s best to separate into single serving sizes and label the containers with the date frozen. Again, you’ll want to use your beans within about 3 months.
Freezing Cooked Black Bean Dishes
The biggest question in regards to freezing cooked black bean dishes is whether or not the other ingredients in the dish are also freezer-friendly.
For example, rice and beans will freeze well, but since dairy isn’t ideal for a freezer, rice and beans with cheese won’t give you great results.
On the other hand, items like black bean burger patties, black bean brownies, and even most black bean sauces will freeze quite well.
Freezing Canned Black Beans
You can freeze canned black beans, though there’s less motivation to do so because inside a can they’re preserved almost indefinitely, whereas in a freezer they will deteriorate in quality after a few months.
If you’ve opened a can and not used all your beans, however, you can transfer your leftovers to a freezer-safe bag with the liquid, remove as much air as possible, and then freeze.
Never put any type of canned goods in their original, pressurized container in the freezer. They can explode which is, at best, messy, at worst, dangerous.
How to Cook Black Beans
Dried black beans are simple to cook and because they’re one of the smaller beans you can buy, they don’t take as long to cook as chickpeas or kidney beans for example. But they do still require some patience.
With all beans, it’s a good idea to soak them overnight before you cook them. This helps to remove some of the complex sugars that can cause digestive difficulties and, many argue, sweetens the flavor of your bean as well. It also cuts back on cooking time by a few minutes.
Cooking black beans is pretty simple:
- After your beans have been soaking for at least 6 hours, rinse them well. This will remove the sugars and compounds instead of letting them sit and cook in the water.
- To cook, transfer your soaked beans to a pot and cover with plenty of water. They soak up a lot of water, so make sure there are at least 4 inches above your beans and check about 30 minutes into cooking to make sure there’s still enough coverage.
- You can add seasoning, spices, herbs, or even chunks of onion or cloves of garlic to the pot as well.
- Depending on how much beans you’re cooking, it will take between 45 minutes to an hour on a low simmer.
- Most people rinse their cooked black beans before eating, but there’s plenty of nutrition in the thick sauce so experiment with leaving some of the liquid in, especially if you’ve gone to great lengths to season your beans.
How to Cook Black Beans Without Soaking
If you don’t have 6 or more hours to soak your beans, or if you prefer the flavor of unsoaked beans and they don’t cause digestive issues for you, you can cook black beans without soaking them.
A strip of Kombu seaweed will even help with digestion if you happen to keep it in stock. Cook the same way as previously described but add an hour to the timer.
How to Cook Canned Black Beans
Canned black beans are pre-cooked, so really they just need to be warmed up. You can either add them directly to your recipe, puree them into a paste, or warm them in their soaking liquid.
If you warm just the beans you can lightly saute some onion, garlic, and/or diced hot peppers with a bit of oil before adding your beans. Then simmer for 10–15 minutes, just long enough to heat up and soak in the added flavors.
Black Beans Benefits and Side Effects
You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy black beans. They’re hearty and filling in the cool months and they add depth and satiation to a colorful salad or lighter meal in the warmer months.
Black beans are one of the best sources of plant-based protein on the planet. They’re incredibly high in fiber and B vitamins and low in saturated fats.
If there are any side effects to consuming black beans, it comes from a type of complex sugar that some people find difficult to digest. This is why beans in general have a reputation for causing gassiness.
If you find this is an issue for you personally, try reducing the serving size of beans you eat very slowly and gradually to allow your gut to adapt, and soak or sprout your dry beans for at least 12 hours before rinsing them very well and cooking them thoroughly.
Beans are relatively low on the Glycemic Index (GI), particularly for carbohydrate-rich foods, which means they’ll create less of a disturbance to your blood sugar levels.
This is good news for diabetics, who won’t have to adjust their insulin intake as dramatically, but it can also help prevent diabetes and reduce weight gain.
Eating black beans regularly can also help improve blood pressure, boost your immune and nervous systems‘ responses, and support the health of your blood cells.
Black Beans Nutrition
As you can see from the following chart, black beans are also a great source of vitamins and minerals:
|Per 1 cup cooked black beans (without salt)|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to freezing and cooking black beans. Here are some answers to common related questions you may be wondering, as well.
Can you freeze kidney beans?
Yes, the process for freezing kidney beans is basically the same as the process for soaking, cooking, and freezing black beans. But we have an article on freezing kidney beans anyway, you’ll be ready to freeze any type of bean you enjoy eating.
Can you freeze beans and rice?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze rice and beans. The biggest potential problem you may run into is having mushy, clumpy rice after it’s been thawed.
There is a way to prevent this, however, and we answer that question in depth in our related article, Can You Freeze Rice and Beans. Check it out next!
Instant Pot black beans cooking time?
Beans are pretty simple to cook no matter how you prepare them, but they can be time-consuming. With an instant pot, you can get perfectly cooked black beans in as close to an instant as humanly possible.
You don’t even have to soak them first. Just add your beans and water, along with any seasoning you like, and set your Instant Pot to High for 30 minutes. Let your beans de-steam for 10–20 minutes without removing the lid and then enjoy.