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Freezing Pinto Beans – The Complete Guide

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Pinto beans are one of the most commonly used beans in the US. They are quite versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Pinto beans add up really quickly when you cook them and a little bit goes a long way. 

Additionally, pinto beans are extremely affordable. This makes them a great option for anyone on a budget, as well as people who just want the savory flavor of some good home-cooked pinto beans. 

If you make up a batch of pinto beans, chances are you are going to have extra. Can you freeze cooked pinto beans? Yes, you can freeze pinto beans. They last for about 4 months in the freezer. 

In this guide, we will cover all of the details you should know about how to freeze pinto beans. We will go cover a lot of ground with details about pinto beans and all of your best storage options you should be aware of. 

Keep reading to get all of the valuable information surrounding freezing pinto beans, and more. 

A Guide to Freezing and Storing Pinto Beans

Pinto beans come in more than one manner. You can buy pre-cooked pinto beans in a can that require little prep work to use. Or you can buy dried beans and cook them yourself. No matter which route you go, you need options. 

If you buy canned pinto beans, you probably don’t need to worry about freezing them. The canning process preserved those beans to last just as long, if not longer, then they would if you opened them and froze them. 

It’s also important to note that canned goods are not supposed to be frozen. Want to learn more? Check out this article we wrote about why you shouldn’t freeze canned goods.

This guide is primarily directed towards dried beans that you have cooked. We may also touch slightly on dried beans in general.

Dried beans (like these pinto beans on Amazon) are one of the most affordable food items available. 

Dried beans will last a substantial amount of time in your pantry, especially if you have an unopened package. Even once you have opened it, you can seal them back up and continue to store them. 

However, preparing dried beans for use does take quite a bit of time between soaking them and cooking them. With that in mind, you might as well cook up a large batch and freeze the excess to use when you are ready for them. 

Using Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are very versatile. You can eat them in so many ways or add them to various dishes. Pinto beans have great flavor on their own and you can easily flavor them further. 

If you’re not very familiar with pinto beans, here is a good reference – those refried beans you love? They are probably made from pinto beans! See? They can be pretty amazing. 

We wanted to provide you with some inspiration for using your pinto beans. Here are several uses for pinto beans that you may or may not be aware of. 

  • Ham and beans
  • Refried beans
  • Add to burritos
  • Add to salads
  • Use in taco salad
  • Add to various soups
  • Season and use as a side dish
  • Chili con carne
  • Chili

As you can see, there are a lot of options for using those pinto beans. One bag of dried pinto beans can stretch for several different meals and uses most of the time. Of course, this depends on just what you are making. 

The good news is, the cost is super low so even if you have to buy several bags at a time, they are worth it. 

Preparing Pinto Beans

There is quite a lot of conflicting information regarding how you should prepare your pinto beans. Do you have to soak them before you use them or can you just rinse them?

Most of this is based on preference. Much information shows that properly soaking the pinto beans prior to use eliminates many of the sugars that lead to gassiness and other digestive issues. 

There are other methods that say running your hands through the beans and rinsing them in cold water also helps and does not require soaking. 

However, when it comes down to it, the most common recommendation is to soak your beans. It is this part of the process that turns many people off from messing with beans. Again, it’s up to you. You can choose to ship the soaking part if you are willing to risk the side effects. 

The soaking process is why we are here. You can soak up a huge batch at one time and then separate them into portions and freeze them.

This process works very well. If you can spare the time to soak them to begin with, you will save yourself time in the end. 

Here’s some insight into the soaking process. You don’t necessarily have to follow these instructions exactly, but it gives you an idea of the overall process for reference. 

  1. Sort through the beans to remove broken beans or debris (optional)
  2. Rinse quickly in cold water
  3. Place beans in a bowl or pot and cover with water 2-3 inches above the beans. 
  4. Leave the beans soaking at room temperature overnight or at least 8 hours. 
  5. Drain well and proceed to cooking or using. 

There is a quick soak method that involves briskly boiling the beans. If you need your beans in a hurry, you can always give that method a try. 

Freezing Pinto Beans

For this process and instructions, we are going to assume that you have soaked and possibly cooked your pinto beans. Whether you have cooked them or just soaked them, this process should work either way. 

Pinto beans are so easy to freeze but they don’t last nearly as long in the freezer as they do when they are dried. But if you have soaked them and cooked them, this is a great option and it makes them easy to pull out and use at any time. 

Here is a freezing process for you to try out. 

  1. Portion your cooked or soaked beans out according to your preferences. 
  2. Separate accordingly into heavy-duty freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. 
  3. Leave 1 inch of headspace in your storage device. 
  4. Add liquid from your beans, just enough to cover them. 
  5. Seal, label, and date your beans. 
  6. Place in the freezer. 
  7. Ideally, your beans should be used within about 4 months from the freezer. However, they should be good for up to 6 months in the freezer. 

Using Pinto Beans After Freezing

By now you should understand that working with pinto beans is pretty simple. The hardest part is soaking them before you cook with them. As we discussed, that is where freezing them can come in handy and possibly save you some time. 

So then, after you freeze your pinto beans, you need to know the process for using them. This includes defrosting time and processes. 

You basically have three options for using your beans after freezing:

  1. Allow your frozen pinto beans to thaw in the fridge overnight or 2-3 days and then proceed to cook with them. 
  2. Quick thaw your beans by running them under warm water or placing them in a bowl of warm water. You can also microwave to thaw slightly and then proceed with cooking use. 
  3. If your frozen beans are not one big chunk, you can add them directly to your recipe. If you are making chili or a dish that uses the beans as a base, simply heat or warm the beans in your pot and then add other ingredients. 

These simple steps show you just how simple and versatile working with pinto beans really is. The processes are a piece of cake and with their low cost, you simply can’t find better options. 

Related Questions

We hope that you have found this guide to useful and informative and that you feel fully knowledgeable about the process for freezing your pinto beans. The purpose of this guide was to walk you through from start to finish in simple detail. 

In the following question and answer section, we have provided some additional information that could be helpful for you. We invite you to check it out to see if there may be further resources. 

Do Pinto Beans Go Bad?

Chances are you will never have to worry about dried pinto beans going bad if you store them properly. The concern would be for cooked pinto beans.

If the beans smell funny or have an odd coloring or appearance, you should not test them. Additionally, if you see mold developing, just toss the beans. 

Do Beans Take a Long Time to Cook?

To fully cook beans by simmering them, they typically take 1-3 hours to cook. If you are making chili or ham and beans, you should rely on this time frame.

If you are adding them to a baked dish, they should cook fine in the cooking timeframe of the dish. Cooking time can vary based on use. 

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