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Can You Freeze Pinto Beans? Here’s How to Get it Right

I used to be part of the people that did not bother much about including beans in their diet. However, a few years ago I went traveling to Latin America; and man they like to eat beans and rice. That is where my love for beans started. 

When I returned home I realized how cheap that meal was, and how nutritious it was for me and my family.

Can You Freeze Pinto Beans?
“I am a bean counter. Oh, I’m not an accountant, but I did spill pinto beans on the counter”Jarod Kintz

Can You Freeze Pinto Beans?

Eating pinto beans regularly will provide you with a consistent supply of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber.

Health benefits + a pocket-friendly meal = a meal on repeat in my book.

But cooking dry beans can take several hours (it is easy but it is time consuming), sure I could use can bean but it turns out that can bean are more expensive than dried beans, plus I prefer the test of fresh beans.

To save time during those busy weekdays I cook a large batch of pinto beans at the weekend. This got me wondering: Can you freeze cooked pinto beans? The answer is yes you can freeze your cooked pinto beans, and they last up to 6 months in the freezer.

Are you wondering if the same answer applies to uncooked pinto beans? Or it may be that you found a lot of canned pinto beans at the supermarket and want to know if you can freeze the canned pinto beans?

Keep on reading. We have the answers to this and many other questions!

Can You Freeze Cooked Pinto Beans? 

Freeze Pinto Beans
Cook in batches and save time on those busy nights!

Yes, you can freeze your cooked pinto beans, and they last up to 6 months in the freezer.

In contrast to buying canned foods, buying fresh, dried pinto beans are pocket-friendly and without any preservatives, perfect for the family. 

However, cooking dried pinto beans can take a considerable amount of time. So, I buy them dried, cook them in batches, and freeze them ready to use on an evening when I am so exhausted that cooking is the last thing in my mind!

Can You Freeze Raw Pinto Beans

Freeze Pinto Beans weevils
Dry beans last longer in the pantry away from moisture. But there is a reason for freezing them, WEEVILS!

Yes, you can freeze uncooked dried pinto beans, but for a slightly different reason than cooked pinto beans. Uncooked dried pinto beans are frozen to clean them from weevils, instead of to preserve them.

Dried pinto beans naturally do well in their raw form without the need to store them in the freezer for preservation purposes.

But rather freezing uncooked dried pinto beans is an excellent way to get rid of bugs.

If there is any chance that there are weevils in your batch of raw dried pinto beans, put them in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer for 1 to 2 weeks. Doing this will help eliminate the weevils and make your uncooked dried pinto beans ready for storage in your pantry.

Ensure the dried beans are not stored in the freezer for longer than 2 weeks or they will spoil.  

To prevent your pinto beans from suffering from freezer burns, ensure to get as much of the oxygen out of the bag/container.

Freezer burn does not cause any harm to your health or your family’s health, but rather it changes the texture and flavor of the dry beans; spoiling them!

Can You Freeze Can Pinto Beans

Freeze Pinto Beans
Only freeze them if the beans are out of the can!

No, you cannot freeze pinto beans in a can, as cans should not be frozen. This can cause health problems.

You could open the can and freeze your pinto beans outside the can. However, canning is a method of food preservation that extends the shelf life of foods for an extended period of time. The likelihood is that the can will preserve the pinto beans for longer than the freezer. So not need to open the can to just freeze the content.

However, if you open your can of pinto beans and did not use them all, you can freeze the leftovers, in a different container than the can, to prevent them from going bad. 

Do You Have To Blanch Pinto Beans Before Freezing?

Freeze Pinto Beans
Blanch your beans if you want to freeze uncooked pinto beans!

Yes, you should blanch your dried pinto beans before freezing if the intention is to freeze them uncooked.

As mentioned above uncooked dried pinto beans in the freezer for longer than 2 weeks can spoil. 

So for best results either cook the beans or blanch them before freezing.

How Do You Blanch Pinto Beans To Freeze Them?

There are two ways to blanch your beans: 

  1. The quick-soak method
  2. The overnight soak method.

The Quick Soak Method

The quick soak method is a faster way to soak dried pinto beans before cooking. 

Step 1

Freeze Pinto Beans
Remove all the debris from the beans you are blanching

Spread your dry beans onto a clean surface and pick out any stones, debris, shriveled or broken beans you may find.

Step 2

Freeze Pinto Beans
Wash them well to remove any unwanted dirt or pesticides

Place your beans on a sieve and rinse them well to remove any dirt or pesticides that may have been applied to the beans!

Step 3

Freeze Pinto Beans
Cover your dry beans with water

Place the beans and water on a pot. The water needs to be covering the beans.

Step 4

Freeze Pinto Beans
Do not boil them for longer than 2-3 minutes. You are blanching your beans not cooking them!

Place your beans and water on the stove and cook over high heat.

Wait until the water boils and leave the pot in the heat for 2-3 minutes.

Step 5

Freeze Pinto Beans
Ensure the lead is on to let them carry on blanching

Turn off the stove and leave the pot covered for approximately 1 hour.

Step 6

Drain the water after the beans sat on it for 1 hour!

Drain the water, pour cold water over the soaked beans, and swish.

Step 7

Drain the water completely

Step 8

Sealable bags are the most efficient way to remove air from your pinto beans before freezing them!

Place your blanched pinto beans on an airtight container, freezer bag, or sealable bag and freeze them

For more information on what are the best containers to use when freezing your pinto beans refer to the “What Is The Best Way To Freeze Pinto Beans” section below.

The Overnight Method

To soak pinto beans overnight:

Step 1

Freeze Pinto Beans
Remove all debris from the beans

Spread your dry beans onto a clean surface and pick out any stones, debris, shriveled or broken beans you may find.

Step 2

Freeze Pinto Beans
Wash them to remove all dirt from the beans

Place your beans on a sieve and rinse them well.

Step 3

Place pinto beans in a pot or bowl and cover them with water. Water must be at least 2-3 inches above the beans.

Step 4

Freeze Pinto Beans
The water softens them and helps to eliminate indigestible sugars that can cause gas

Leave the beans in the pot or bowl at room temperature to soak overnight or 8 hours minimum.

Soaking the pinto beans before cooking not only allows them to soften, but it also allows you to eliminate the indigestible sugars that can cause you to break the wind.

Step 5

Freeze Pinto Beans
Drain and dispose, do not reuse the water!

Drain the water completely. Ensure you do not re-use that water as it will have impurities that can be rather harmful!

Step 6

Freeze Pinto Beans
Sealable bags allows keeping your blanched pinto beans fresh while in the freezer!

Place your pinto beans on an airtight container, freezer bags, or sealable bags, and put them in the freezer.

For more information on what are the best containers to use when freezing your pinto beans refer to the “What Is The Best Way To Freeze Pinto Beans” section below.

How To Freeze Fresh Cooked Pinto Beans?

To freeze cooked pinto beans: cool, label, divide your pinto beans into portions and freeze.

Let’s look at each of the steps:

Step 1

Let the cooked pinto beans cool down completely, but ensure your beans are not at room temperature for longer than 2 hours or you can increase the risk of food poisoning.

Nonetheless, ensure they are cool as freezing hot foods can bring the temperature of your freezer up, potentially semi defrosting other foods.

One way to cool your beans quickly is to separate them into small portions. If by the 2-hour mark your beans are still warm, place them in the fridge and let them finish cooling down.

Step 2

Freeze Pinto Beans
Label and date before filling the container

Label and date each of the Ziploc bags or airtight containers you may be using before you fill them with the content. Trust me, it is easier to label before the bag is wet or greasy.

The labeling will allow you to recognize the content in the container, and the date will allow you to keep an eye on the time your pinto beans have been in the freezer. 

It is recommended that the beans are not stored in the freezer for more than 6 months. While the beans could potentially remain in the freezer for longer, the quality of their test may be compromised!

Step 3

Divide your cooked pinto beans according to your needs.

As you will have to add some liquid, ensure there is a minimum of 1-inch (2.5 cms) headspace.

Step 4

Freeze Pinto Beans
Water expands when frozen so ensure you leave at least 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion

Add some liquid from your cooked beans to the bag or container.

Remember the step above. You need at least 1-inch (2.5 cms) headspace. For those of us reusing glass jars from other foods, such as mayonnaise or pickles, ensure you only fill the jar three-quarters of the way up and freeze them standing.

Step 5

Freeze Pinto Beans
Remove as much air as you can from your bags/containers to prevent freezer burn!

Seal the bags and/or containers.

Ensure you remove as much of the air from the freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. 

Note: Freezer burn does not cause any harm to your health or your family’s health, it simply changes the texture and flavor of your pinto beans making them unpalatable!

Step 6

Place your pinto beans in the freezer.

What Is The Best Way To Freeze Pinto Beans?

Pinto beans can be stored in the freezer in glass jars, food-grade plastic buckets, freezer bags, and vacuumed sealed bags.

Below we have described the advantages and disadvantages of each container:

Glass Jars

Freeze Pinto Beans
Glass Jars are the most environmentally friendly way of storing your pinto beans
Advantage Disadvantage
You can freeze your pinto beans in sizeable portions Does not prevent clumping
They are reusable, and thus are environmentally friendly The jars can be bulky therefore using a lot of space in the freezer
It does not absorb smell or color because it is non-porous There is a potential risk the jar could break due to temperature changes
A good way to reuse glass jars. Just make sure you do this properly, or you run the risk of the jar breaking during the freezing or thawing process. Alternatively use mason jars Not suitable for storing large batches.
Easy to clean  

For advice on how to freeze your pinto beans properly on a Mason jar; see the “How Do You Freeze Pinto Beans In A Mason Jar” section below

Food Grade Plastic Buckets

Freeze Pinto Beans
Food grade plastic buckets allow you to freeze large batches of pinto beans in one place
Advantage Disadvantage
Allows you to freeze large batches of pinto beans Does not prevent clumping
They are reusable Getting sizeable portions of frozen pinto beans from a food-grade plastic bucket for cooking may be stressful and challenging
Although food-grade plastic buckets will take up freezer space, they provide you with the option of having all your beans in one place Some plastics contain harmful compounds that can be transferred to the food and ultimately us and our families

Freezer Bags

Freeze Pinto Beans
Freezer bags are the most economical way to freeze your pinto beans
Advantage Disadvantage
You can freeze your pinto beans in sizeable portions They are not environmentally friendly as they cannot be reused 
Allow you to place the bags flat in the freezer, which can prevent clumping They can get discolored and absorb smells potentially changing the flavor of your food
They are cheap to buy  
They can be stacked in the freezer. Thereby saving space.   

Foodsaver (Vacuum Sealing)

A picture of sealed bags Freeze Pinto Beans
Sealable bags are the most effective way to ensure all the oxygen that can cause freezer burn to your food, is totally removed from the bag
Advantage Disadvantage
Easy to store in the freezer Bags can be expensive compared to Ziploc bags
Store in preferred sizes as you can create a variety of sizes The bags are not reusable. Hence, not friendly to the environment.
A sealed unit that does not leave room for oxidation or freezer burn  You will need to get a vacuum sealer
You can store them flat in the freezer, making it easy for you to thaw when needed  

How Do You Freeze Pinto Beans In A Mason Jar?

Freeze Pinto Beans
Mason Jars allow you to have sizeable portions

Freezing pinto beans in mason jars allows you to have sizeable portions that can be used at a go for your meals and recipes. Simply insert beans, put water, cool, refrigerate, and freeze.

Lets’ look at each step:

Step 1

Prepare your pinto beans either by cooking them or blanching them.

Step 2

Scoop the beans into the individual mason jars. 

If you have blanched your beans we suggest you use a slotted spoon as you probably won’t want to keep your beans in that water. If however, the beans have been cooked, you probably want to keep the liquid used to cook the beans so use a non slotted spoon.

Either way, if your beans have any liquid ensure you allow at least 2-inch headspace to allow for expansion as the beans and liquid freeze.

Step 3

Leave the beans to cool down for approximately 1 hour at room temperature

Warning: The FDA recommends that cooked foods are not left at room temperatures for longer than 2 hours, as these will induce the natural bacteria from the food to grow at dangerous levels increasing the risk of food poisoning.

Step 4

Place your mason jars in the refrigerator after the 1 hour is up.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. To allow the beans to completely cool down, and 
  2. To allow the mason jar to acclimatize to the cold conditions. If you place the jars in the freezer directly you run the risk that the abrupt temperature change can crack them. And no one wants to clean that mess. After all, the whole idea of freezing is to make your life easier, not more difficult!

Step 5

Once the beans-filled mason jars are completely cool, close the lids, transfer them to the freezer and your pinto beans are good to go.

Is It Okay To Leave Cooked Pinto Beans Out Overnight?

Freeze Pinto Beans
It is not safe as it allows the food natural bacteria to grow at dangerous levels increasing the risk of food poisoning!

No, it is not okay to leave cooked pinto beans out overnight.

According to the USDA, cooked leftover food should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours of removing it from the stove or oven.

This is because the warmth of the room temperature allows the natural bacteria from the food to grow at dangerous levels, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

Hence, leaving cooked pinto beans out overnight makes them unsafe for consumption.

It is better to store cooked pinto beans appropriately in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer if needed later.

How Long Will Cooked Pinto Beans Last In The Freezer?

Freeze Pinto Beans
Cook and freeze for up to 6 months!

Cooked pinto beans will last up to 6 months in the freezer and 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Those 6 months in the freezer are a guide.  The beans can potentially remain frozen for a little longer. However, the flavor quality will be compromised the longer you leave them in the freezer. 

How Do You Cook Frozen Pinto Beans?

Three bean tortilla soup topping Freeze Pinto Beans

You’ll need the following ingredients to make a three-bean tortilla soup recipe that’s absolutely delicious, especially as it features pinto beans. 

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • A few handfuls of tortilla chips

Here’s the recipe

  1. You need to start by heating the coconut oil in a pot and adding in the onion, celery, carrot, salt, and pepper, and cooking them all until the onions are translucent. 
  2. Then, you can add the bell pepper and cook them for 5 more minutes before adding the garlic for an additional 30 seconds. 
  3. Next, you have to add the beans and the corn and to stir well to combine the flavors. 
  4. Then, it’s time to add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, and bay leaves. Cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. 
  5. Remove the lid and add some tortilla chips. Allow simmering for another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with toppings like avocado, shredded cheese, sliced scallions, cilantro leaves, or extra tortilla chips. 

This recipe works with frozen pinto beans as they will need to be on the stove for a considerate amount of time, allowing them to defrost and cook properly.

Side note: It is recommended that to kill any potential hazardous bacteria present in the food, it is cooked or reheated long enough that the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 167 °F (75 °C) (source: Centre For Food Safety)

However, if your recipe does not call for the beans to be on the heat for long enough to reach a safe temperature and be defrosted properly, then ensure you thaw them first.

You can also try to make a vegetarian three-bean chili pot for all those cold evenings. 

How To Defrost Pinto Beans

There are three ways to defrost your pinto beans: The refrigerator, the microwave, and the stove. 

The Refrigerator

Freeze Pinto Beans
the safest way to defrost your pinto beans

Thaw your pinto beans in the fridge for two to three days. Then go ahead and add the thawed pinto beans to your recipes.

The Microwave

Freeze Pinto Beans
The quickest way to defrost your pinto beans

Place your beans in a microwave-safe container. Defrost them using the defrosted setting. Eat or cook immediately.

The Stove

Freeze Pinto Beans
Keep everything in one pot. Defrost and cook all in one place!

Add your frozen pinto beans to a saucepan over low to medium heat, and warm the beans until thoroughly defrosted.

How you choose to incorporate your frozen pinto beans is based on preference and recipe.

If your recipe calls for thawed beans, you can settle for any of the above steps. Alternatively, you can pull your frozen pinto beans right from the freezer and incorporate them directly into your hot recipes.

Can You Reheat Pinto Beans?

Freeze Pinto Beans
Reheat your pinto beans and stay safe!

Yes, you can reheat pinto beans, and what is more, is the most effective way to eliminate any bacteria that may have grown in excess.

However, This is only safe as long as the reheated pinto beans reach 75 °C  (167 °F).

Note: The most accurate way to tell the internal temperature of the food is by using an internal thermometer.

How you reheat your frozen pinto beans it is up to you. You could use:

  • The stove in low to medium heat. If your beans are dry, ensure you add a splash of water or they may burn.
  • The microwave in high heat for approximately 1 minute, then stir and heat them for an extra minute. if they are dry add a splash of water or they will dry up more.
  • The Oven / Slow Cooker if your recipe calls for it. However, if you are only reheating the beans for a salad or tacos, I would recommend one of the above methods as an easier and more cost-effective solution.

Conclusion

Pinto beans are laden with vitamins, minerals, and they offer impressive health benefits. However, they take some time to prepare. To save time in the long run cook your pinto beans in large quantities and freeze your leftovers until you are ready to eat them again.

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