Can You Freeze Pinto Beans?

Q. I like to add pinto beans to soups and pastas, but I hate how long they take to cook. The whole process of soaking them overnight to soften them and then boiling them for what seems like forever is a serious deterrent to eating them very often. I know that you can buy them in cans, but I don’t trust all the stuff they add to canned food, and the texture just never seems right anyway. I have been looking for a way to cook and preserve pinto beans in advance. Someone suggested canning but I don’t really know how to do that. I guess what I want to know is, Can you freeze pinto beans?

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A. You’re absolutely correct when you say it feels like it takes forever to cook pinto beans! They take about two hours to fully cook to the right texture, and not many people want to be bothered to do that on a regular basis. However, the good news is that yes, you can freeze pinto beans! You still have to go through the whole cooking process, but if you make them in a large batch, you will only have to cook once and then get to eat several times before needing to do it all over again.

How to freeze pinto beans?

Bags of dried beans typically yield about two cups of dried beans, so I recommend cooking up at least one bag of dried beans at a time. The beans will expand upon cooking, and then expand a bit more upon freezing, so you will have a nice stash of frozen pinto beans when you’re done. Begin by cooking the pinto beans. Sort through them first and discard any small pebbles you may find. Wash the beans. Then, soak the beans overnight first if you wish. This cuts down the cooking time required. Cook the pinto beans according to the instructions on the package. Then allow to cool completely.

Place cool, cooked pinto beans in freezer bags or freezer safe containers. Ladle enough of the cooking liquid over the beans to completely cover them. This will keep them from drying out. Leave an inch or two of headroom at the top of the container to allow for expansion during the freezing process. Seal the containers, then label and date them. Frozen pinto beans should be used within about 3 months for best results. To thaw, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the fridge. 

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