Black beans are a type of legume, not to be confused with black-eyed peas. They have a similar flavor profile but slightly blander and less sweet. Black beans are a good source of plant-based protein. They are also high in fiber and vitamin B and low in saturated fats. Black beans have a low Glycemic Index (GI) for a carbohydrate-rich food, which means that they do not negatively affect blood sugar levels like other carb sources.
Black beans can be frozen in various forms, including fresh, canned, cooked, and uncooked. However, frozen black beans cooked or uncooked have a few differences. Frozen beans are great to have on hand for recipes that call for them or as they are added into soups or salads. Since black beans are relatively smaller than other beans (e.g., garbanzo beans), they are less prone to splitting when frozen.
How to Freeze Uncooked Beans
Before freezing uncooked black beans, make sure to soak them overnight for about six to eight hours, so they are easier to cook after thawing. Rinse the black beans well with cool water after soaking them to get rid of any impurities. Drain in a colander and prepare a baking sheet, paper towels, and freezer-safe containers.
A quicker method to soak the beans is to place them in a pot with water. Cover the pot and boil the black beans for an hour. Afterward, turn the stove off, drain, and let them cool completely.
Next, place the black beans on a baking sheet. It is best to ensure that they are spread out well and not on top of each other. Cover the black beans with a paper towel and leave them to dry for up to 24 hours. It is essential to leave the beans to dry completely because any water leftover will turn into ice crystals in the freezer. When ice crystals form on the black beans, they will become mushy after defrosting.
After the beans are completely dry, they can be divided into smaller portions then placed in freezer-safe bags or containers. Remove as much air as possible when storing in freezer bags because oxygenation may result in rancid flavors. Date and label the containers before placing them in the freezer. This method works best for those who plan to use their frozen black beans within 12 months of freezing because it removes some moisture from the bean, making the texture more stable over time than when they are frozen fresh or cooked.
Freezing Cooked Black Beans
Fresh black beans should be cooked first before being frozen for best results in taste and quality. Cooking the beans kill any bacteria or parasites as well as making them easier to reheat. It also helps preserve nutrients such as vitamin A which is good for the immune system. In a pot with boiling water, cook the black beans until tender but still firm to the bite with the liquid cooking method. Drain well and then place on baking trays. Cover the beans with a paper towel until they have cooled down and have completely dried.
Store the cooked beans in an airtight container layered between parchment paper sheets to prevent sticking – such as cheesecloth, waxed paper, or plastic wrap) then place inside a vacuum-sealed bag for long-term storage and freeze immediately. Date and label the containers before putting them in the freezer. The exact process applies to canned black beans after draining their canning liquid.
Similar to uncooked black beans, cooked beans without any sauce can last up to 12 months in the freezer. After a year, the texture of the beans will deteriorate and become mushy.
Refried Black Beans and Sauce
Other variants of black beans include refried beans and black beans in sauce (usually tomato sauce). Since both kinds are acidic, use glass jars or BPA-free plastic containers when storing in the freezer. Regular plastic containers react with acidic foods over time and release harmful chemicals called Bisphenol A (BPA).
All types of black beans can also be stored using a vacuum sealer before freezing. Complete air removal in freezer bags may extend the shelf life of frozen black beans.
Thawing Black Beans
Black beans can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator or left on the counter for a few hours. Immersing the container in tepid water will also help speed up the thawing process. Defrosted black beans can be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days.
To defrost the black beans faster, place them in a saucepan and heat them with some water. Cook over low heat to prevent the beans from burning or overcooking.
Another quick method is to defrost the beans in the microwave. Use the default defrost settings or heat on high in 10-second intervals.
Refried black beans tend to dry out in the freezer slightly. Similarly, black beans cooked in sauce may also dry out and separate. After thawing, add a little oil or water when reheating and stir frequently to prevent the beans from burning.
Can You Freeze Black Beans Sauce?
Black bean sauce or canning liquid can be saved and frozen separately. After draining the black beans, portion the liquid into ice cube trays. Flash freeze the sauce, then transfer the cubes into a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Date and label the containers before placing them in the freezer.
Can You Refreeze Black Beans?
It is safe to consume refrozen black beans but is not recommended. Beans can become tough and lose their flavor when reheated after being frozen. Also, nutrients like vitamin A decrease rapidly during storage due to oxidation.
Is it Better to Freeze Canned Black Beans?
Commercially canned black beans have added preservatives for longer shelf life. Freezing black beans are recommended for preserving homemade beans, while keeping unopened canned beans in the pantry is better. Frozen canned black beans may last between 12 to 18 months in the freezer but may not keep their original fresh texture when thawed.