Beans are one of the most versatile and tasty foods out there. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors and are found almost everywhere in the world, from Asia to Latin America.
It’s no surprise they’re so common. In addition to being tasty and versatile, they are incredibly healthy. They provide a large amount of magnesium, zinc, potassium, fiber, protein, and iron.
Whether you’re making a southwestern style chili, a curry with chickpeas, or a worldwide classic like rice and beans, beans can be used in countless dishes.
However one bean, in particular, is an American favorite. I’m referring, of course, to baked beans! This quintessential American dish is not only a great side at barbeques but it can even be a great main course in its own right.
It’s not hard to over do it and cook more than you need. What happens if you do, can you freeze cooked baked beans? Great news – yes you can.
So, fear not, let’s go through some of the common questions you may have regarding how to store baked beans.
How Long do Cooked Baked Beans Last?
As they say, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately baked beans are no exception – once they’re cooked they don’t last forever. How long they do last can depend on a few factors.
Since they are a perishable food item they need to be treated carefully. Cooked baked beans should stay out at room temperature no longer than 2 hours.
However, you should try to put them away much sooner if possible, ideally within an hour. This will help to prevent the formation of harmful bacteria.
But how should you store them?
You can store your cooked beans in the fridge, or you can freeze them. In the fridge, baked beans can last 3 to 5 days when stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to pop them in an airtight container to keep them fresh.
Cooked baked beans, on the other hand, can last up to 6 months when frozen.
Can you Freeze Cooked Baked Beans?
So obviously the answer to the question ‘can you freeze cooked baked beans?’ is ‘yes you can!’
In fact, freezing your beans is the only way to keep them edible for a long period of time after cooking.
By properly freezing them, you can give yourself more than enough time to fully enjoy all of the goodness of your baked beans without them going to waste.
There are differing opinions on how long they stay good for in the freezer though.
As a rule of thumb, if you want them to be the best quality possible it’s better to eat them within 1-2 months. However as I mentioned earlier they will still be good to eat up to 6 months later. Whilst the quality may decline a little, they’ll still be perfectly safe.
So keep calm, and save your beans!
How to Freeze Cooked Baked Beans
While technically you could just cover up the beans in any old container and place them in the freezer, this is far from the best practice of freezing cooked baked beans.
If you’re going to freeze baked beans it’s important to follow the best practices to keep them better, longer. Note that you should only freeze cooked beans. If you freeze uncooked beans then they will not cook properly when you try to prepare them.
The best practices include cooling, using the right container, storing them in the container properly and labeling the container.
Cooling the Beans
For many, cooling the cooked beans before putting them in the freezer is common sense, but for others, it may not be, and that’s okay!
But, for those that aren’t aware, it’s in fact better to let them cool down before storing them. There are a couple of reasons for this.
If you put hot beans in the freezer the container may expand and perhaps burst, or the seal could open and the beans would have a bad taste when you prepare them later.
Another reason for cooling them is to protect the other foods in the freezer. If you put something that’s too warm in the freezer it can lead to the surrounding foods partially thawing and refreezing which can alter the taste and texture of those foods.
Using the Right Container
Use a freezer-safe stackable container. By using a BPA-free plastic container you can safely and conveniently store your food in the freezer. I prefer the ones that have a transparent lid so I can clearly see what I have stored inside.
Store the Beans in the Container Properly
When you place the cooked baked beans into the container you should not fill it all the way up to the brim of the container. Instead, you should leave some room at the top of the container for them to slightly expand. The last thing you want is to have the lid popping off in the freezer!
I found that you should also clean the container of any stray food or liquid drops. A clean freezer is a happy freezer.
Lastly, if you put some meat in the baked beans try to cover up any exposed parts of the meat with the beans to retain the moisture.
Label the Container
Unless you have a crazy memory that can recall the exact date on which you put everything in the freezer (congratulations if you do – I’m very jealous!) it’s best to label the food with the date you put it in. If it’s not a transparent container, you should label what it’s inside of it as well.
How to Defrost Frozen Baked Beans
You have a few options when it comes to reheating frozen baked beans.
I think that the best way to defrost baked beans is to leave them overnight in the fridge if you have the time.
But, of course, time can be tight. So if you have less time you can microwave them. Or, you can defrost them on the stove.
If you are defrosting the beans in the fridge, you will definitely need to plan ahead, especially if it’s a large container. A container over 16 oz can take upwards of 8 hours to defrost.
If you choose to defrost with a microwave, use the defrost setting if your microwave has one. Remove the lid before turning it on. Add a bit of water to the container as it goes to prevent the beans from drying out whilst defrosting.
When you defrost beans on the stove, put them in a saucepan on low heat and let them thaw slowly. You’ll need to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Mix them as they thaw and don’t be afraid to add water if needed to prevent drying.
For both the microwave and stove options, you’ll need to cook and eat the beans directly after defrosting. If you defrost in the fridge, you can eat them up to 3 days after thawing.
Can you Freeze Uncooked Baked Beans?
Since baked beans already come cooked to some extent, it’s no problem! You should follow the same best practices as if they are fully prepared. If they are dried beans, however, you should avoid freezing them as it affects their ability to cook properly.
How to Tell if Baked Beans Have Gone Bad
As with most perishable items, you can tell with your nose or eyes if the beans have gone bad.
The signs of bad beans are a sour smell and a white-ish liquid around the beans. This is not a perfect test, however. If you are slightly concerned and they’ve been stored for 3 days or longer it’s better to be safe and dispose of the beans.