Preparing and Freezing Beans

 

As an RD, I constantly find myself encouraging my clients to eat more beans, as long as it doesn't bother their stomach. Beans are a great source of protein, they're packed with fiber and they're incredibly versatile.

 

I like to encourage people to buy dried beans and prepare them at home. Dried beans are the best option, in my opinion, but a lot of people tell me that they're unsure how to cook dried beans, so they just choose not to eat them. Good news! They're incredibly easy to prepare, and once they're cooked, you can freeze them so you'll always have them on hand when you need them!

How to cook and freeze beans

Let's start with cooking methods:


Stovetop

All beans have slightly different cooking times, but if you're cooking them on the stove top, you need to soak them first!
Soaking methods:
Long soak: Put the beans in a bowl, cover with three times the amount of water (so for a bag of beans you need 6-8 cups), and let soak 6-8 hours or overnight.
Quick soak: Put the beans in a pot, cover with three times the amount of water, bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat, cover and let sit for one hour.
Rinse #1: After soaking, rinse the beans. Set up a colander in the sink, dump the beans and water in and run some water over the beans until the water runs clear.
Cook: Return the beans to the pot and cover with 3 times the amount of water again. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 45 min-one hour. Depending on your "simmer" temperature, your beans could take anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes. Every so often, just remove the lid, scoop out a bean and taste test.
Rinse #2: After cooking, rinse the beans again with cold water to stop the cooking process.


Pressure Cooker

By far the fastest way to cook dried beans. No soaking required! Just dump a bag of beans into the pressure cooker, cover with three times the amount of water and cook on high for 15-20 minutes (will vary by cooker so you'll have to test it out with yours). Use the natural release method and transfer the beans to a strainer to rinse the beans.


Crockpot

A fix-it-and-forget-it method. I haven't actually tried this myself, but I've read several recipes from people who have. The consensus is that cooking times vary widely based on how fresh your beans are. They could be done after as little as 3 hours on high, but it looks like most take about 5-6 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low. No need to presoak using this method.


Notes:

  • For seasoning, you can add chopped onion, garlic and other spices and you can use broth to replace half the liquid for some added flavor.
  • If you add salt to your beans, don't add it until the very end. Salt can cause it to take much longer for the beans to cook.
  • Red kidney beans specifically contain a toxin that might not be destroyed by crockpot cooking alone. To be safe, they should be soaked overnight, rinsed and cooked in boiling water for 10 minutes before being cooked in a crockpot.

Storing Methods:
Refrigerator: Transfer to a tupperware container and store in the fridge for up to five days.
Freezer: Let the beans cool completely. Portion into Ziploc bags. Lay bags flat on side and stack to store in the freezer. When you need to use them, just remove a bag, smack it against the counter to loosen up the beans and either pour directly into the pan of whatever you're cooking to let them thaw, or pour into a bowl and defrost in the microwave.

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Lindsay Livingston, RD
Lindsay Livingston, RD, is a registered dietitian from Columbus, Ohio. She is an online nutrition coach and blogger at The Lean Green Bean. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.