Baked beans are usually my go-to side dish when hosting a party. It’s hearty, delicious, affordable, and easy to make! The thing is when the party’s over, I’ve prepared so much food and I have a ton of leftovers, beans included.
If you’re like me and hate wasting food, you’ve probably “bean” looking for long-lasting ways to store baked beans. Sure, you can refrigerate them, but that will only give you 3 to 4 days more before the beans go bad.
If you want your beans to keep well for several months, freeze them.
It’s not as simple as placing the beans in the freezer right away, though. There are some things you need to keep in mind to maintain the quality of the beans. Keep reading to learn how to properly store, freeze, and thaw your baked beans.
How to Freeze Baked Beans
When stored properly, frozen baked beans can last for up to 6 months in the freezer.
For the best results, freeze baked beans the same day that you cook them. Here’s how:
Allow the beans to cool to room temperature. Hot beans when frozen immediately will expand and burst open, resulting in a mushy dish when defrosted.
Additionally, putting hot beans into a plastic container will make it expand, thereby damaging or completely ruining it. To avoid either of these from happening, let your beans sit on the counter until they cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for 6 hours before freezing to let them finish cooling completely.
Store the beans in a BPA-free and freezer-safe container. These containers are sturdy and thick enough to withstand the temperature. Plus, they have secure lids that ensure your food won’t spill.
Their lids are clear as well, making it easier to tell what items you stored inside them. But of course, your best bet is always to label each item.
Make sure the container is clean and dry before using it. Transfer the beans into the container, making sure that all the meat chunks are soaked completely in sauce. This will help prevent them from drying out as it freezes.
Leave at least an inch of space between the beans and the lid. Beans expand as they freeze, so they need that extra bit of room. If you fill the container to the brim, you risk having a bean explosion in your freezer!
Label the container with the current date and the “best by” date. That way, you’ll easily be able to tell whether the beans are still safe for eating. Frozen baked beans will keep well for up to 6 months.
Apart from homemade beans, you can also freeze beans from a can. Transfer them into an air-tight container or glass jar. Label them with the current date and freeze. Canned beans will last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
How to Thaw Baked Beans
Once you’re ready to use frozen baked beans, whether home-made or canned, transfer them into the fridge and let them thaw for 8 hours. You can microwave it using the “defrost” setting to thaw as well.
Don’t shock your beans and cook them immediately after taking them out of the freezer! Doing so might harm the integrity of the beans.
Once your beans have thawed, reheat them on the stove for 10 minutes. You can use the oven, too, but be sure to cook them at a low temperature. Too much heat might cause the beans to pop open.
Some people skip the defrosting step and just reheat right away. I recommend against it because this will cause your beans to become too watery and mushy. But if you’re in a hurry, add a bit of salt as you reheat it. This will result in beans that are a little less mushy.
Tips & Tricks
Do not re-freeze defrosted beans because they won’t keep well anymore. It’s better to store the beans in smaller serving sizes so you’ll only need to thaw whatever amount you need for the day.
Salt is a natural preservative, so if you want to extend your beans’ shelf-life, add some salt to your baked beans before freezing them. It will make your beans last in the freezer for several more days.
While you can freeze homemade and canned baked beans, do not freeze uncooked beans! They won’t cook well after thawing.