How and Why to Store Prepared Beans

Cooked black beans

Wondering how to store your beans?  Are you working on saving money by buying in bulk, but don’t know how to best store and prepare your purchases?

This week, fellow West Michigan Blogger, Jolon Hull at Savvy Chic Savings blogged about her new bulk purchase of 25 pounds of black beans.  She indicated that she was thinking about canning her beans and was concerned about how difficult that might be.

I quickly posted a comment to her blog with my own solution in an effort to help my fellow cohort in blogging and things frugal.

Now, I have never canned foods on my own.  I canned peaches once about 20 some years ago (Wow…am I that old already?), in someone else’s kitchen, and she did most of the work.    It was fun, but I haven’t done it again since.  I have found that every so often I can try a new arc in my learning curve of life and that one I haven’t done yet.  I would like to and I also plan to learn how to make my own soap.

For now, though, I have made my own bread, candy, baked goods, baking powder, spice mixes, fruit leather and flax crackers, granola…. but not canned goods.

Now, I’d like to learn to can, but not for beans. Too much fussing for too little results for this busy mom —  in my opinion.

Here is the easy-peasy way to store prepared beans.

1.  Cook a whole bunch at one time.  I typically use a pressure cooker and cook up to 10 cups (about 3 1/3 pounds) at one time.

2.  Either use the beans all at once in a recipe that can carry our family for a number of meals, or use quite a bit of them and

3.  freeze the rest in small plastic bags, portioned out for easy future use.

Store cooked beans

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The bags that I use are the smallest ones available through Country Life Natural Foods, and I secure them with those great Twixit Clips that I mentioned in my post on How to Store Nuts and Seeds.  There are small plastic bags available through Amazon, but I have not tested those.  They have a zip-top but I think these should work pretty well.  I just really prefer the Twixit Clips for ease of use.  (anyone else get frustrated with those zipper top closures :-(?))

The portion that I find most helpful is 3 1/2 cups per bag as this is the amount of beans in 2 typical cans of beans.

4.  Simply take a bag out of the freezer when you need them. If you take them out the night before then they will probably be usable the next day. You can also let them warm for a bit and then empty the bag in to a warm pan and heat them up until they are ready to go into your dish. If the dish that you are preparing combines the beans with other items that you are preparing fresh and they are warm, then the heat from the dish will thaw out the beans the rest of the way.

This is such a time and money saver and a nutrition booster as well.

  • You avoid the added expense of canned beans.
  • You also have beans ready whenever you need them for a recipe. I will, in the future, post the recipe for a very flexible curried grain and bean dish that you can adapt to any grain and bean. In truth, almost all recipes work this way. In fact, flexibility in the kitchen is one of the greatest ways to save time and money.
  • You also save on salt intake, though I think it is fine to consume salt as long as it is the healthy kind, not the kind in most processed foods and on most folks’ tables.
  • The beans, when prepared with ajwain or epazote by you, will be soaked and cooked properly and so much more easily digestible and nutritious.
  • One final benefit of preparing and storing your beans this way is that you will be preserving the nutrients in your beans.  Canning reduces nutrients whereas freezing only does so minimally.

It’s not often that one can save time, money and nutrition all at the same time, but when you can, what a deal!

Let me know how it turns out for you!

I’d love to hear any time, money and nutrition saving tips that you have come up with!

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  1. The link must have changed; the bags via the Amazon link appear to be flat and do not say they are for food storage/freezing. I can get qt Ziplocs at Costco, though might be worth it to pay the “non-U.S. mainland” shipping fees and order from Country Life. I’d probably still save money over buying canned beans. 😉
    Does anyone have another source for bulk freezer food storage bags?

  2. Do you drain your beans when you freeze them or leave some water in the bag? I have tried drying cooked Pinto Beans but when I take them out they seem so dry.

    Thanks.
    Jennifer

  3. Once you’ve frozen or dehydrated the cooked beans, how long after you’ve done so can you use them? Does it differ depending on whether you froze or dehydrated them?

    If I want to purchase 6 months worth of black beans, should I cook 6 months worth and freeze or dehydrate all of it? Or, is there another way to store them before cooking closer to the time of use?

    On an unrelated note, which grain do you think is the most nutritious and tasty by itself? Which can be stored for the longest amount of time?

    • Hi Daniel. I am not a food storage expert at all. And I tend to “push the envelope” with food storage. There are recommendations for freezer storage and other kinds of storage all over the internet and I just can’t make a recommendation and then be in trouble if someone gets sick. That being said, my understanding is that dried foods (properly dried) last an indefinite amount of time, but they will take longer to rehydrate if you are talking beans. Frozen foods have a limit, but it seems to me that is to preserve taste and depends on the kind of freezer. Deep freeze is best.

      I personally store my dried beans in a bucket until I need to use them. Soaked and dehydrated beans (I don’t have many) I store in the fridge, but just bc I am being extra cautious. You can see the buckets in this post on food storage.

      Grains…hmm…are you gluten free? I don’t really have an opinion, but if you are GF then teff and quinoa tend to be more highly regarded in the nutrition category. Speaking of which, we haven’t had teff in soooo long. I have a great recipe for Teff Pancakes but no photo yet :).