Storing Cooked Beans

Hi, could you please advise if it's best to freeze beans cooked in bulk? Or can they be stored in airtight jars in the fridge? If so, do we add the cooking water to the jar?

Thank you!
Irene Wellington
New Zealand

Sassy sez:

Hi Irene - Storing beans with the cooking water is personal preference. Personally, I do keep some of the soaking water when storing my beans because it is flavorful.

When you store beans in the refrigerator, they will only last 4 days, tops, before they start to get yucky -- you will only make the mistake ONCE of storing them too long in the fridge before eating them because they give off a MOST unpleasant aroma if they sit too long.

To store in the freezer, be sure to break them up into batches that make sense (1, 2, or 3 cup batches, depending on the number of people in your household). Then defrost in the refrigerator (takes about 24 hours). We use sealer bags for freezer storage.

By the way, no matter which way you choose to store them, be sure the beans are cooled completely first. Otherwise they can grow unhealthy bacteria in the middle of the container even as the sides cool. Not to mention it could bring the temperature of your fridge or freezer down putting the rest of your food in jeopardy.

When you are ready to re-heat your beans, you have two choices.

  1. You can heat the beans along with a little of the bean cooking liquid which adds a nice flavor;


  2. You can drain and rinse the beans and heat with a bit of water or vegetable broth.


Both ways work fine. It is really personal preference. Sometimes you may not want the flavor of the bean cooking liquid, but most times it is welcome.

Regardless, always STORE your cooked beans in the water in which it was cooked, for the reasons mentioned above (keeps the beans moist, nutrition, and yum-factor).

xo
Sassy



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Mar 03, 2010
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Rinsing cooked beans
by: Small Footprints

That was really an informative article ... thank you.

I was wondering whether rinsing stored beans would help them to last in the refrigerator?

Thanks so much!


Mar 05, 2010
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Storing Cooked Beans
by: Jaime

I have found that when I store cooked beans in the refrigerator they only last about 2 days. I put them in individual baggies, as Sassy suggested, in 1 1/2 cup portions and thaw as I go along. I find that they are ALMOST as convenient as canned beans, but much better for you (because of the sodium) and far cheaper.

Mar 08, 2010
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Rinsing beans after cooking...
by: Sassy

Hi Again -- I have stored beans in the fridge both rinsed and not rinsed, and I personally have not noticed that they last longer one way or the other. But storing beans in their cooking liquid helps the beans to stay tender and yummy, whereas without the liquid they can get a bit dried out.

Mar 12, 2010
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tip for cooking garbanzo beans
by: Laura

A great tip for cooking garbanzo beans is to soak them 8 - 12 hours, remove from liquid (save it and refrigerate) place the beans on a cookie sheet/pizza pan and freeze. Then remove from freezer, place in bean soak water, and cook as usual. They take only half the time to cook, as the freezing breaks down the bean somewhat. Another tip for any beans, is to use about 1 1/2 inches of kombu seaweed (or a quarter of a dried stick) in the water when cooking the beans. It causes the beans to cook faster and be more tender. When the beans are done, I fish out the seaweed and eatit! Garbanzo beans cook this way, with freezing and kombu, in about a half an hour!

Mar 14, 2010
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Garbanzo Beans
by: Anonymous

I find that if I soak my garbanzos for 8 or 9 hours, drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans, then put them back in the pan they were soaked in and cover them with water to about an inch above them and then bring them to a boil, turn down the flame as low as possible, cover the pot and cook for 30 to 40 minutes depending on what degree of doneness you prefer, the beans will be perfect. I don't understand why recipes say it takes up to 3 hours for them to get done.

Apr 27, 2010
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I can my own beans
by: Anonymous

I make sodium free cooked beans and can them in a pressure canner. This tool is under $60, and you can also use it to can soups or lots of stuff from the garden that is low-acid, like veggies. You can make a lot all at once this way and conveniently store in your pantry.

Apr 23, 2012
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Made a mistake:-/
by: Anonymous

I was in a rush and stored my beans in the freezer while warm
:( I hope they will be Okay.
Thanks for the informative information!:)

Apr 30, 2012
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Yes, but...
by: Sassy

They should be okay. In the future, remember to completely cool everything before placing in the fridge or freezer.

Why?

Mostly so the warm foods don't bring the temperature of the fridge/freezer down affecting all the other food you have in there.

xo!

Aug 15, 2012
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Actually...
by: Abdel Irada

While I agree that it's undesirable to raise the temperature in one's refrigerator/freezer, I believe that many food-safety agencies and nonprofit organizations advise chilling/freezing foods while they're still hot. The reason for this is that letting them cool to room temperature can allow the growth of bacteria under ideal incubating conditions: warm and damp.

I don't expect you to take my word for this, though. Please look over some regulatory/safety agencies' web pages and see if they bear me out. If not, I am certainly open to correction.

Aug 15, 2012
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Cooling foods...
by: Sassy

Hi Abdel!

Thanks for the comment. I used to be a Personal Chef, and I had to pass a food safety class. So I feel I have a good handle on things that I teach about this topic.

One of the HUGE causes of food spoiling is actually the temp of the fridge going up when hot food is put inside -- puts the rest of the food in the fridge at risk.

MUCH better to cool your food properly before putting it in. You can place your food (which is in a container) in an ice bath, a sink full of very cold water, or place in front of a fan. These usually do the trick. Stir often to cool as quickly as possible. Always be mindful of not letting things sit too long -- in other words, better to set a timer than go into the other room and forgetting about it.

We must be particularly careful with grains, especially rice. Sometimes people feel the outside of the container is cooled, but the inside could still be QUITE warm. That's why stirring is essential.

Hope this helps. :)
xo

Aug 15, 2012
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Have another look, please
by: Abdel Irada

Sassy,

When I entered this conversation, I took the precaution of performing a Google search under the keywords "safe to let foods cool to room temperature before refrigerating." The first item on the results was this page, which you may want to examine: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/housing/info-02-2010/myth_buster_should_you_let_hot_food_cool_before_refrigerating_.html

This page presents the "cool to room temperature" idea as a myth, and advises, "Give your fridge some credit. It’s designed to chill food and keep it cold. It can even protect you from getting sick, so there’s no need to be shy about letting it do its job."

You will find, if you perform the same search (or another using similar, neutral terms) that most if not all credible sources concur in this: It is not advisable to leave foods out to cool before chilling them. "'Time plus warmer temperatures equals growth of bacteria,' says Shelley Feist, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Food Safety Education," the article continues. "n other words, leaving food out at room temperature encourages bacteria to thrive. 'We have what’s called the two-hour rule: Food should only be out for two hours before it’s put in the refrigerator,' says Feist. Any longer than that in the 'danger zone' of temperatures between 40 degrees (the maximum recommended setting for home refrigerators) and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and bacteria can multiply to dangerous numbers."

On the other hand, the article does endorse your suggestion about dividing large containers of food into smaller portions before refrigerating them. Not mentioned is whether submerging them in ice water, for example, would be helpful.

I do not mean to suggest that you're anything less than a competent cook, and I wouldn't argue this point ordinarily, but since food safety is at stake, I find I cannot let this pass without remark.

Again, however, if you can refer me to sound and credible sources arguing in favor of your approach, please do.

Aug 20, 2012
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Close, but...
by: Sassy

Hi Abdel!

I think we are both pretty close to the same understanding. Please read my post again:

"You can place your food (which is in a container) in an ice bath, a sink full of very cold water, or place in front of a fan. These usually do the trick. Stir often to cool as quickly as possible. Always be mindful of not letting things sit too long -- in other words, better to set a timer than go into the other room and forgetting about it."

I am not suggesting one let their food sit at room temperature for hours. I suggest cooling down as quickly as possible and getting it into the fridge.

Putting a piping hot dish into the fridge WILL bring the temp of your fridge down, putting the rest of your food at risk. Not only that, but the outside of the dish will cool before the inside cools, and that puts the dish you are putting into the fridge at risk too because you are not taking care to stir it.

These are things I learned years ago in my food safety course, and it is what I will practice to my dying day.

Guess we will have to agree to disagree.

As always, everyone out there can come to their own conclusions on this one.

Thanks, and hope you're having a great day. :)

Sep 27, 2012
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Letting food cool and our minds too
by: Pegasus

These days it seems that folks are getting more and more scared of bacteria and other things that have been surrounding us our entire lives, without our knowing, and we've all survived and done great without worrying about them before. There is a constant battle of what has been stated on ONB food site or the OTHER, when all that really matters is how YOU feel about YOUR food. If you are going to share it with someone else, follow what you know is best that will help nourish them safely.

It seems some are not giving our bodies enough credit for being able to handle what has always been around them. I am referring to the fear of having bacteria if food is left out of the fridge too long. Well, I have never known food to take more than a couple hours to cool, so we just need to trust that our methods are going to be wonderful and nourishing to us, our friends and family, and not be putting those fears into our food... that's the shame is people seem to be more and more removed from the beauty of enjoying food, and instead wonder what kind of things could harm them!

I'll just say that intentions while cooking and preparing food is a HUGE ingredient!!! If you are preparing food with fear, then your food's just not going to be as good as it could be if you are confident and putting Love into it! Just some food for thought! Check out Masaru Emoto. Emoto's ideas appeared in the popular documentary "What the Bleep Do We Know!? Worth a watch if you haven't already.

Nov 17, 2012
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Use nature
by: Anonymous

Depending on where you live, and the season, you might be able to do pre-fridge cooling by putting a lid on your bean pot and setting it outside to cool.

Dec 05, 2012
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Thanks
by: Carol

Thank you for sharing such important information, Sassy.

Dec 26, 2012
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Bean Safety
by: Anonymous

After cooking/soaking, you can set aside the liquid and ice-bath the beans to bring them down before freezing. If your freezer is prone to "freezer burn" then it is probably unable to handle warm-hot items being placed in it. Also, the larger the batch of warm-hot items you're putting in a fridge or freezer will affect the speed at which the temperatures change (i.e. a single jar of beans will freeze quickly, but a dozen jars will take longer to freeze due to the temperature drop associated with putting them all in together.)

Basically, use common sense... if it doesn't make sense to you: get more information or do what DOES make sense to you. *Unless you work in a professional kitchen, then listen to your employer...

Jan 12, 2014
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Question
by: Anonymous

I like to save the cooking water from my beans to later use as stock. I just found a jar of the cooking water in my refrigerator that I had forgotten about. It's about 4 to 6 weeks old. How long will that cooking water still be ok to use instead of water to make soup?

Jan 22, 2014
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Toss it...
by: Sassy

Four to six weeks old? I would toss it pronto.

Beans and their cooking water are good for about 4-5 days before they really start to go bad.

Unless you freeze. They will do well in the freezer for about 3-4 months.

xo!

Apr 01, 2014
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Left the garbanzo beans out to cool overnight (8 hours)
by: Yvonne

I just cooked 3 lbs of garbanzo beans in my crock pot then left them on the kitchen counter overnight to cool which was approx. 8 hours then placed in the refrigerator immediately thereafter. Do I toss them? or are they okay to eat?

Apr 01, 2014
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Hate to break it to you...
by: Sassy

Hi Yvonne -

Hmmmmm, I think 8 hours is too long for it to sit out after cooking. Sorry, girlfriend. :(

Apr 19, 2014
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Science project
by: Janie

How timely to read this. I made a batch of black eyed peas and got side tracked, therefore I didn't use them all up. Opened the sealed bowl and the peas were actually standing up! OMG the smell was atrocious! The bowl resembled the scene from the movie Alien when they first found the pod eggs. I'll never let that happen again.


Apr 19, 2014
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Hilarious!
by: Sassy

Janie! That's crazy! How funny that you were reminded of Alien! ha! Thanks for sharing, and glad we could all help. :)

Apr 22, 2014
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Storing beans
by: Lisa

I have the best luck with them when I store them in their cooking liquid - they usually last 4-5 days that way.

May 22, 2014
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Crazy lazy
by: Anonymous

Hi. I have made a batch of 5 bean and many vegie stew/soup and left it in the fridge 7-10 days.I ate it daily in broth,on a wrap cold,with tomato sauce...loved it never got anything but great body mind feelings and felt healthy and strong and yummy. Now I am worried to continue this "lazy cook once and awhile lifestyle"

May 24, 2014
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Good job...
by: Sassy

Hi Crazy Lazy! :)

I love what you're doing. That's what we teach here on our website! Just please be sure to eat everything within 4-5 days. Get a new batch going just before you run out so it's all ready to go.

If you would like to make a lot of stuff ahead of time, then I recommend you vacuum seal it before refrigerating. When you do this, food lasts much longer (for instance, instead of 4-5 days, I would eat my vacuum-sealed food in 12-15 days instead -- and maybe even longer). That's because vacuum sealing removes the oxygen which is what keeps it fresh for a much longer time.

Learn more about vacuum sealing here.

Thanks and keep up the good job over there! :)
Sass

May 30, 2014
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Learn something new everyday!
by: Marla

I was recently told you needed to make sure beans cool before refrigerating them, I had never heard this but was happy to see your explanation for this. Thanks

Oct 15, 2014
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How to store your beans longer
by: Morgan

"Seasoning cooked beans with salt," and making sure they stay completely under water when storing, "can prolong their shelf life in the refrigerator to about a week", or 7-10 days I have found. "Salt acts as a natural preservative, making food last longer." I would only recommend this if your beans are cooked without animal products, such has a ham hock or chicken broth. I cook mine with only pure water and Celtic sea salt after they have soaked for at least 24 hours and are thoroughly rinsed before cooking. This also decreases the amount of gas they can cause by making them easier to digest by removing the enzyme inhibitors through the extended soaking time and rinsing. To all who read this, be well :)

Oct 15, 2014
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goodie
by: Anonymous

Hi guys great to hear from u again. Ty for the reminder ,knowing u are there with healthy advice is wonderful

Dec 22, 2014
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Freezing Cooked Dried Beans/Chickpeas
by: Anonymous

I've been freezing beans and chickpeas for years; I prefer cooking, cooling in cooking water by placing pan in cold/iced (your choice) water.
Place one layer of beans/ peas on flat tray/plate and open freeze, for about 30 minutes until just starting to freeze, then transfer to large freezer bag. Any liquid from the beans stays on the tray/plate.
Repeat this; adding beans/peas to same freezer bag until they are all in the one bag. Seal bag.
The beans/peas freeze without sticking together (which happens if frozen in cooking liquid).
Simple shake out what you need out of the freezer bag.
I freeze cooking liquid for stock etc.

Dec 25, 2014
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Thank you!
by: Sassy

Love the detailed explanation of how you freeze your ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing -- I'm sure many people will find it helpful. XO

Jan 12, 2015
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"Cool completely before storing..."
by: Anonymous

The direction to "cool beans completely" before storing due to central bacteria build-up makes no logical sense at all. If bacteria can grow in the center while the beans are cooling, it stands to reason that less bacteria will accumulate if you cool the beans faster. THIS is one of the primary reasons we flash freeze foods in production. I agree you should let them cool to about 100F so that you don't offset refridgerator temp too much, but the faster you cool them to below 38F, the less bacteria will grow. That portion of this article should be changed or significantly clarified as it is terribly misleading.

Jan 13, 2015
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Food safety
by: Sassy

We are in complete agreement. Cool completely. How you go about cooling it is up to you. Obviously the faster you can cool something, the better.

Personally, we place our bowl of beans in a cold water bath (in the sink) to cool quickly. Some people use a fan. The point is to not put it in the fridge so you don't bring the temp of the other foods in the fridge up.

I learned this in a food safety course years ago. Have the rules changed somehow? I am not above being, as the Fonz would say, wr...wr...wr...wr...wrong!    ;)

Apr 07, 2015
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Storing beans
by: Anonymous

According to other sources, such as the USDA, it is not dangerous to immediately refrigerate hot food.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/help/FAQs_Food_Safety/index.asp


Apr 09, 2015
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Question
by: Debbie

If you make your cooked fresh chick peas into hummus, how long will it last in the refrigerator?

Thanks!

Apr 22, 2015
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Fantastic Answer
by: Cynthia C

I just wanted to know if I should keep the water when storing or not, but this gave even more very important information. Thanks for saving me! And my beans too!! Now I'm off to put the beans in smaller containers and in the freezer!

Jun 11, 2015
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Pressure those cook garbonzos!!!
by: KC_pdx

Hi, non-vegan here.

I love hummus and I make it with garbonzos--in a Fagor pressure cooker.

They cook in about TWELVE minutes after soaking overnight--so excellent.

ONE THING: If you decide to do this, MAKE SURE that your beans which have been soaked overnight and water do not exceed half of the volume of the cooker.

Another thing: after you get the pressure cooker to "pressure," you can turn the heat as low as the pressure indicator will go, as far as letting the indicator fall or sink back down.

Different brands of pressure cooker don't recommend cooking fibrous beans like garbonzos, lentils or split peas.

Garbonzos come out perfect every time with a little care--I say give it a try!

Sep 21, 2015
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clarification on yucky please
by: Anonymous

Please define yucky. I store my beans much longer than 4 days and they have never gone yucky. they still smell and taste pleasant and cause no digestive issues whatsoever. The real question is how long does the nutritional integrity stay intact. It is very hard to find anything on the internet about the shelf life of any food in the fridge when it comes to its nutritional value but the reference is always made on its quality and safety.

Nov 05, 2015
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Pinto Beans
by: MrsMistyReal

I froze pinto beans approximately 4/5 months,in a container.They were cooked in chicken broth,& onions.My question is are they still safe to eat?😊

Nov 05, 2015
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Just my opinion but...
by: Sassy

I would say yes. :)

Mar 09, 2016
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Freeze them in Water?
by: Endless_Night

Hi,

sorry if i missed this, tried to read all the comments.

Are you freezing them with the water too?
Just about to go get myself a pressure cooker (just turned vegan and i LIVE for Black Beans)

Thanks!!

Mar 09, 2016
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Freezing cooked beans in their cooking liquid?
by: Sassy

Hi there -- I imagine you CAN store your beans with their cooking liquid in the freezer. But we, personally, drain them first before we seal them up. I would label and use them within 3 months. :)

Jul 16, 2016
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help
by: Anonymous

I recently soaked my beans, but got delayed with cooking them. They sat out at room temp. for two days. Are they safe to cook?

Jul 16, 2016
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Cooking beans after a 2-day soak...
by: Sassy

That's really your call (depending on what part of the world you're in, like if you're smack dab in summertime, or whether or not your home is air conditioned, or if it's really hot in your kitchen). If I were to attempt moving forward, I would give them a good rinsing with some boiling water, then drain, then cook.

Next time, if you can't get to them on time, you can drain them and refrigerate for another day before cooking them up. xo!

Jul 18, 2016
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Africa
by: Lawz

I stay in Southern Africa and frequently visit some remote villages where they grow a lot of sugar beans. As you may know beans require a lot of energy to cook and in these areas the fuel is firewood. It would therefore save a lot of forest if the beans are cooked in bulk, preserved, and then smaller portions served as and when required. But the problem is the cooked beans cannot be stored in freezers as these gadgets are almost unknown in this part of the world. The solution would be to solar dry the cooked beans to preserve and store them. When required a portion can be taken and heated together with some soup to make a ready meal. Do you think this process can be scientifically feasible? How long would the precooked beans last? I understand some vegetables have been solar dried and preserved to last for as long as 6 months.

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