Can You Freeze Baked Beans? Here’s Exactly What To Do:
Freezing Baked Beans Might Be Easier Than You’d Think
You’ve just cooked an incredible meal. One of the best, even. On a normal night, everyone would clean their plates and go back for seconds. Tonight’s different, though. Your meal (your perfect meal!) was so hearty and filling and delicious that there’s actually quite a bit left over.
It’s not a bad thing — everyone’s happy to have the opportunity to indulge in the meal again for lunch tomorrow — but you’re faced with one problem: Can you freeze baked beans?
Sure, your expertly-seasoned pork chops and your perfectly mashed potatoes will keep in the freezer just fine, but what about the baked beans? As it turns out, you can freeze baked beans (no matter how counter-intuitive that may sound). There’s a catch, however: there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it.
How To Freeze Your Baked Beans: A Step-by-step Guide To Doing It Right
Simply put, anyone could put the rest of a can of baked beans in the freezer to keep for later. It’s a lot more complex than that, though. Doing this would completely ruin the savory flavor of the dish and rob the leftovers of the taste that made them worth saving in the first place. If you want it to be just like it was when you served it initially, there are steps you have to follow.
Step One: Ensuring Proper Freezing Methods
One of the key components of a baked bean dish is the sauce. This is what preserves the baked beans in the can and helps them burst with that smoky, robust flavor they’re known for. As such, freezing an unopened can of baked beans would be a mistake. The liquid would expand and the can would burst, leaving a mess in the freezer even greater than the post-dinner mess in the kitchen. For this reason, there is never a need to freeze a sealed can of baked beans — they’ll keep just fine in the can as is.
To ensure your baked beans are frozen correctly, it’s best to wait until the cooked leftovers reach room temperature, then transfer them into a container in the fridge for around six hours so that they chill gradually and keep their flavor. Going straight from stove to freezer could suck all the flavor and texture from the dish. Your safest option is to go from stove to counter to fridge to freezer.
Step Two: Using The Right Container
Obviously, sticking the pot you cooked the beans in into the fridge and then transferring it to the freezer is not going to do you any good at all. For starters, this is going to make the reheating process quite messy and will likely give the dish a good amount of freezer burn, as well. Additionally, your pot could possibly even crack — they’re designed for high heat, not for extreme cold.
You want to make sure that your baked beans are placed into a freezer-safe and BPA-free container. (Some suggest it’s best to avoid the latter whenever possible.) This could be a gallon-sized plastic bag with a resealable opening or a plastic container with an airtight lid — either one will do. These containers are specially designed for this kind of storage and will keep out freezer burn and keep in flavor.
No matter if you use a plastic bag or a plastic container, there’s one important thing to keep in mind: liquids expand when frozen. It’s the same reason why you can’t freeze an unopened can of beans. When transferring the baked beans into their freezer-safe container, leave a bit of room at the top to prevent any sort of rupture that could expose the unprotected food and subsequently spoil it.
Step Three: Label Your Container
It might sound obvious, but the freezer isn’t going to magically make your baked beans invincible. There’s always an expiration date, even with frozen foods. For this reason, it’s best to take a piece of paper or tape and indicate the date the food was placed in the freezer. As a general rule, you need to consume the baked beans within six months.
No worries, though — your dish was so good, it’ll be gone before the week’s through. Before you go and stick the container of frozen beans into the microwave or onto the stove, take note: there are just as many steps in the reheating process as there are in freezing.
Reheating Your Baked Beans From Frozen
The logical conclusion to freezing your baked beans is, of course, reheating them. One thing remains abundantly clear, though: the process of cooking the baked beans is just as delicate as the steps you took to freeze them.
Step One: Thawing The Frozen Baked Beans
Just as you took the beans from the stove to the counter to the fridge to the freezer, the thawing process has to be a gradual one. Taking the frozen beans and immediately microwaving them on full power for a few minutes will not only rob the dish of its flavor and texture, it’s likely to damage the container too.
For best results, you are going to want to take the frozen beans and place them in the fridge for about eight hours. Double-check the date to make sure they’re still fresh. If you absolutely must defrost them immediately, use the special setting on your microwave. This will keep the dish from heating up too quickly and guarantee that all the deliciousness of the baked beans will remain intact.
Step Two: Cooking The Thawed Baked Beans
After the eight hours (or after the microwave is done defrosting them), take the beans and pour them into a pan on the stovetop or transfer them into a microwave-safe dish and reheat them just as you cooked them initially. If everything was done exactly as these steps have outlined, the dish should not be watery and the beans should retain their shape. Skipping any steps will result in mushy, flavorless beans that couldn’t be further from the delicious dish you wanted to preserve.
Other Uses For Your Frozen Baked Beans
To be honest, you don’t necessarily have to reheat your baked beans exactly how you did things the first time. After you’ve followed the steps to freeze and thaw the baked beans, feel free to get creative with things. Whip up a warm, hearty chili.
Pour them over the top of some grilled hot dogs or bratwursts. Spice them up with some added ingredients for your lunch the next day. Use them as a side for a brand new meal on a different night. The possibilities are pretty much endless.