Rice and beans are one of my absolute favorite dishes. And it is not solely because I am a vegetarian and that it has a very high and fulfilling nutritional value. It is because of the fact that I can easily freeze and defrost the previously cooked batch and enjoy it whenever I crave it!
So, if the question of “Can you freeze rice and beans” ever crossed your mind, then I am here to tell you that. Yes, you can totally freeze an already cooked rice and beans dish. In fact, I secretly enjoy it even more than the freshly made one. Only because it takes me just a few minutes to reheat it and feast on it.
Through this article, I am going to share with you how to properly freeze and thaw your rice and beans dish. In addition to the best tips that you can follow that retains the quality of the dish.
Things to consider before freezing rice and beans:
Freezing is a simple thing to do, right?
Yes, it definitely is. But, it must be done right so that you can store your food and retain its perfect condition. That’s why I must shed a light on a few things that you need to consider if you are going to freeze your rice and beans dish.
Freezer burn is your worst enemy regarding freezing any type of food. Especially the rice and beans. The moisture content of the food that is going to be frozen plays the most important factor if you want to ensure the best quality of frozen food. This mainly happens when the food is exposed to dehydration and oxidation because of extreme temperatures. That’s why it is important to properly seal the food being frozen, specifically the cooked food.
I fully recommend sealing the rice and beans in an airtight container, or if you want a more convenient option, you can go for the high-quality double-sealed freezer bags. Which take less space and are more tightly sealed.
Bear in mind that cooked rice and beans are more prone to freezer burns as their moisture content is already affected through the cooking process. You really don’t want to risk the loss of this amazing taste!
Here are the best tips to prevent freezer burn from developing on your rice and beans:
- Tightly seal the rice and beans in a double freezer bag. I prefer using vacuum-sealable bags. I understand that not everyone has a vacuum sealer. Trust me, you will love it. But in case you are not willing to get one, you can do this simple trick, which is sealing the whole bag except one corner of it and dip a straw in that corner, then suck as much air as you can through the straw, pull it out, then seal the bag. You can also use an airtight container, or a mason jar.
- There isn’t a certain deadline for your frozen rice and beans to be in the freezer, which means you can totally store them for however long you want. But, keep in your mind that the longer you leave your food in the freezer, the higher the chance for it to be freezer burnt.
- You must allow the food to first cool down completely to room temperature before you attempt to freeze it, as moving the dish straight from the stove to the freezer affects the temperature inside the freezer risking the chance of freezer burn. We don’t want that.
- Stabilize the temperature of the freezer by leaving a couple of water-filled containers inside it.
- Avoid leaving the freezer door open for long periods of time so that its temperature doesn’t go up.
Before we go with the detailed steps of freezing your beans and rice, there is one final thing that you need to do before transferring the dish to the freezer, which is separating the cooked rice into small portions.
Chances that the bean will be affected by the freezer are slim, unlike the rice, which has a higher chance of forming mushy lumps. That’s why you will need to break the big rice batch into 1 to 2 cup portions of rice and freeze them separately. This will result in properly frozen rice.
Yes, chances of clumping will still be present, but at least not the whole stored batch will be lumpy.
You should also avoid slowly defrosting the frozen rice before reheating it, as a slow thaw can, in fact, lead to more mushy rice.
How to freeze rice and beans:
- Start by normally cooking the rice and beans as you usually would.
- Allow them to cool to room temperature by spreading them on a baking tray. A useful tip that you can do to prevent the rice and beans from sticking to your tray, is to put the tray under running water for a few seconds before spreading the rice and beans on it. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes to cool down. For an even faster method, you could transfer the tray to the fridge till it cools down.
- Separate the rice and beans into 1 – 2 cup portions according to the amount you originally have. Besides the fact that it will protect the food from any freezer burn. It will also make it easier for you to reheat the portion you exactly need later on.
- Pour the divided portions into separate Ziploc bags, vacuum sealer bags, or freezer bags. Try to flatten the added rice into thin layers so that the food doesn’t occupy a large space in the freezer. It will also ensure an even reheating if you decided to use the microwave.
- Transfer each bag into the freezer after labeling it with the exact amount of rice and beans present and the date they were stored on.
Now that you have successfully frozen your beans and rice and you want to enjoy them again.
Time to learn how to properly handle the frozen food
How to Defrost Rice and Beans?
As we mentioned before, slow thawing is not the most ideal solution when it comes to frozen cooked rice and beans. Simply because the rice tends to form mushy clumps when it is thawed using cold water or slowly at room temperature.
Hence, the best method you should go for is using a frying pan which will also warm up your frozen meal. Win-win situation. All you have got to do is add two tablespoons of water to the frozen rice and beans. Cook it over a frying pan with constant stirring to break all the lumps present.
Another quick alternative is using the microwave. Transfer the plate containing rice and beans to the microwave with a cup filled with water. Adjust the time to a one-minute interval with stirring between each round until the rice properly warm up. The added water will provide moisture that will prevent the drying of the rice.
Frequently asked questions:
Can you re-freeze rice and beans after it has been reheated?
Fortunately, you can easily do so. Just follow the detailed steps mentioned above for the proper freezing of the cooked rice and beans.
Can you freeze red beans and rice with sausage?
Yup, you absolutely can. I mean, who am I to deny you from enjoying the heavenly red beans and rice with sausage dish. You won’t need to follow any extra steps than the ones already mentioned!
Can you freeze dry beans?
Yes. In fact, it will save you more money to do so than buying canned beans every time you want to cook yourself some flavorful rice and beans. All you have to do is:
- Give your dry beans a quick rinse to clean them.
- Allow the beans to Blanche, either overnight or quickly by putting them in a pot filled with water on high heat, and leave them for 2 – 3 minutes, then let the pot sit for one hour after turning off the heat.
- Cook the rinsed beans as you normally would.
- Allow the cooked beans to cool down to room temperature before you attempt to freeze them.
- Divide the beans into two cup portions, and add each portion into a separate freezer bag.
- Label each bag with the date and the content with its amount and transfer the bags to the freezer.
Can you freeze raw beans?
Well. Yes, you can. Although, people don’t usually freeze raw beans to preserve them, but rather to clear them from the bugs.
Remember that you shouldn’t leave the uncooked beans in the freezer for longer than two weeks, or else they will rot.
Can you freeze pinto beans and rice?
Of course, you can freeze pinto beans. It can be done the same way used to freeze any other type of beans. Just follow the same steps mentioned above to know the exact steps you need to follow to successfully freeze your beans and prevent them from rotting.
Don’t skip the blanching step, as it will allow your cooked or uncooked beans to stay for a longer time in the freezer.
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