Baked beans are a yummy side dish often served at barbeques. But, once everyone’s gone home and the barbeque has cooled down, what do you do with the leftover beans?
Well, as it turns out you can freeze them. Once frozen they’ll keep for a good few months without too much of a change in taste.
Of course, beans that you buy at the store tend to come in cans or jars. These hardy little beans can last for well over a year in their unopened tins or jars.
So really the only time you’d have reason to freeze baked beans is if you’ve got leftovers or you’ve made them yourself.
Homemade baked beans need to be eaten within 2-3 days if you keep them in the fridge. The same is true of store-bought beans if they’ve been opened. Freezing your homemade beans extends their shelf life dramatically.
Did you know, baked beans are an indigenous dish? Traditionally, Native Americans used maple syrup to sweeten the sauce that coats these delicious legumes. English colonists adapted the recipe which is why nowadays, the sauce is usually made with brown sugar instead of maple syrup.
Anyway, let’s get freezing!
How to freeze Baked Beans
Freezing baked beans couldn’t be simpler! All you need is a container or zip lock bag.
If you have lots of beans to freeze, it’s a good idea to portion them out into different containers. This makes defrosting them much quicker. It also means you don’t have to eat the whole lot in one go when you do defrost them.
To freeze baked beans, simply spoon or pour the desired amount into a container or zip lock bag. Seal the container or bag and pop them in the freezer. It really is that simple.
If you do choose to use a bag, make sure you squeeze out the air before sealing it. This will help preserve the baked beans for longer.
You might also lay the bags flat before squeezing the air out and sealing them. This will make the final product longer but slimmer. You’ll have an easier time storing flat bags of baked beans in your freezer.
But, most importantly, they will defrost much quicker than if they freeze as a lump.
Don’t forget to put the date on the container before you freeze it. This will help you remember how long your baked beans have been frozen for.
You should use your baked beans within six months. After this time the taste and texture will begin to degrade.
How to defrost Baked Beans
When it comes to defrosting baked beans you have three options; the fridge, the microwave, or the stove.
By far the easiest method is to put your frozen beans in the fridge and leave them overnight. They will defrost slowly and by the time you wake up, they’ll be ready for reheating.
This is a slow method but it requires no input from you whatsoever. Apart from moving them from the freezer to the refrigerator, of course.
The microwave is the quickest method but requires a bit of monitoring. You’ll need to dump the beans into a microwaveable dish first. Do not try to defrost them in a zip lock bag. It’ll end in tears.
If you’re having trouble getting them out of the container, leave them in the fridge for a few hours until they’re a bit melted.
Once in the bowl or dish, pop them in the microwave and use the defrost feature. This uses a lower power than regular cooking functions.
You’ll want to defrost it in short bursts, so set the microwave for 30 seconds. At the end of the 30 seconds, flip it over and go again.
Keep doing this until the beans are fully defrosted. Make sure to check the bigger bits of meat to see if they’re fully defrosted.
You will probably need to add a bit of water to the beans as they defrost. This will stop them from drying out and frying.
If you want to defrost your baked beans on the stove, you follow the same process as microwaving them.
Use a low heat and stir and flip them frequently. If they look like they’re getting dry, add a bit of water.
Once defrosted you should reheat them straight away
Factors to consider before freezing Baked Beans
You might be tempted to just reheat the beans from frozen. This is a bad idea for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it’ll take ages. You’ll be stood by the stove or the microwave for 15 to 20 minutes and you’ll end up with a disappointing dish.
Secondly, attempting to reheat a clump of frozen baked beans will result in an uneven application of heat.
The outer parts of the clump will likely burn, while the middle will still be frozen. Defrosting puts all the beans and meat on a level playing field.
Finally, if you jump straight to reheating, you’ll probably end up with horribly dry baked beans. You need to add water to the beans as they defrost so that they regain some moisture.
If you add water to the beans in a hot pan or a microwave on full power, the water will boil away before it can do any good.
Tinned or jarred baked beans have an incredibly long shelf life. It’s madness to open them simply for the purpose of freezing them.
However, if you have homemade baked beans or leftover baked beans from a barbeque or picnic, freezing can help them last till next time.
Make sure to freeze, defrost and reheat according to these simple instructions. That way you’ll be able to enjoy baked beans however you like.
Remember to portion them out and it’ll be easy as pie to defrost and reheat the perfect amount of baked beans.
Whether you like them ‘British’ on toast, or as an accompaniment to some barbequed ribs, baked beans are a hearty and delicious side dish and they deserve to stay that way!