The Key Step You Shouldn't Skip When Freezing Refried Canned Beans

Refried beans are one of the absolute best canned foods to stock in your pantry. The savory beans come in handy when making enchiladas, tostadas, tacos, and basically any Mexican recipe you're cooking. That said, you won't always need to use an entire can, which means you might want to stow away the rest of them in the freezer. When that happens, make sure you take those leftover refried beans out of the can first.

It's so easy to just cover up an opened can of refried beans and store it in the freezer, but this method can generate a mess that no one wants to clean up. Canned refried beans contain liquid that will eventually freeze when placed in colder temperatures. As the liquid expands, it may cause the can to explode. When the can is forcefully opened, the beans are exposed to bacteria in the freezer air. Furthermore, thawing the beans while they're still in the can could also lead to bacterial growth.

Instead, remove the leftover refried beans and place them in airtight, freezer-safe containers before storing. It's best to portion them out into small containers for future servings, as refreezing food that has been thawed could make it too soft. Finally, label each container with the date you put it in the freezer — the beans should last for three months and potentially up to a year.

How to thaw frozen refried beans

Leaving frozen items out on the counter is a mistake everyone makes with frozen food, and unfortunately it's a practice that may lead to bacterial growth. It's easy to forget about something when it's out on the counter, and if it reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it enters the "danger zone," making it unsafe to eat. Instead of the counter, when it comes time to use the frozen refried beans, place the container in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly. If you need to use the beans immediately, try defrosting them in the microwave by heating on low in 30 second intervals. As soon as you've finished defrosting the beans, cook them immediately. The water that they release after thawing is enough to make them mushy, so you'll want to heat them up as soon as you can.

If the beans have gone bad, however, you'll want to toss them. It may be difficult to assess signs of spoilage while the refried beans are still frozen. Once they're thawed, be on the lookout for any discoloration, mold, or odd smells. Beans that have ice crystals or a slimy texture should also be thrown away. They may not always display physical signs of spoilage, but if they taste sour, it's best to discard the beans.