Step away from the aluminum foil …

By Stacey Ballis
May 24, 2020
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Are we tired of beans yet? I didn’t think so. If there is one thing that I am glad is coming out of all of this at-home pandemic cookery is the bean renaissance. Look no further than the release of Joe Yonan’s exceptional Cool Beans cookbook and Rancho Gordo’s continued world dominance of the high-end bean market currently being made even sweeter by owner Steve Sando’s hilarious presence on Twitter. Bean recipes are everywhere and there are plenty of things to do with beans you may not have even thought of.

But the nice thing about beans is that they are great even if you didn’t ever make it off the waitlist for the elusive Rancho Gordo bean club. (I’m still waiting.) You can make wonderful dishes with your basic grocery store dried beans, and there is absolutely no shame in the canned beans game.

We are all-in on beans, and that means only one thing.

We are storing a lot of leftover beans.

If you cooked your own beans, you can store them exactly as you would any leftovers. But what if you opened a can of beans and didn’t need all of it? I know it is very tempting to just slap a piece of foil on the top of the open can and stash it in the fridge, but there are smarter ways to save those beans.

Here’s your step-by-step guide:

1. Get them out of the can

Storing anything canned in the fridge is not ideal, according to Carl Batt, a food microbiologist at Cornell University. For one, it’s hard to get a good seal over a can, which can lead to foods drying out and taking on flavors/scents from elsewhere in the refrigerator. Second, while leaching of metal into your canned goods is likely not a health concern, it can affect flavor. Recycle that can and store your leftover beans in glass or plastic. Depending on how much I am storing I might use a small ball jar or a plastic deli container.

2. Rinse them off.

Just put them in a colander and run cold water over them until the water runs clear, then let them sit and drain for about 10 minutes to ensure minimal moisture.

3. Decide how long you might store them.

Once they are clean and dry, decide how fast you are likely to use them. Going to put them on a salad or cook with them within 24 hours? Just close them up and fridge them. Need them to last a few days in the fridge? Cover with a layer of olive oil to protect them from drying out. If your recipe uses oil, you can use the oil from the beans; if it doesn’t, they can be strained and the oil reserved for vinaigrettes or other purposes. If your next use doesn’t require oil, just rinse them off again before use.

If you aren’t planning to use the beans within five days, the best thing to do is freeze them. Put them in a freezer bag or a freezer safe plastic tub, cover with fresh water, and freeze. You can drain off the water when they are thawed out and use however you like.