How To Freeze-Dry Refried Beans

Freeze Dried Meals

Refried beans are one of Mexico’s popular dishes. It’s healthy and versatile; you can eat it as a meal, side dish, or dip. However, it takes hours to make. So why not make a huge batch that’s shelf-stable for 25-30 years? Here’s how to freeze-dry refried beans and have it ready to eat in seconds instead of hours.

What’s A Good Recipe for Refried Beans?

Is this your first time cooking refried beans? Or are you looking for a recipe that’s different from yours? Here are some recipe suggestions that you can follow.

Easy Refried Beans by COOKIE + kate

If you’re looking for a buttery, creamy texture, try this recipe by COOKIE + kate. Instead of black beans, you’ll be using pinto beans. The best part is, that this refried beans recipe works both on canned and home-cooked pinto beans. You wouldn’t even tell the difference.

Tastes Better From Scratch Recipe by Lauren Allen

How simple is this recipe? It’s made using only 5 healthy ingredients. This is made using dried black beans for authenticity. Although the author shuns the use of canned beans, you can use an Instant Pot to shorten the cooking time.

Simply Recipes by Elise Bauer

This is as simple as refried beans can get. You can use both dried and canned beans and get the same result. However, Elise noted that the longer your beans have been sitting in your pantry, the longer it will take to cook.

If you have access to the Mexican herb epazote, use it instead of oregano. It’s an herb that will take some getting used to. It’s highly aromatic and pungent, with strong notes of eucalyptus, anise, camphor, and mint. When you smell it, it will give you a strong scent similar to petroleum. Others say it’s like eating varnish, while others say the bold, strong flavor and bitter undertones is appetizing.

Allrecipes by MarasFlourpower

One home cook described this recipe as “So easy and fast, and tastes as good as the ones made from dried beans.” How fast? It will only take you 10 minutes to cook. It’s because this recipe uses canned pinto beans and very little ingredients. It’s a great recipe when you’re in a pinch, or have sudden guests over.

Isabel Eats

Almost everything you need to know about how to cook refried beans is in this recipe. Try to find Mexican oregano to make it as authentic as possible. If it’s hard to find in your area, you can work with regular oregano.

How Do I Prepare Refried Beans for Freeze-Drying

Preparing the refried beans is also as simple as how you made it. All you have to do is to get your trays and beans ready. Let your meal cool down to room temperature so it’s safe to handle and transfer to the trays.

You can line the pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat if you want. They make it easy for you to take out the freeze-dried refried beans. However, it’s not necessary. It helps lessen the mess, but you can freeze dry without it.

Separators will also work well. This will help you pre-portion your refried beans easier. This will also make it convenient for you to check for wet spots after completing the process.

Do I Pre-Freeze?

Pre-freezing is optional because your freeze dryer’s colder than your freezer. However, pre-freezing helps you lessen wear and tear on the machine. It also helps you save on costs. You already have your freezer running, might as well make the most use out of it.

Don’t sweat it if you don’t have space in your freezer. Some have successfully freeze-dried their refried beans without pre-freezing, so you should be good.

How To Freeze Dry Refried Beans

It’s easy to freeze-dry refried beans when you have your Harvest Right freeze dryer. We’ll do two versions since some still operate their machine on the old software.

For Software v5.0 and lower

  1. Turn on your freeze-dryer and press “START > NON-LIQUID”
  2. If you pre-froze your food, choose “PRE-FROZEN”. If room-temperature food, choose “NOT FROZEN.” Remember to never mix pre-frozen with non-frozen food.
  3. Wait for the machine to pre-freeze. This will take 15-30 minutes.
  4. When the machine is ready, it will tell you to load the trays in the freeze-dryer. Remember to close the drain valve.
  5. Seal the freeze dryer door and press “CONTINUE”
  6. Let the machine do its work.

If you want to adjust the cycle times, click “CUSTOMIZE > ADJUST CYCLE TIMES” and set your final dry time. Then press “DONE > START>”.

For Higher Versions v5.x.24

  1. Turn on the machine and “START”.
  2. Let the machine cool down for 15-30 minutes or until it reaches your initial freeze temperature.
  3. When the machine tells you to, close the drain valve and load the trays.
  4. Close the chamber door and check that there’s a tight seal around the ring.
  5. Press “CONTINUE” and wait for the machine to finish its work.

How Long Does It Take To Freeze-Dry Refried Beans?

Freeze drying can take up to 33 hours, depending on how much food you have. You’ll know you’re done freeze-drying when the beans feel dry, warm, hard, and flakey.

If any spots feel soft and cool, return the trays for 2-3 hours of extra dry time.

How Do I Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Refried Beans?

The best answer to that is – however you want it! Some prefer their refried beans thick and paste-like. Others prefer it to be runny and smooth. What you can do is do a 2:1 ratio at first. For every 2 parts of freeze-dried refried beans, use 1 part water.

For example, you have a cup of freeze-dried product. Use only 1/2 cup of water to reconstitute it. Then add more if you want to thin it out. It’s easier to add more water than it is to add more refried beans.

Rehydration also happens almost instantly. If you use hot water, you’ll need 3-5 minutes, depending on how creamy or chunky your recipe is. Then about 5-10 minutes if you’ll use cold water.

How Do I Store Freeze-Dried Refried Beans?

You can use Mylar bags to store your beans for up to 25-30 years. They are designed to keep away heat, light, and moisture from the food for long-term storage. If you plan to use your preserved food every now and then, then Mason jars will work.

Before sealing, make sure to use 1-2 of the 300cc packets of oxygen absorbers per gallon size of your container. They eliminate residual oxygen in your food, helping extend the shelf life.

Keep your containers in a cool, dry, dark place when everything’s packed. The temperature should be lower than 72°F (22 °C). Also, maintain the relative humidity to 15% or less.


Making freeze-dried refried beans helps you save on food and have one ready just in case. You can make a huge batch to have refried beans ready in seconds instead of hours. It’s a great way to save time, especially when you have guests or an emergency.

How will it taste? It will taste just like you made it! No one, even you, could tell the difference. There’s no flavor or texture loss that can interfere with the eating experience. It rehydrates well, stores well, and tastes excellent.

How would you like to use your freeze-dried refried beans? Let us know in the comment section.

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