What's up with my powdery, dry black beans?
March 16, 2023 1:26 PM   Subscribe

I slow-cooked and froze some black beans about six weeks ago. On defrosting and heating a batch in the microwave, there's a weird dry, crumbly, white, powdery texture breaking out in the middle, almost like biscuit/cookie crumb. Is that normal?

I'm a bit of a black beans neophyte, so this might be totally normal, it's just very different from a previous batch that I prepared the same way, and black beans I've had from an arepas takeaway - in both those cases, the texture of the inside of each bean was more soft and mushy and moist and slightly grey, whereas this is dry and crumbly and beigey white.

This is what they look like.

I cooked them using this no soak recipe, with onion, garlic and bay leaves. No salt because I'm not fussed about salt. I think I ate some before freezing with no ill-effects, though I can't quite remember. They're frozen in single serve tupperware boxes, and I've defrosted two boxes which are both the same.

Dive in and enjoy, or treat with caution? Thanks.
posted by penguin pie to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
Best answer: This happens sometimes when microwaving beans, I eat beans like this regularly with no ill effects.
posted by momus_window at 1:29 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]

I am fairly sure that's just the inside of that particular batch of beans. But if you'd like - I'm a member of the Rancho Gordo bean club, and I'd be happy to link this and post your question in our facebook group. (If a bunch of people who are so obsessed about beans that they get them by subscription can't address this, no one can.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: EmpressCallipygos, that would be great, thank you - momus_window is reassuring, but if you have access to a whole world of bean expertise, I'd love to tap into it!

FWIW, these beans were the same brand bought on the same day as my previous batch, albeit from two different bags. No knowing for sure that they're the same batch at origin, but a reasonable chance, I'd guess.
posted by penguin pie at 1:35 PM on March 16

I think those are just a little bit freezer-burned/dried out. They may not be quite as scrupmtious as when they were fresh-cooked, but still 100% edible and safe. I would dive in.
posted by heatherlogan at 1:38 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

I have definitely seen frozen beans do this. I don't have an explanation but it isn't spoilage and they won't hurt you.
posted by pullayup at 1:41 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

My beans have looked like that before- many times. I suspect that both freezing and microwaving have driven the water out of the beans, leaving the insides with a dry, crumbly texture.
posted by niicholas at 1:45 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Something about freezing seems to be hard on beans when it comes to texture (and the microwave just makes a bad situation worse by drying them out more). I've found the best method is to freeze them in plenty of liquid (enough to cover). Both dry and refried end up significantly worse, but a soupy texture seems to yield the best results when frozen and also when microwaved. Not quite as good as fresh, but not bad.
posted by ssg at 2:17 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]

Definitely freezer burn. Residential freezers just don't have what it takes to VERY QUICKLY freeze things so that freezer burn doesn't happen. This batch maybe had a little more air in it before freezing or maybe it was slightly underfilled or something. Agree with ssg's suggestion to add liquid to cover before freezing.

Eat 'em. The mouthfeel miiiiiiight be off and they might taste a little...freezer-burny (can't really describe what that is but I know it when I taste it), but they're not going to make you sick at all.

(bona fides: I'm a former chef.)
posted by cooker girl at 3:44 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]

It's a type of freezer burn from the inside out of various clumps, exacerbated by the no-soak method/being on the firmer side.

Also it looks like you kind of scraped/stirred it before fully thawed right? That allows a type of breakage and view you typically won't see at room temp.

I would eat and enjoy!
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:26 PM on March 16

Best answer: My life advice re frozen beans (rancho gordo bean club represents!(oh God, I'm old)) is to slow defrost your individual containers in the fridge overnight (2 days?) and then just reheat in the microwave or stove top, probably with a bit of water a la reheating rice.
posted by atomicstone at 4:26 PM on March 16

Best answer: The Bean People are saying either freezer burn, or a few beans that just got overcooked and exploded. Possibly a combination of the two.

Not dangerous. Maybe not a pleasant texture, but not dangerous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]

a question about
posted by calgirl at 5:42 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]

a question about

You're over thinking this.
posted by miles1972 at 11:39 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I declare this plate of beans overthinking event resolved! Best answers for momus window for getting there first, for ssg and atomicstone for their suggestions on how to avoid in future, and for EmpressCallipygos for bringing in The Bean People to bear on the issue. But in fact the weight of consensus was helpful in itself, so all answers greatly appreciated!
posted by penguin pie at 6:01 AM on March 17

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