Can Canned Goods be Frozen?


Can canned goods be frozen?
Are frozen cans safe?


As a general rule, canned goods should never be frozen. Although freezing extends the shelf life of most foods, canning already extends the shelf life of its contents as far as possible.

If a known perfectly fine canned good becomes accidentally frozen, it can be used only if it is properly defrosted before use. If an unknown can is found frozen and has expanded, it should be properly discarded for reasons detailed below.

can cans freeze

Can Canned Goods be Frozen?

Liquids expand when frozen.
Since most canned goods are suspended in some sort of liquid, they will expand when frozen and may then force the can to expand. Expanded cans are also a tell tale sign of botulism, which can cause extreme sickness and even death if consumed. Therefore, for safety reasons, all expanded cans should be properly disposed. [1]

If a known safe canned good is accidentally left outside or has otherwise become frozen, it can be consumed only if it is then properly thawed in a refrigerator.
Leave the can intact and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before opening. Swollen or not, cans should be discarded if they are thawed above the safe 40 °F threshold. Inspect the contents of the can after properly thawing. As always, if the food inside the can does not look or smell normal, it should be thrown out without tasting.

Even if the food does look normal upon opening, the contents should be immediately cooked thoroughly by boiling for 10 to 20 minutes.
Boiling time depends upon altitude and type of food contained in the can. Foods should boil for 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 feet, adding an additional minute for each additional 1,000 feet. Because of the high density of spinach and corn, they should be boiled for 20 minutes regardless of altitude. These foods can be refrigerated or frozen for later use once they have been boiled, according to the USFDA.

Cans that have thawed properly and then refrozen should also be discarded.

Can Canned Goods be Frozen?

Additional Information

To find out how long canned goods last, see our canned vegetable page.

For more information on freezing foods, see our freezer post.

For an answer to the question of a freezer killing germs, see this other freezer post.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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