View Full Version : What happens if 'canned' goods freeze?

09-27-2009, 07:00 PM
Just curious, but this year we put some shelves in the garage right adjacent to the kitchen door. We have some food on those shelves and I'm beginning to wonder about winter storage of cans of food. The garage is NOT heated. However it stays warmer than the outside air and only when the temps remain BELOW ZERO do we have problems with soda pop freezing out there. So typically things inside the garage don't freeze solid, but it does happen from time to time.

I'm wondering if any one has accidently had some of their canned food frozen solid and if so what happened? Did the can bulge and break the seal? Or was the food inside still good?

There is NOT a lot of canned food out there, but I'd like to know if I have to make alternate plans for its storage in the winter???

09-27-2009, 07:09 PM
I wouldn't take a chance (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071022213442AAbbPWB)

When commercially canned foods freeze, the food inside expands and the can may bulge or even burst. Throw cans in this condi- tion away, without tasting (don't even give it to your dog).

Even if the can is not bulging, there may be microscopic openings in the seams due to stress.

Another Read (http://web1.msue.msu.edu/imp/mod01/01600595.html)

09-27-2009, 07:25 PM
Looks like I'll need to bring them inside for the winter.

09-27-2009, 08:40 PM
Since freezing temps are below those which will grow bacteria, I'd think you could inspect the canned items before they warmed up, post freeze, and transfer them to other containers to be refrigerated before the bacteria grew. However, they would need to be consumed fairly soon after the transfer.

01-03-2010, 10:09 AM

My setup is similar to Bob's (attached garage but unheated).
Temps are running in single digits here which has gotten the garage temp into the 30's so I just pulled the canned goods out. Is there any concern with "stuff" that's not in a metal can or can I leave that there? E.g. peanut butter, mayo, ketchup, mustard...

01-03-2010, 10:17 AM
If they are in plastic and don't crack you should be OK. I would put a little heat out there to keep it 35F or a little more. Most items get that cold or more when they are on the truck going to the store in the winter.

01-03-2010, 10:19 AM
Frozen Cans
Accidentally frozen cans, such as those left in a car or basement in sub-zero temperatures, can present health problems. If the cans are merely swollen -- and you are sure the swelling was caused by freezing -- the cans may still be usable. Let the can thaw in the refrigerator before opening. If the product doesn't look and/or smell normal, throw it out. DO NOT TASTE IT! If the seams have rusted or burst, throw the cans out immediately, wrapping the burst can in plastic and disposing the food where no one, including animals can get it.


01-03-2010, 10:33 AM
If you never had salmonella or any other food poisoning, you'll never know how bad it can be. Do not take a chance. For the few dollars the goods cost, just throw them away. Your hospital bill could be 10's of thousands.

01-03-2010, 10:36 AM
If they are in plastic and don't crack you should be OK. I would put a little heat out there to keep it 35F or a little more. Most items get that cold or more when they are on the truck going to the store in the winter.
OK, we're in better shape than I thought. I put a thermometer out there and it's 39 degrees. I guess I should have done that before I emptied the shelves... I wasn't thinking but I just remembered now that our garage in the winter stays half-way between the inside house temp and the outside.
70 inside, 8 outside. Sure enough, that's 39 degrees.

For heat out there, we normally just use the engine heat when Mrs. Zoom pulls the car in when getting home from work. That raises the temp quite a bit for awhile.

01-03-2010, 12:20 PM
Hey, Zoom! If you've got an enclosed area where the goods are stored, and you can make it work, just put a 40-W light bulb in there. That'll keep it from freezing.

01-03-2010, 12:50 PM
I have thought about doing that. I have another area I want to do that to first (the sump pump in an unheated building).
I'm going to start by keeping a thermometer in that cabinet and watch the temp. I've never seen anything freeze out there but have "beefed up" our food storage there so I want to watch it more closely.

01-03-2010, 01:19 PM
Do you have propane at your place? Put a little T-stat controlled wall heater out there to maintain 40F. They make those for construction sites and they are pretty inexpensive.

01-03-2010, 04:20 PM
Propane heaters are in my shop/building. Wood burner and electric are what's at the house. I put a thermometer where the canned goods were. I'm thinking about putting a cup of water there as well. It's going to be single-digits or less each night for the next week. If the water doesn't freeze, I'll put the cans back out there.

01-03-2010, 04:25 PM
Reading this reminded me I had a bottle of wine in my truck (unopened). Man that was one cold bottle. I don't know if it would freeze or not, but it wouldn't be pretty if it did. We keep beer, pop (soda), and bottled water in the garage. Sometimes the pop will freeze. It's 14 outside and 26 in the garage. So far nothing is froze.