Canned tuna is a very popular pantry item, and for good reason. It can last for quite a long time kept in the pantry, it tastes good, there is so much you can do with it, and it is considerably healthy for you too!
Canned tuna can make a quick lunch fix when you need it, but you might find yourself with some tuna left over, and you obviously wouldn’t want this to go to waste.
Can you freeze canned tuna? You can freeze canned tuna, and following the right preparation for freezing, you can successfully freeze canned tuna to be enjoyed again at a later stage. Freezing canned tuna is a great way to make the most of each can and reduce food waste in your kitchen.
So, read on to find out more on how you can freeze canned tuna, whether opened or not and the best way to do so, in order for the tuna to keep its best quality!
Can You Freeze Tuna In The Can?
You should not freeze tuna when it is still in the can.
Tin is not a suitable freezer container, and it will need to be transferred to another container before freezing.
There really wouldn’t be a need to freeze unopened cans of tuna, as it can usually last for a really long time in the pantry with little change to the tuna meat.
If you have opened a can of tuna, and want to keep it simple by freezing the leftover tuna in the can, this is not a good idea.
Canned tuna will need to be removed from the can before freezing, whether you have to open the can to do so or move leftover tuna from the can to a freezer-friendly material.
What Is The Best Way To Freeze Canned Tuna?
The best way to freeze canned tuna is to place it into a freezer-friendly container, whether this is a freezer-safe air-tight container or a freezer-safe plastic sealable bag.
These will help to keep the tuna protected in the freezer, whereas tin will not.
Make sure that you choose containers or bags that are freezer-safe, as they will keep the tuna protected from frost and will stop the odor of the tuna from spreading to other foods in the freezer.
How To Freeze Canned Tuna
Freezing canned tuna is fairly simple, but you do need to follow the below steps in order to keep the tuna protected in the freezer and to ensure that the tuna keeps its best quality while frozen.
Here is how to freeze canned tuna:
- Open the can of tuna if it is not open already, and fully remove the lid from the can so it does not pose any injury risk as you are moving the tuna out of the can.
- Transfer the canned tuna into a freezable air-tight plastic container, or into a plastic freezer bag that can be sealed.
- If using a plastic freezer bag, make sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing.
- If using a freezable airtight container, make sure there is at least a ¾-inch space between the tuna and the top of the container — this is to allow for expansion.
- If you do not leave this ¾-inch space in the airtight container, then there is a chance that the container might explode in the freezer, and you could have tuna all over.
- Using a permanent marker, label the container or the plastic bag with the name of the contents and the date of freezing. This will help you keep track of when you need to use the tuna by as well as easily identify it in the freezer.
- Place the canned tuna into the freezer, making sure that it is at a constant temperature of 0°F or lower.
- If you are using a plastic freezer bag to freeze the canned tuna, you can lay it down flat in the freezer to save some space.
How Long Can Canned Tuna Be Frozen For?
Canned tuna, if prepared properly, can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.
It is ideal to label the tuna when you are freezing it so that you can keep an eye on when the tuna needs to be used by, and eat it before it has been left in the freezer for three months.
The tuna will still be fine to eat after this, but it will likely not be at its best quality — it will lose flavor and color, and there might be some frost on it.
The longer you leave the canned tuna in the freezer, the more the quality will decline, so it is worthwhile to stick to the recommended freezer duration.
How To Thaw Frozen Canned Tuna
Knowing how to freeze canned tuna is helpful, but it is not as helpful if you do not know how to thaw the tuna properly when it is time to eat!
The best way to thaw canned tuna is to remove the canned tuna from the freezer container and place it in the refrigerator. It will take a day or so to thaw fully, so you will have to plan ahead a bit.
Thawing canned tuna in the refrigerator (not leaving it out at room temperature or in a hot water bath) will keep it at a safe temperature throughout, which is great to retain its quality and prevent the chance of any bacterial growth.
Once the canned tuna has been thawed, you can leave it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
If you warm up the tuna after thawing, then it will need to be consumed, as you cannot then place warmed tuna back into the fridge after this — only warm up what you will eat!
What To Do With Frozen Canned Tuna
Canned tuna will taste slightly different after freezing compared to when you first open the can — the texture might be slightly different, too.
You can eat the tuna as is, but if you do not enjoy the slightly different texture (which could be either mushier or dryer), then there are other ways you can use the frozen canned tuna.
By adding the thawed canned tuna to certain meals, you can hide the slight changes it has gone through during freezing.
Here are some great ways that you can use frozen canned tuna after it thaws:
- Make a tuna casserole
- Bake a tuna pasta
- Add the tuna to a salad
- Make tuna mayonnaise sandwiches
- Make tuna fishcakes
- Make tuna quesadillas
- Cook a simple tuna spaghetti
Can I Store Leftover Canned Tuna In The Fridge Instead?
If you are not wanting to freeze the leftover tuna that you have, and you are planning on using it soon, then you can keep it in the fridge.
To store leftover canned tuna in the fridge, you must remove it from the tin container, as this could become rusty once it has been opened.
Move the canned tuna into a glass or plastic container with an air-tight seal — try to keep some of the liquid in, too, to prevent the tuna from drying out.
Keep the tuna at the back of the refrigerator, and make sure to use it within 2 days. If you have not used the tuna within 2 days, then it is probably best to throw it out.
Do not place tuna back in the fridge if it has been reheated, as the chance of bacteria growth would be high and it is not worth the risk.
You can successfully freeze canned tuna, but you need to make sure to prepare it properly before freezing and put it into a freezer-safe container, as it should not be frozen in the can it came in.
Once frozen, canned tuna should be used within 3 months, so it is important to label the freezer container with the date of freezing to keep track of this.
When it is time to eat the frozen tuna, remove it from the freezer (still in the container) and place it in the refrigerator to slowly defrost over a day or so.
Have a look above at some of our ideas on how you can use leftover canned tuna in the best way possible!
Is canned tuna healthy?
Canned tuna is rich in protein and contains numerous nutrients and vitamins, which are beneficial to your diet, as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are always good to include in your diet.
However, like with everything, it should be consumed in moderation.
How do you know if canned tuna has gone bad?
To tell if canned tuna has gone bad, look for dark streaks across the flesh, whether black or brown. There will be discoloration in the tuna — if you notice this, then you should throw the tuna out and not try to eat it.
The tuna might also have a rancid odor, and it could even have a green tint to it.