One of the victims of Washington's frigid climate has been the frozen can of food.

Cans stored in an unheated pantry, garage or basement have been freezing and many people are wondering if the contents are safe to use.

That depends, according to a spokesman for the National Canners Association.

If a glass jar cracked when the contents froze, it must be discarded. But it is a good idea to wait until a frozen can defrosts before deciding whether it is safe to eat.

If a can leaks or remains bulged after the contents thaw, it must be thrown without tasting . Both ends of the can should be checked after thawing to see that they have returned to their normal, flat shape. If not, it means that air has gotten into the can and the contents will spoil.

Can can be thawed in a pan of warm water or by leaving them at room temperature. Don't put them at room temperature. Don't put them in the oven or directly on the stove: They might explode.

Some baby food jars have caps with a "dimple" on the top. If the dimple is depressed, the jar's protective seal has not broken, so the food is safe.

Freezing may result in a breakdown of texture, the Canners Association said. Sauces and creamy foods may seperate. They can be stirred together during heating.

Frozen containers that have thawed should be wiped immediately to prevent rusting.

But to prevent any of these things from happening, NCA recommends storing canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is moderately cool.