Safely Freezing & Defrosting Foods
You can safely freeze almost any food. Food stored constantly at zero degrees Fahrenheit will stay safe almost indefinitely. Some exceptions are eggs in shells and canned foods, which shouldn't be frozen. However, once food is out of the can, you may freeze it.
Safety is one thing, quality is another. Some foods simply don't freeze well. Examples are mayonnaise, cream sauce and lettuce. Raw meat and poultry maintain their quality longer than their cooked counterparts because moisture is lost during cooking.
There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the fridge. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each five pounds of weight.
For faster defrosting, place food in a watertight plastic bag (to keep out bacteria) and immerse it in cold water. Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold, and change it every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook it immediately. When defrosting food in the microwave, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook in the microwave.
Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it's safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods that were previously frozen, it's safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously frozen cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it's been handled properly.