Because foods frozen at peak quality will taste better than foods frozen near the end of their useful life, quickly freeze items you don’t plan to use in the next day or two.
Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent “freezer burn.” It is safe to freeze foods in their supermarket wrappings. Use them within a month or two. Many supermarket wrappings are air permeable. For longer storage, over-wrap packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place packages inside a plastic bag. Date packages and use the oldest items first.
If frozen food gets :freezer burn,” it is still safe to eat; it is merely dry in spots. Cut freezer-burned portions away either before of after cooking the food.
Freezing to 0oF. inactivates but does not destroy microbes – bacteria, yeast and molds – present in food. Once thawed, however, these microbes can again become active, multiplying under the right conditions to level that can lead to food-borne illness.
Never defrost foods outdoors, in a cold room in the house such as the basement, or on the kitchen counter. These methods encourage growth of harmful bacteria that may be present.
There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave. Food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking. It is important to plan ahead because food may take several hours to thaw in the refrigerator.