When it comes to freezing foods, cooked foods intended to be frozen should not be left out at ambient temperature or on the counter for extended periods. Usually 40 minutes is safe and the general rule of thumb is 2 hours.
This depends on what the temperature is of course. Meaning, high temperature 27 to +32 °C (80 to 90 °F) should be less time out and therefore leaning more to 40 minutes than 2 hours.
Anyone working in a commercial kitchen will know that these temperatures are not unusual.
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
When defrosting frozen food, it’s best to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 5 °C (40 °F) or below.
Cool freshly cooked food as quickly as possible before freezing foods. Placing foods that are still warm in the freezer can raise the temperature, causing surrounding frozen items to partially defrost and refreeze. Which can alter the taste and texture of some foods.
Foods that have already thawed or defrosted can be refrozen if the below was followed :
- These foods were defrosted in a fridge and the cold chain was maintained.
- These foods were kept for less than 3 days in a fridge.
- Foods should be wrapped or sealed to be airtight.
Foods purchased/delivered frozen should go straight into the freezer and can be kept frozen.
If these foods were placed in a fridge to defrost, then the above Point 2 applies.
Tip for freezing foods: The original packaging that is used in retail stores is permeable to air and is often not suitable for long term storage. It is best to provide additional wrapping on such products in order to prevent degradation and freezer burn.