Cooking large batches of food in one go and storing a part of it for later use is something we all tend to do to save us some time and effort. Of all the foods, rice is most commonly eaten the next day or days after, as well. What we don't realise is that this 'convenience cooking' may actually have adverse effects on our health. Uncooked rice contains bacteria called Bacillus Cereus that is highly resistant to cooking procedures. Heat can destroy the bacteria but it can also produce some spores that are toxic in nature. According to the Food Standards Agency, "Uncooked rice can contain spores of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive; but if the rice is then left standing at room temperature, the spores will multiply and may cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Reheating the rice will only make it worse."
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If rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores will multiply.
Now, before you just toss out that leftover rice you had been planning on eating later, know that it's not that bad after all. If you store and reheat your rice properly, you can still eat it without worrying about falling sick.
There are some general rules of thumb you should follow while cooking, storing and reheating rice for more than one-time meal, and you are good to go.
- While cooking, make sure that rice in cooked at a high temperature and served immediately once cooked.
- Don't leave cooked rice sitting out in room temperature for more than an hour. It might lead to multiplying of spores present in the rice.
- Let the rice cool down quickly after cooking and put in a refrigerator with temperature of 40 degrees or below.
Let the rice cool down quickly after cooking and put in a refrigerator
Now, that your rice is stored safely in the refrigerator, make sure to consume it within 24 hours. The most important thing to remember is that don't just heat it till it's warm. Rice should be 'steaming hot' all the way through to render it fit for eating again.
- If you reheating in microwave, add 1 tablespoon water for each cup of rice and heat till water is absorbed.
- If you are heating on cooking stove, stir fry it by adding water, oil or butter and cook it till dry.
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If you are heating rice on cooking stove, stir fry it by adding water, oil or butter.
This method makes sure that rice is heated throughout and all the toxic bacteria are killed. Another logic given by health experts is that stored rice becomes dry after some time. Adding water and reheating it replenishes its lost water content and hydrates the grains back again.
Reheated rice is safe to consume if certain measures are taken to ensure its safety. But, please make sure that you don't reheat the leftover rice more than once and flip it into trash, if it's more than three days old.