Did you know you could get food poisoning from cooked rice? Well, in this case, what you don’t know can hurt you. Here’s everything you need to know about reheating rice:
First Thing’s First: Is It Safe to Eat Leftover Rice?
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
Yes, you can reheat leftover rice—but you should take proper precautions. Not preparing, storing, and reheating rice correctly can lead to unpleasant and dangerous food poisoning symptoms.
Related: 50+ Easy Recipes That Start With a Bag of Rice
Leftover Rice and Food Poisoning
Uncooked rice contains a bacteria called Bacillus Cereus, which contains extremely heat-resistant spores. These spores may survive cooking and, when left at room temperature, can multiply and cause food poisoning.
There’s even a name for this phenomenon: fried rice syndrome.
Symptoms of foodborne illness caused by Bacillus cereus are diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, nausea and vomiting. Onset of symptoms can occur anywhere from 30 minutes to 15 hours after eating the infected food. Most people who get sick from contaminated rice recover in about 24 hours and don’t need medical intervention. Food poisoning can cause serious complications, though, like dehydration. Call your doctor ASAP if you’re experiencing extreme thirst or dry mouth, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or confusion.
Many people are unaware of the dangers of leftover cooked rice. For many meal preppers, it’s a weekly or daily staple. If this sounds like you, don’t panic: This information certainly doesn’t mean you should immediately toss your rice leftovers.
Related: What Is Food Poisoning and How Do You Treat It?
The Best (and Safest) Way to Cook, Store, and Reheat Rice
You can have your rice and reheat it too with just a few simple safety measures:
- Cook the rice properly. The danger zone, according to the USDA, is between 40° and 140°. Bacteria grows rapidly in this range. Make sure rice (and anything else that may contain illness-causing bacteria) is thoroughly cooked before you eat it.
- Eat or store the rice immediately. Don’t let it sit on the counter for too long—the spores can start multiplying in under an hour. Store your leftover rice in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to 24 hours.
- Reheat it to a piping hot temperature, or at least 165°. Use a food thermometer if you’re not sure.
- To microwave: Add one tablespoon of water for each cup of cooked rice. Microwave (covered in a microwave-safe storage container—the lid will help re-steam the rice) for three to four minutes.
- To stir-fry: Cook the cold rice in a pan or wok as you normally would with the oil of your choice. Stir continuously, breaking up any clumps. Serve immediately when the rice has reached 165°.
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