Can you reheat rice, is it safe, or is it dangerous? The short answer is that yes, you can reheat rice – but what you do need to understand is why people think reheating rice is dangerous.
I reheat rice all the time – every time I buy a takeaway, every time I cook rice at home myself, I always have leftovers for reheating the next day. Rice makes up a lot of what I eat, so I’ve been reheating rice leftovers regularly for years.
The most important thing about reheating rice is how you cooled/stored it in the first place. It is essential that you cool down any leftover rice as soon as possible and get it into the fridge in a sealed pot. I always use the “one hour rule” for rice. If you have not cooled/boxed and stored leftover rice within 1 hour you’re on dodgy ground. If you’ve left rice sitting around for a few hours, or overnight, ALWAYS bin it.
There are spores which might survive the cooking process, if any spores have survived then the longer the rice is left out at room temperature, the more they can multiply – and they have the potential to cause food poisoning. It is for this reason that you have to cool/store rice quickly if you are going to reheat rice later. So, not all rice has these spores …. but you need to assume it might have them. The spores are bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning. So there are a few “ifs” in there, but never take a chance!
With plain, white, rice, I’ll cool the leftovers quickly and box them up and into the fridge soonest – sometimes after I’ve served up my meal and before I eat it – that way I won’t forget. With indian and chinese takeaway rice I’ll put it in a cold place for half an hour or so, then clear a spot in the fridge for it to continue cooling, although after half an hour it’s pretty cold. Obviously it’s important that if you put something warm in the fridge it shouldn’t be close to anything else as you can’t risk warming other things up – but if you’ve a pretty clear fridge, or can clear a good space, then that’s fine. Similarly for the freezer, if you’ve got an empty shelf in the freezer, then put it in there to cool down for half an hour or so before transferring to the fridge. Or, if you’ve got a stock of ice cubes, then stand the rice container in ice to cool it quickly.
So you can reheat rice – but it is VITAL that you cool/store it quickly, within an hour is best.
Next is the reheating rice itself – cooked rice that has been cooled/stored in a fridge should still be eaten within 24 hours. You can reheat it by any method you choose, but it is ESSENTIAL that the reheated rice is steaming hot all the way through. Never reheat rice more than once.
REHEATING Rice Rules:
• Cool rice within one hour of cooking it
• Keep it in the fridge, in a sealed box, this will keep it fresh so it won’t dry out
• Reheat rice within 24 hours
• Make sure the rice is piping hot before serving
• Never reheat rice more than once.
So that’s it – many people reheat rice and there’s no problem whatsoever. But it’s important you understand how to cool rice and how to reheat it properly – the danger period is at the cooling stage, not the reheating stage!