If you’ve made too much rice and have plenty leftover, don’t give in to the urge to throw it into the bin. Leftover rice can be put to good use, be it to make rice pudding or fried rice or eat plain as is.
Leftover cooked rice can be stored, but it has a limit on how long it can be kept. Cooked rice must be handled and stored carefully to prevent food poisoning. Read on for tips on how to store rice safely after cooking it.
How Long Can Cooked Rice Be Stored?
Cooked rice does not have a very long shelf life and should be eaten as soon as possible. But if cooked rice is cooled and stored properly, it can keep for a few days. But it is essential to store the rice in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible after cooking it.
Avoid leaving cooked rice out at room temperature for more than an hour. Cooked rice is moist and is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
So, if the rice has been sitting out on the kitchen counter for over 2 hours, then it is best to throw it away as eating it can cause food poisoning.
In the fridge, cooked rice can be stored for up to 3 to 5 days. In the freezer, cooked rice can be stored for up to 6 months. Foods including cooked rice must be stored at a safe temperature i.e., below 40° F.
Typically, bacteria grow at around 90°F and they grow and multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F.
And, before eating it, the cooked rice must be reheated properly and served steaming hot as it may contain Bacillus cereus spores that can multiply rapidly at room temperature and cause food poisoning.
Storing Cooked Rice In the Fridge
If you plan to store cooked rice in the fridge, then you must first cool it quickly. You can do this by spreading the rice out on a baking tray. Once the rice has cooled, transfer the rice into an airtight container and store it in the fridge.
Avoid using the take-out boxes made of cardboard to store the cooked rice because they can let air in and make the rice hard and chewy.
Storing Cooked Rice In The Freezer
You can store cooked rice in the freezer for up to 6 months. To freeze the rice, cool the rice down quickly, as described earlier. Once the rice is cooled, transfer it into a freezer bag. Remove the air from the bag before sealing it and place it flat in the freezer.
This will help to defrost the rice more quickly when required and it will also take up less space in the freezer. You can use the frozen cooked rice directly in dishes such as stir-fries, stews, casseroles and soup.
If you’re planning to eat the rice, thaw it, reheat and eat.
How To Reheat Cooked Rice
When you’re reheating cooked rice that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer, ensure that it is piping hot. Here are some ways of reheating the rice.
In The Microwave
Transfer the rice to a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle some water on the rice and add a splash of oil or some butter. Cover the dish and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on high. Stir the rice gently with a fork.
Take care not to mash up the rice. Microwave again for 1 to 2 minutes until the rice is heated thoroughly and is steaming hot.
On The Stovetop
Place the rice in a saucepan and sprinkle water. Break up any clumps in the rice. Add a splash of oil or some butter if required. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on low heat. Sir occasionally, until the rice is steamed through properly and is piping hot.
In The Oven
Place the rice in a dish and break up any clumps. Add a splash of oil or some butter and some water to the rice. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at around 300°F until the rice is heated through.
In The Rice Cooker
You can reheat the rice in a rice cooker. Many rice cookers have a keep warm or reheat setting that you can use. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the rice and press the reheat button on the rice cooker.
The rice will take a lot longer to be reheated in a rice cooker compared to the other reheating methods.
How To Tell If Cooked Rice Has Gone Bad
Some of the signs that cooked rice has gone bad are:
- If the rice is not moist and soft and instead is hard and dry. Each day that you store the rice in the fridge, it will lose more of the moisture till it becomes dry and hard and you will have to then throw it away.
- If the rice develops a sour or unpleasant smell, this is a definite sign that the rice has gone bad.
- If the cooked rice was left out at room temperature for over two hours, then it is best to discard it.
- Ideally, cooked food, including rice must not be cooled and reheated too many times as this encourages bacterial growth. Avoid reheating rice more than once. After this, it is best to bin any leftovers.
How To Store Rice After Cooking: Parting Thoughts
Rice is a very versatile staple and extremely easy-to-cook dish. But the important thing is that if you have any leftovers, the cooked rice must be handled and stored properly so that it is safe to consume even after a few days without causing food poisoning.
We hope that our article has given you all the information you need on how to store cooked rice and reheat it before serving. And, if you see any signs that the rice has gone bad, it is best to discard it, lest it causes harm.