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Avoid Food Poisoning By Storing Your Leftover Rice Properly

Don't take leftovers for granted.

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Photography: Shutterstock (main)

Food poisoning is one of those things that happen to us when we least expect it. It's an unassuming thing because you don't know you're doing it until you develop symptoms. By then, it's too late.

You can prevent food poisoning by not only properly preparing and cooking your food but also by storing your food correctly, too. You already know that you should avoid cross-contaminating food, especially raw chicken. Cooking food to the right temperature is easy to do when it's freshly cooked since many ulam dishes are cooked at a high enough temperature. This is usually for at least 5 minutes so that any bacteria are killed before you serve the dish. You also already know that you need to refrigerate any leftover food, too, so you can have delicious leftovers later in the day or even the next day.

However, rice is one food that is often neglected. That's because many of us own and use a rice cooker. Rice cookers are one of the most essential kitchen appliances you will own, especially if you eat rice with your meals. Even if you don't, this is easily the appliance to turn to because it can also cook other grains and even be used as a steamer.

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The rice cooker is super useful in cooking rice, but did you know that you need to store cooked rice within four hours? Any leftover food, especially rice, should be not be left at room temperature beyond that time. In fact, leftover rice can cause food poisoning if left out for too long. You should always rinse the rice well before cooking and store it within a certain time frame so bacteria is less likely to grow to dangerous levels. 

How do you store leftover rice properly? Here's what to do:

1. Safely cool cooked rice.

You may not need to do this but it's a safe way to store rice. The warmth in the rice can promote the growth of more of that bacteria you're trying to stop from multiplying. To do this, you need to cool the rice down. Here's how to do it quickly and safely:

  • Make an ice bath.
  • Submerge the bottom of the rice cooker bowl in the cold water. You can also transfer the rice into a smaller bowl or container to make this easier.
  • Stir or otherwise toss the rice until cooled down.
  • Transfer to a storage container.
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You can also aim a fan towards the rice and fan it to more quickly cool down the rice before storing.

2. Transfer to a clean and dry container.

You may not see if but even water can be a cause for contamination. Unless you use clean, filtered water to rinse your dishes when washing, the water from the tap can contain bacteria that can spoil your food while in storage. To safely store food better, use a clean and dry container to store your food.

3. Use an air-tight lid.

Always use a lid to store food. This will not only prevent cross-contamination while in storage but it will also prevent the food from absorbing any odors from other food in the refrigerator and vice versa. 

Stay safe and follow these tips to prevent food poisoning.

* * *

This story originally appeared on Yummy.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Realliving.com.ph editors.

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