Can you refrigerate or freeze cooked rice and then reheat it? What are the rules around reheating cooked rice that has been frozen?
The answer is yes. You can reheat frozen or chilled rice, but you need to know the rules and be really careful to avoid food poisoning.
1. You must only chill or freeze rice that you have freshly cooked. Do not chill or freeze rice from a takeaway as this has possibly already been cooked, allowed to cool and then reheated.
2. Cool the rice as quickly as possible. Do not leave at room temperature for long before chilling or freezing.
3. Freeze in portion sizes so that it is easy to defrost. This will avoid having to defrost too much or throw the extra away.
4. Thoroughly reheat the rice ensuring it is piping hot throughout.
5. Once reheated, whatever you don’t eat must be thrown away. Do not allow the rice to cool down and be reheated again. Bin it.
So what’s the big deal? Why all this fuss about storing rice and reheating it?
The NHS website tells you that uncooked rice can potentially contain spores of Bacillus Cereus, bacteria that can cause food poisoning. These spores can survive the cooking process.
If the rice is left for time at room temperature, those surviving spores can grow into bacteria. The bacteria will multiply quickly and can produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea.
The longer the cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins will make the rice dangerous to eat. So ideally, serve the rice as soon as it has been cooked. If that is not possible for any reason, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour).
If you are keeping the rice in the fridge, only refrigerate it for no more than a day before reheating. When you do reheat rice, always ensure that the rice is steaming hot all the way through.