Microwaves have made all of our lives tremendously easier. We now have the convenience of reheating leftover food in just a few minutes. Our fire-discovering ancestors would be extremely proud of our progress. It would appear that the entire process of microwaving leftovers is fairly simple and requires little to no thought. On the contrary, there may be several things that you’re overlooking that could affect your health. Read on to make sure you’re doing things right when it comes to leftovers.
1. Keep Food Warm Even After Cooking It
It is essential for us to keep food warm even after cooking it. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F. After food is safely cooked, hot food must be kept hot at 140° F or warmer to prevent bacterial growth.” Keep in mind that the maximum period that you can keep the food at room temperature is for a period of two hours after cooking. Immediately after this two hour period it is advisable to begin the refrigeration period.
2. Store In Airtight Containers
Once the cooked food has been left to cool for a short period of time (not more than two hours) it is then essential to store them well. Try using airtight glass or stainless steel containers to store food. Keep in mind that storing hot foods in plastic containers is not always advisable.
3. Don’t Rely On Smell And Taste Alone
When it comes to judging whether the leftovers in question are good to be eaten, we most often rely on how it smells or how it tastes. Many of us don’t realize that foods that smell and taste fine could have already started to go bad. This makes it essential for us to keep in mind the shelf life of various foods. For example, raw fish tends to go bad very quickly.
4. Reheating Leftovers
When reheating leftovers, the first thing to keep in mind is to heat only the quantity needed. If you reheat a whole plate and eat only half of it, you will have to throw out the rest. The second thing to remember when it comes to reheating is to bring the temperature of the foods up to 165° F. According to the USDA, “When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate the food for even heating. Arrange food items evenly in a covered microwave safe glass or ceramic dish, and add some liquid if needed. Be sure the covering is microwave safe, and vent the lid or wrap to let the steam escape. The moist heat that is created will help destroy harmful bacteria and will ensure uniform cooking.”
5. Three Foods To Be Particularly Careful About
It turns out that rice is one of those foods that you should be extremely careful about when it comes to leftovers. Studies have found that it is possible for uncooked rice to contain spores that remain even after the rice has been cooked. These spores turn into bacteria when the rice is left to cool. It is recommended that rice should not be left to cool for more than an hour. After this period of time, the leftover rice should be refrigerated immediately.
According to the FDA, “79,000 cases of food borne illness and 30 deaths each year are caused by eating eggs contaminated with Salmonella. FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage, but consumers also play a key role in preventing illness linked to eggs.” It is recommended that we don’t use egg leftovers that are more than three to four days old. Also, if we have a large quantity of a dish that contains egg, we can split them into smaller containers in order to cool them faster before refrigerating.
If you’ve cooked potatoes along with the skin then you might want to be careful when it comes to reheating them. A specific bacteria found on potato skins thrives in warm and low-oxygen conditions. These conditions are met when when cooked potatoes are stored in foil. Just ensure that even if the potatoes are cooked with the foil, to take it off prior to storing.