Most of us know that rice is a food you have to be careful with or it can make you ill. When it comes to cooking, preparing and storing cooked rice you have to do so in a way that ensures harmful bacteria can’t grow. So, can you eat cold rice or is it dangerous?
You can eat cold rice as long as it has been cooked properly and stored well in the fridge. You should eat it within 24 to 48 hours of cooking and never store it out of the fridge or harmful bacteria can easily grow.
Rice contains a bacteria called bacillus cereus and the spores of this bacteria can even survive the cooking process.
The temperature where this bacteria grows best is room temperature which is why it is so important to ensure any cooked rice is kept in the fridge and consumed within a day or two of cooking.
What Does Cold Rice Taste Like?
It will come as no surprise to learn that cold rice tastes just like rice!
The flavour itself doesn’t change much from cooked rice. It is the texture where you can notice the biggest change. Cold rice will have a thicker, slightly stodgier feel to it, rather than the light, fluffy texture you get from freshly cooked rice.
How to Eat Cold Rice
Cold rice has a surprising number of uses, from salads to throwing into your meals for quick and easy meals made from leftovers. Take a look at these ideas:
Cold rice makes fantastic salads. A great idea for a quick lunch is to open a tin of tuna and mix it into your cold rice. Chop up some spring onions, mix with cooked broccoli, sweetcorn and tomatoes and stir this through the rice and tuna.
Season with salt, pepper and a little fresh lemon juice or add your favourite salad dressing.
Make sure you keep your salad and rice in the fridge at all times until you are ready to eat it to ensure the rice doesn’t end up making you ill.
Sushi (Sort Of!)
To make sushi, you would normally use sushi rice, but if you love the flavours, then you can use your cold rice to make cold wraps and rolls that give you the flavours of sushi without having to make it from scratch yourself.
Wrap cold rice in wilted lettuce leaves with peppers and tuna for a fantastic snack or for a unique lunch.
You can make a satisfying and filling lunch by mixing up cold rice with some protein and salad and popping it into a tortilla wrap. Add some chilli sauce or your favourite dressing, and pop it in the fridge, ready for lunch.
If you want a lower-calorie alternative, then you can substitute the tortilla wrap for lettuce or cabbage leaves. Either wrap your rice and ingredients in a fresh lettuce leaf or lightly steam a cabbage leaf and use that as the wrap instead.
Leftover cold rice is fantastic to make quick and easy meals that taste delicious.
You can quickly whip up some fried rice by popping the cold and cooked rice into a wok with a little oil and your favourite veggies or a whisked egg and stir fry until the rice is fully heated throughout.
Benefits of Eating Cold Rice
The biggest benefit of eating cold rice is ensuring you don’t let food go to waste. This helps your pocket and the environment. Rice might be cheap, but this is still not an excuse to throw it out.
Dangerous of Eating Cold Rice
Cold rice can seem fairly safe and innocuous, but it can easily make you sick. It is one of the food types that are most likely to cause mild food poisoning. This is because uncooked rice contains spores of a bacteria called bacillus cereus, which is not killed off even when you cook the rice.
This means that cooked rice can still contain this bacteria, and once cooled to room temperature, this bacteria can then multiply to harmful levels.
To avoid getting sick, you should only eat cold rice if it has been kept in the fridge and is no more than 24 to 48 hours has passed since cooking the rice. Never consume rice that has been left at room temperature for more than an hour since it has been cooled.
Should You Eat Cold Rice?
As long as you can be sure that the rice is safe and you know it has been kept in the fridge, then you should eat the rice rather than allow it to be wasted.
However, if you are in any doubt about the safety of the cold rice, then you should throw it out rather than risk getting ill.
Wait! Isn’t Cold Rice Dangerous?
No, cold rice isn’t dangerous. This is a misconception that people have. The problem with reheating rice is how it is stored when it cools down. It must never be left out at room temperature for extended periods.
Cold Rice FAQs
If you’ve got other specific questions about eating cold rice then these might help:
You can reheat rice. This is not the problem. The problem is when storing the rice initially. If rice is left at room temperature for too long, then it can harbour bacteria that are not killed during the cooking process. This is why it’s vitally important you put your rice in the fridge as soon as it is cool enough.
Yes, cold rice is perfectly safe to eat. The only caution to take is to ensure it is not kept out at room temperature once it has cooled down after cooking. This is when it can become dangerous!
Generally speaking, microwave rice is cooked in the factory and sterilised in the packet. This means it’s ready to eat from the packet. Microwaving is just a quick reheat of the already cooked (and safe to eat) rice.
Yes, you can eat all types of rice cold providing that it is stored properly and not left out at room temperature where it might harvest bacteria.