Cooking food in excess then basically reheating it each time you want to eat saves you a lot of time. However, it is important to know that if you reheat leftovers the wrong way it could actually lead to food poisoning. Thus, this article aims at giving tips for reheating leftovers so that they retain their original taste without causing food poisoning.
General rules for reheating leftovers
- Reheat leftovers that are stored in the refrigerator within a period of two days to avoid any cases of food poisoning.
- Defrost leftovers stored in the freezer before reheating them. This will help to make sure that they reheat evenly.
- Do not freezer leftovers that have been defrosted as this can affect the texture of the food and also it exposes the leftovers to unwanted bacteria.
- Do not reheat leftovers more than once as this exposes the food to bacteria. So if you have a lot of leftovers simply divide them into smaller portions and only reheat the portion that you want to eat at that particular moment.
- Reheat food until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. If you do not have a thermometer at your disposal just ensure that the food is hot throughout.
- Serve leftovers as soon as they have reheated because if you serve them while cold they will be exposed to bacteria and you can end up getting sick.
How to reheat leftovers
There is a general rule on reheating leftovers and that rule is you should always reheat your leftovers using the same appliance that cooked the food. For example if you cooked your food on the stove then you should always reheat it on the stove and if you had prepared it in the oven then you should reheat it using the oven. However, sometimes you might not find yourself with the luxury of having a full kitchen at your disposal. Here are 3 main appliances that you can use to reheat certain foods.
Reheating leftovers using the microwave
NB: this is one of the most commonly used appliance for reheating foods.
The microwave can be used to reheat a number of foods but the texture of some foods suffers in the process. This is because the microwave radiates a lot of heat thus, if you reheat fried foods in the microwave they will turn soggy and lose their crispiness. When reheating foods in the microwave it is important to cover the leftovers with a damp cloth or wet paper towel. Then reheat the food. You should constantly stir the foods after every 30 seconds or 1 minute so that the food can reheat evenly.
Leftovers that can be reheated in the microwave
- Stews and soups
- Steamed or boiled vegetables
- Sautés and stir-fries
- Rice, pasta, and noodles
Reheating leftovers using the toaster oven
NB: you can use the toaster oven to reheat leftovers that were previously cooked in the oven.
The toaster oven is smaller than the oven and it radiates a steady amount of heat so you can use it to reheat leftovers. The element will be closer to the food thus it will reheat faster but if you are scared that it will dry out your leftovers you can always cover them with aluminium foil. When reheating leftovers using a toaster oven you should always aim for a temperature that is not more than 350 degrees this is because if you put too much heat the leftovers will burn. Reheating leftovers in the toaster oven helps to retain their texture and flavour especially that of fried foods.
Leftovers that can be reheated in the toaster oven
- Crusty breads
- Fried foods
- Roasted or frilled meats
- Baked goods- pies and tarts
- Sea food
- Grilled sandwiches
Reheating leftovers on the stove
NB: when using the stove stick to medium or low heat when reheating leftovers to reduce the chances of eating burnt food.
The stove is one of the safest appliances to use when reheating leftovers. This is because it helps to retain the original texture and flavour of the leftovers. When using the stove to reheat your leftovers it is important to choose the right cookware to use. So you can either choose to use pots, pans, double boilers or steamers. All these appliances can work very well on the stove. A double boiler is commonly used when reheating foods that you do not want to get exposed to direct heat for example mashed potatoes, sauces or steamed fish. This is because direct heat can affect the texture of these foods.
Leftovers that can be reheated on a stove
- Soups and stews
- Rice, noodles and pasta
- Stir fries and sautés
How to store leftovers
It is important to know how to store leftovers, this is because if you store them the wrong way they can get contaminated and you will definitely get sick. When storing leftovers in the fridge or freeze make sure that they have completely cooled down. This is because if you place hot leftovers in the refrigerator they are likely to alter the temperatures in your freezer. This can actually affect other foods in your refrigerator. The temperature in your freezer should always stay below 5 degrees this will help to prevent the build-up of bacteria.
How to avoid food poisoning
There are a few tips that you can use to avoid food poisoning. The first thing is to pay attention to the smell of your food before reheating it. If it has a funky smell then you need to throw it away. Foods that are high in protein usually go bad fast as compared to other foods therefore you need to be careful. The other tip that you can use to tell if your leftovers are not fit for consumption is the texture. If the food has a slimy texture or odd texture then you definitely need to throw it away. The last tip to take note of when you want to avoid food poisoning is to look at the appearance of the food. If you notice any moulds or difference in colour then it might not be safe to eat.