10/04/2018 13:14 SAST | Updated 10/04/2018 13:14 SAST

How To Store And Reheat Leftovers Properly – So You Don't Get Sick

Ideally, don't keep anything longer than three days.

Joe Belanger

Many of us love leftovers, but unless you're storing and reheating them correctly, you could be putting your health at risk.

"Not only is food handling important in the preparation stages, it's equally important how we store [leftovers]. Dangerous bacteria can grow and give us food poisoning if we don't do it right," local dietician Ashley Gibbon told HuffPost.

Ideally, nothing should be kept in the fridge for longer than three days – especially in summer, when certain foods go off quicker.

The Good Housekeeping Institute has revealed the safest way to store and reheat favourite leftovers like chicken, rice and dairy products:

  • Rice

The danger is in the storage more than the reheating, as the bacteria — bacillus cereus — can survive in rice when cooked and left at room temperature.

Let rice cool for no longer than one hour, and then keep in the fridge no more than one day. Only reheat once.

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  • Chicken

Cover and cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge, and only store for up to three days. Do not reheat more than once, and make sure it is thoroughly heated.

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  • Red meat

It can be left in the fridge for a few days and eaten cold, but if reheated, let it warm up to room temperature first.

Microwaves can ruin the texture of steaks and roasted meats. Better results come from frying each side in a pan for 60 seconds to warm it up.

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  • Potato

All cooked potatoes are fine in a fridge for up to three days. Roast potatoes should be reheated in a low oven or dry frying pan rather than the microwave, otherwise they will go soggy.

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  • Green vegetables

Previous warnings against reheating spinach and other leafy vegetables have been reversed, and current guidelines are that reheated vegetables are as safe as eating them cold.

Simply chill to room temperature after cooking, then keep in the fridge for up to three days.

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  • Dairy

Leave cream, yoghurt and creme fraiche in the container in which it came, and put back in the fridge as soon as possible. But if it's been served up in a glass or bowl, do not return it to the original container; simply wrap it up tight and store in the fridge.

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  • Cans and tins

With half a tin of beans or soup, the danger is that the metal from the can will leach into the food and leave a metallic taste. So put it into a separate container, cover and chill for up to three days.

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