Foods You Should Never Reheat
Food prepping, avoiding food waste, cooking too much or simply family mealtime leftovers often means there’s a glut of cooked food left in the kitchen at the end of the day. But, with the widespread use of the microwave, there’s no reason why that surplus food cannot simply be re-heated and used as a meal the following day, right?
Well, when it comes to re-heating and re-eating food, it’s not that simple. Although microwaves have revolutionized the way we cook and heat our meals, there are some everyday foods and ingredients that should never be popped back into the micro for a quick re-heat blast. Due to their protein make-up or the way they can enable unpleasant bacteria to breed, certain foods are simply not suited to cooking a second time around. And this can be made worse by the way a microwave works, cooking from the outside in, meaning bacteria in reheated food can actually still survive.
To help you avoid falling foul of an upset stomach after eating a ‘next day meal’, we look at seven everyday foods that you should never reheat.
Although delicious, and an excellent source of protein, chicken can be a danger hot spot if reheated, especially in a microwave. A potential source of salmonella-causing bacteria, it’s essential that chicken is always handled and cooked correctly.
That roast chicken dinner may well have been divine and can extend to another meal the following day, but you really do need to take care and never reheat it in the microwave. As microwaves heat from the outside in, they don’t always provide sufficient heat to kill all those bacterial nasties hiding away. Reheating chicken will also change the composition of its protein, making it a tough one when it comes to your digestion.
The best way to make the most of leftover chicken is to eat it as soon as you can, no later than the next day and use it cold in a salad. Just make sure it is stored in a sufficiently cold refrigerator overnight.
Who knew the humble potato could be a potential danger food? The staple of most kitchens, potatoes are a family favorite, but it’s important to avoid reheating them once they have been cooked. The reason is a nasty bacterium called botulism which can cause equally nasty food poisoning. Potatoes have the potential to support the growth of this rare bug by becoming a warm breeding ground for the bacteria, which re-heating in a microwave simply can’t touch.
The reason this bacterium can thrive is if the cooked potato is allowed to cool down but stays at room temperature for too long. And cooking your spud in aluminum foil can make things worse as it protects the nasties from heat. If you want to eat your potatoes cold the next day, always make sure you pop your spare cooked spuds straight into the fridge as soon as you have served your meal.
Oh-so-versatile, rice is actually one of the most common leftover foods in domestic households and is also one of the most regularly reheated foods. But if you are reheating your rice the next day using a microwave, then maybe it’s time for a re-think. Using a microwave to reheat a rice dish can lead to food poisoning thanks to unpleasant bacteria called Bacillus cereus. While heat will kill this tricky little bug, it also produces spores which sit in your food and are toxic. If your cooked rice is then left out on the countertop for any period of time before refrigeration, then these heat-resistant pores are given the chance to multiply. And the result if you re-heat and re-eat could well be some unpleasant side effects including vomiting and diarrhea.
So, when it comes to the question, ‘can you reheat food twice?’, with rice you must avoid the microwave. Your best option for reheating rice is to add to boiled rice and bring up to heat, without over boiling. But we say cook rice fresh every time, just to be safe.
A total protein powerhouse, eggs are always best cooked and eaten fresh, whether that’s boiled, poached or scrambled, and reheating should be avoided. The reason is that all that lovely egg protein is destroyed by re-heating and can become unsuitable for consumption once cooked. Reheating a cooked egg can release toxics from the broken-down protein and make you feel unwell. Cooked eggs that have been sitting around at room temperature, even for a short while, can also become a breeding ground for unpleasant bacteria, such as listeria and salmonella so if those unused hard boiled eggs have not been quickly refrigerated, they are a no-no when it comes to eating and reheating. The best way to make the most of leftover boiled eggs is to refrigerate in time, then eat cold in a delicious and healthy salad or sandwich, no later than the next day.
A cooked mushroom will deteriorate very quickly, going from culinary delicious to culinary yucky in hours, as their delicate proteins break down. If not refrigerated quickly but left at room temperatures, enzymes and bacteria will quickly build up inside the cooked mushroom, leading to a dish that is going to cause unpleasant tummy troubles if reheated and eaten. To be safe, the advice here is simple – eat your cooked mushroom first time around and never reheat to eat.
The experience of a bad seafood meal is one that will stay with you for a long time and one that is to be avoided at all costs! To always be on the safe side, shellfish and seafood should be eaten straight after cooking and unless any leftovers are frozen immediately then reheating the meal is an absolute no-go. Cooked seafood left at room temperature is the ultimate breeding ground of bacteria, which will rapidly grow and can be the cause of a pretty horrendous upset tum. In short, we say cook your fresh seafood and enjoy as you are served it, and never go back for a reheated second round.
Spinach, Beets and Celery
Greens and colorful veggies are good for you, right? Well yes, but there are some vegetables that should never be re-heated, spinach, beets and celery included. They may all be packed with the nutrients and fiber your body needs but they also nitrate-rich, which is where the re-heating problems start.
While naturally-occurring nitrates are good for you, if they are reheated in a microwave after initial cooking, they have a habit of ‘going rogue’. With a blast from the microwave, these natural nitrates could convert to nitrosamines, which can be carcinogenic.
To ensure spinach (and other dark green leafy veg) as well as beet and celery stay nutritious and delicious additions to your diet, never cook or re-heat in a microwave but gently steam or oven-roast. Leafy veg are best eaten first time around, while cold beets can be used add a delicious pop of color and flavor to a rainbow salad the next day. No re-heating required.