If you are keen on food hygiene and ensuring that everything you eat is safe, you may be wondering if it is okay to put warm rice in the fridge. Many people are aware that rice needs to be kept as cool as possible for as long as possible, and not left to sit at room temperature for longer than necessary.
Can you put warm rice in the fridge? You should not put warm rice in the fridge as it will increase the temperature of your fridge, which could compromise the safety of other foods. Although it will bring the temperature of your rice down, it may only do so fairly slowly, and it will create a lot of condensation inside the fridge.
Why Does Rice Need to be Kept Cold?
Rice is a food that you have to store in cold conditions once it has been cooked, because it can start to harbor a particularly nasty bacteria called Bacillus cereus. This may make you very ill with food poisoning, and it can have very quick effects.
This bacteria grows much faster when the cooked rice is kept at room temperature.
These spores may already be present on the rice when it is dry and raw, but they stay dormant until the rice gets wet. As soon as you wet it to cook it, the spores become active. These are heat-resistant spores, and they don’t get killed by the cooking process.
That means you need to use the rice up quickly, and keep it cold to slow down the spread of the bacteria before it reaches dangerous levels. If you don’t put cooked rice in the fridge, the bacteria will spread much more quickly, and you could get very sick from eating the rice.
You can also freeze rice as an alternative to refrigerating it if this works better for you; either option should prevent or slow the spread of the bacteria, until the rice is reheated.
Why Can’t You Put Warm Rice in the Fridge?
You can’t put warm rice in the fridge because it heats the fridge up too much, and this could make other foods that are being stored in there behave in unexpected ways. For example, if you put the warm rice near some meat, it will heat the meat up, and then the meat may not remain safe to eat.
Warm rice can also affect other foods, such as dairy products, salads, and even vegetables. The point of your fridge is to keep things cold; putting warm rice into the fridge will heat them up.
You should always allow rice to cool before you put it in the fridge, but that may lead to another problem – what if the rice does not seem to be cooling down fast enough? The longer it stays out and stays warm for, the more the bacteria will spread, so how can you reduce the time it is resting on a counter for without compromising your fridge?
What Should You Do to Cool Rice Down Quickly?
There are a few different methods you can use for cooling rice down fast. The first of these is to put the rice into a bowl and stand this in iced water. The ice should pull the heat out of the bowl and help the rice to become cool.
This is a good option, but it will only work with a medium amount of rice. If you try and do it with a lot of rice, too much heat will stay trapped in the center.
Another option is to spread the rice out on a tray or board. When the rice grains are spread out, the heat will quickly dissipate because it isn’t trapped, and the rice should cool down fast. However, this may not be practical for large amounts of rice.
A final option is to put the rice into a sieve or colander. Rinse it with cold water until the temperature of the rice has dropped and it can be refrigerated. Make sure you drain it well before putting it in the fridge.
How Long Will Rice Last For in the Fridge?
You can keep rice in the fridge for up to four days, provided that it is refrigerated quickly. If it gets left out for longer than four hours at any time, you should discard it.
The faster you manage to get the rice into the fridge, the better it should last. If rice stands out for an hour before it goes in the fridge, it will probably not last for as long as rice that is refrigerated straight away.
You may not be able to tell if rice has gone bad; the bacteria can spread without any visible signs. If in doubt, it is better to throw rice away than to risk eating it.
What Happens If You Leave Rice on the Counter to Cool?
If you only leave a small amount of rice out and it cools within half an hour or so, it should be fine. However, a large amount of rice will take too long to cool if it is simply left on the counter, because it will insulate the heat in the core of the rice and keep it warm for too long to be safe.
If you have accidentally left rice out, you should throw it away to avoid the risk of food poisoning. You can try inspecting the rice for visible signs that it has gone off, such as mold, sliminess, or a funny smell, but often, you will not be able to tell whether the bacteria has spread too far, and the rice is unsafe to eat.
You should not put rice into your fridge while the rice is still warm. If you have cooked rice that is still hot, the best option is to rinse it in cold water until it has cooled enough, and then place it in a sealed container in the fridge. You may wish to let it air dry for a few minutes before you store it to avoid soggy rice.