Does rice go off?
Yes, your cooked rice can go off, and it goes off much faster depending on how it was stored. Here are a few signs that your rice is no longer safe to eat.
- It has a strange smell. If your rice smells a bit funky and sour, that may be a sign that bacteria is already growing in your leftovers, so it’s best to throw it out.
- Your rice is dry, crumbly, and tough. Rice that’s been in the fridge for too long will have lost a lot of its moisture content. Even if it doesn’t smell strange yet, this is a red flag that indicates it’s been sitting there too long.
- The rice is slimy. This is a sign that rice had too much moisture when it was refrigerated; this promotes bacterial growth and leads to the first stages of fermentation.
If you’ve eaten rice that’s gone off, you may experience food poisoning. The classic symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, and an upset stomach. If you have food poisoning from your expired rice, drink plenty of water, avoid food for a few hours, then slowly ease your stomach back into gear by eating bland food like bananas and saltines.
Does the rice variety make a difference?
White rice lasts a bit longer than some other types, but not by much. Brown rice, for example, lasts only four to five days in the fridge. This is because brown rice is less processed than white rice, and the oils that make it healthier are also the reason why it expires faster.
Wild rice has the same expiry period as white rice, lasting anywhere from five to seven days in the fridge.
Can you eat cold rice?
Cold rice is just as safe to eat as hot rice, although you may have issues with the texture. Use the same tips as recommended above to know if it’s still okay to eat.
Can you freeze cooked rice?
Absolutely. Freezing your cooked rice is a great way to ensure that you don’t let any leftovers go rancid in your refrigerator, and you can conveniently defrost it any time for your meals. However, you should add a little bit more moisture into your leftover rice – perhaps some olive oil or butter – because it’s lost a bit of water through the freezing process.
Cooked rice in the fridge will last less than a week, but frozen rice will have a shelf life anywhere from six to eight months in your freezer before it’s not okay to eat anymore. If you cook rice in large batches, storing it in airtight containers and freezing it is a good way to cut your meal prep time and eliminate food wastage.
Tips for storing cooked rice
- Let your rice cool properly before you put it in the fridge. Putting your rice in the fridge while it’s still hot can allow moisture to pool and collect, which encourages bacterial growth and makes your rice spoil faster.
- Use airtight containers. Keep unwanted moisture out of refrigerated rice by using resealable plastic bags, or airtight containers. The less exposure to bacteria, the safer it will be to eat the next day.
- Only reheat what you’re going to eat. Reheating and cooling your rice multiple times creates opportunities for bacteria to grow, so just get the portion you want to eat and heat that. If you have too much leftover rice, freeze it.
When in doubt, throw it out
Proper storage is the key to avoiding food poisoning. If you’re not sure if your cooked rice is still safe to eat, the smartest thing to do is to throw it in the bin. It may be wasteful, but it’s better than dealing with stomach cramps from spoiled leftovers. In the future, put your cooked rice in the freezer if you’re not going to eat it ASAP.
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