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Why You Should Always Microwave Rice First When Reheating Food

leftover curry with rice
leftover curry with rice - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

A microwave can be your best friend when it comes to reheating leftovers. While it's true that pizza and leftover steaks are best warmed by different techniques, the microwave is an efficient heating technique for other foods with plenty of moisture. When your leftover meal includes rice, giving the rice a head start by heating it first is a smart way to be sure the center gets heated all the way through, for several important reasons.

We've all been faced with unevenly cooked plates of leftovers, especially when layering various side dishes together. When heated with a heavy sauce on top, rice might not get fully warm underneath, while the outer edges become overcooked. Lukewarm meals are not the only consequence when you don't get the heating right. For food safety, it's important to reheat leftovers fully, and according to the USDA, that means all the way to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. So, by getting the rice portion of your meal warm first, you are not only getting a better eating experience for those leftovers, you're on the way to making sure all the food on the plate is safe to eat.

Read more: 21 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice

Tips For Reheating Rice Leftovers

heating rice in microwave
heating rice in microwave - godshutter/Shutterstock

Microwaves do their heating by acting on the water molecules in food, heating them up, and then that heat transfers to everything else nearby. But leftover rice loses its moisture as it cools, creating that stiff texture we're all familiar with in our storage container -- some hard, loose rice mixed with clumps of even harder rice. By adding a few tablespoons of water to the rice as you reheat it and covering the dish with a microwave-safe lid to keep the moisture in, you can steam the rice back to life, almost as good as fresh.

After you've given your rice an initial heating, give it a good stir to break up any clumps and distribute the moisture and heat, and then add the other components of your leftover meal. Following this process will ensure that you are not left with a chilly center on your plate and a ring of overcooked, dry rice on the edge due to uneven heating in your microwave. A good policy is to use a food thermometer to check that you've heated the food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to staying healthy!

Read the original article on Tasting Table.