Tackling Leftovers: Rice

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

We've all done it, cooked too much rice for our dinner and ended up ether slinging it in the bin or covering it with cling film, storing in the fridge and then, er, slinging it in the bin after a couple of days. But did you know that here in the UK we throw away 64,000 tonnes of rice per year? This amounts to £150 million worth of rice, thrown away, every year. It's a heck of a lot of money. 


Avoid cooking too much rice
So what can you do? Well firstly, try to avoid cooking too much in the first place. Measure out the rice before you cook it - most labels suggest about 75g per serving - less for small children. No more guess-work, no more accidentally tipping more rice into the saucepan, and it'll be on your shopping list less often, saving you money. 

Preparing and Storing Rice
Although rice looks innocent enough, with its bouncy, fluffy grains, you do have to take care when preparing and storing it. Here are a few tips:

Cool the rice quickly - don't leave leftover rice near a warm oven or cover it while it's still hot. Get it cooled, covered and in the fridge within an an hour of you preparing it. 

Use any leftover rice within 24 hours. Uncooked rice contains spores of a bacterium called Bacillus cereus. If you leave cooked rice at room temperature, these spores can develop and if you eat the rice, you could end up with a bad tum. That's why it's also important to reheat rice thoroughly, until piping hot, and don't reheat it twice. It might sound strange, but if you've had an upset stomach after visiting the takeaway, it might be the rice - and not the sweet and sour chicken - that's to blame. Takeaways often cook large batches of rice in advance and then stir-fry (reheat) portions as you ask for them. So in this case, the rice has already been reheated at least once by the time you tuck in, and if you then reheat takeaway leftovers the next day, you're increasing your risk again. 

Stuck for ideas for rice leftovers? Try these tasty ideas:

Wholegrain Basmati Rice with Kale and Cashew Nuts
Bill Granger's Rice Salad - with olives and red onion
Home-Made Arancini - using up leftover risotto
Stir-Fried Brown Basmati Rice  - with mushrooms ad soya beans
Tom Yum Fried Rice with Oriental Mushrooms
Burritos - fold leftover rice into tortilla wraps with beans, meat, veggies and salad

And you can makes cakes with leftover rice, too!
Chocolate Rice Cakes, from Sydney blog My Kitchen Stories

How do you use leftover rice?