I have left my son’s food in the microwave for when he returns from school.
I have also left food overnight in the microwave either accidentally or hoping whoever has not taken their dinner will do it later that evening.
But, can you leave food in the microwave overnight without it going bad?
Yes, depending on the type of food. Any food stored in the fridge or freezer should never be left in the microwave for longer than two hours. At the same time, food like Bread, fruit pie, and unsliced raw fruits can survive in the microwave overnight.
This article explains the possibility of leaving food in the microwave overnight. Other topics include Dangers of Leaving Perishable Food in the Microwave Overnight, Types of Foods You Can Leave in The Microwave Overnight, and How Long can Food be Kept at Room Temperature.
Dangers of Leaving Perishable Food in the Microwave Overnight
Perishable food is cooked food, mostly food that has been stored in the fridge. Such food is not to be left outside for longer than two hours. The environment in the microwave is usually 21 degrees when it is not running, which is the appropriate temperature to encourage the growth and multiplication of bacteria.
Consumption of such food will only mean intake and exposure to bacteria and illnesses like those discussed below.
Staph aureus is known for rapidly spreading on perishable foods like meat, poultry, eggs, mayonnaise-based salads, and dairy products. The bacteria can be contained if food is stored in the freezer or fridge.
However, removing the food and letting it stay in the microwave for more than two hours will see the bacteria grow on your food faster than you ever expected. The bacteria are also believed to grow way faster on food, depending on the humidity of the food.
The more humid the food is, the faster the growth of Staph aureus. Consuming food already infested with this bacteria may cause you to start having symptoms like sudden nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps, and some may experience diarrhea
Bacterium Bacillus cereus
Bacterium Bacillus cereus is another bacteria that begins to grow on your perishable food immediately after being placed in the microwave for longer than two hours.
Often food like spaghetti or meat is the ones that are highly likely to be infested by Bacterium Bacillus cereus. Once you have consumed food with this bacteria, you may suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea for up to 6 hours.
Foodborne illnesses are brought about by consuming contaminated food. They are also caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter.
You experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever when you have a foodborne illness. Contaminated foods can also lead to more severe complications such as dehydration, kidney failure, and even death.
Types of Foods You Can Leave in The Microwave Overnight
There are indeed certain foods that you can easily place in the microwave, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the growth of bacteria on them.
In fact, the foods can stay at room temperature for days, unlike perishable ones that should only remain at room temperature for not longer than 2 hours.
Below is a list of foods you can store in the microwave overnight.
Did you know that bread can stay longer and fresh at room temperature than in a refrigerator? Some people think storing your bread in the fridge helps it stay fresh for longer, which is not the case.
The bread stays for long and is fresh at room temperature. Unless you want to store it for longer than a week or a month, you can place it in an air-tight bag and store it in the freezer. Therefore, the next time you think of storing your bread at room temperature, you may as well keep it in the microwave where the environment is cool and dry
A fruit pie
Unlike most pies, fruit pies can survive in the microwave for up to 2 days. The most important thing is to ensure the fruit pie has been covered appropriately. Suppose you are interested in storing the fruit pie for longer. You can always transfer it to the refrigerator.
Other types of pies like Custard, cream, and egg-based pies do not have the luxury of being stored in the microwave overnight, as the ingredients used to make them do not allow them to survive at room temperature for too long.
Unsliced raw fruits
Unsliced raw fruits like bananas, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, papaya, pineapple, pomegranates, watermelon, and apples can survive at room temperature for days. They will still survive if you feel like placing them in the microwave overnight and removing them the following morning.
The essential factor to keep them from spoiling is to store them in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight. Fruits that have been sliced should be stored in the fridge.
Condiments are foods like ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar-based hot sauces, and honey. Most of them do not need to be stored in the fridge.
How Long can Food be Kept at Room Temperature
The appropriate amount of time that food should be left at room temperature depends on the type of food. Meat, fish, eggs, and leftovers should only be left at room temperature for 2 hours. Also, such foods should not be allowed to stay in the microwave overnight.
Therefore it is essential to remove the appropriate amount of food from the fridge and only microwave what you can finish. If there are any leftovers, remember not to allow the food stay at room temperature for more than two hours.
Pack the food appropriately and store it in the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you want to store it. It is better to store the food in the fridge than in the microwave, especially if you are yet to be sure how long it will take before the food is eaten.
Will Reheating Food Make It Safe If You had Forgotten It in the Microwave Overnight?
Suppose you had forgotten cooked food in the microwave overnight, and you think reheating it in the morning will make it safe and free from germs; you’re mistaken.
Especially for perishable foods like Meat, poultry, seafood, tofu, Dairy products, cooked pasta, rice, vegetables, and Fresh, peeled or cut fruits and vegetables. If two hours are enough for bacteria to grow and spread on a cooked meal, you can just imagine what 7 to 8 hours would do to your leftover meal in the microwave.
Reheating the meal will not make it safe; already, the meal has grown bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus (staph), which form a heat-resistant toxin that no amount of heat can break.
Helpful Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness
Cleanliness, thorough cooking and proper storage are the three essential tips to ensure that foodborne illnesses will not be a problem with your food.
Below is a detailed explanation of the mentioned helpful tips to prevent foodborne illnesses
Washing hands, utensils, and the food you are about to cook will contribute greatly towards fighting food contamination that will lead to foodborne illnesses.
Appropriate cooking is also essential, especially in meals like meat and poultry. They need to be thoroughly cooked to the proper internal temperature.
Once the food is cooked, it becomes vulnerable to the growth of bacteria. Therefore, ensure the food is stored correctly and placed in the fridge if necessary. Leftover meals should not stay outside the refrigerator for longer than two hours.
Faqs On Can you Leave Food in the Microwave Overnight
1. How long can food sit out after microwaving?
Food that has already been microwaved can stay out for at least 2 hours. That is if the temperatures are below 90 °F.
However, if the temperatures are above the mentioned 90 °F, it is better for the food to only stay out for 1 hour.
2. Can you eat chicken left out overnight if you microwave it before eating it?
No, you should not eat chicken left out overnight in the microwave. A microwave is not a place to store leftover food.
Chicken should not be left in the microwave for longer than 2 hours; at this time, bacteria will have begun to grow and spread on it. Always put your chicken in an air-tight container and place it in the fridge or microwave.
3. What happens if you leave food in the microwave for too long?
Suppose you leave food in the microwave for too long without microwaving it. Bacteria begin to grow and spread on the food, making it poisonous.
If you leave food in the microwave for too long as it runs, your food begins to dry out, boil over and reduce its nutritional value.
4. Can I leave food in my room overnight?
Yes, however, it depends on the type of food. Perishable foods should not stay at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
However, other foods like bread have no problem staying at room temperature, even for a day or two.
5. How do you store cooked food overnight?
The best way to store cooked food overnight is by placing the food in an air-tight container and storing the food in the fridge.
You can take the food off a heated sauce and ensure you put the food where the surrounding temperature is not above 90 F. ensure to warm the food thoroughly the following day before consumption.
6. Can you leave pizza in microwave overnight?
No, you cannot leave your pizza in the microwave overnight. Place the pizza in the fridge and warm it the following morning in the microwave.
7. Is it safe to eat pizza left out overnight?
It is advisable to avoid consuming cooked food that has stayed outside for longer than 2 hours. That also includes pizza. After two hours of room temperature, the pizza begins to form bacteria that grows and becomes harmful to human consumption.
Yes, there is a possibility of leaving food in the microwave overnight. However, the food should not be cooked or perishable food. Perishable food should be stored safely in the fridge, and only the required amount should be microwaved.
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