Leftovers can make quite an easy meal, especially on that specific day when I feel so tired to make something fresh.
However, several times, I have served leftovers to my kids and had to store them back in the fridge since they were not fully consumed.
This brings us to our main concern today, can you microwave leftovers twice?
Yes, you can microwave leftovers twice. In fact, you can microwave them as often as you wish; however, it is not recommended. Not all meals should be microwaved more than once. The more you microwave a meal, the more it loses its nutritional value, and the more you encourage the possibility of food poisoning.
Also, the more you expose your food to microwave heat, the tougher and more rubbery the food becomes due to the massive loss of moisture through evaporation. A more bacteria-friendly environment is created as the temperature fluctuates throughout the meal.
This article explains the possibility of microwaving leftovers twice. Other discussed related topics include: Is it Safe to Reheat Food in the Microwave Twice, Types of Foods you Shouldn’t Microwave More than Once, Is it Safe to Reheat Food and Return it to the Fridge and Can You Microwave Food That Has Already Been Microwaved
Is it Safe to Reheat Food in the Microwave Twice
It is not safe to microwave all types of foods more than twice. The more you microwave food, the more you risk food poisoning. This is because food always contains bacteria that grow each time the food is microwaved to a certain temperature.
Therefore, reheating the same food repeatedly does not only temper the taste and nutritional value of your food. It also allows the existing bacteria in the food to grow continuously and become even more dangerous for human consumption.
Types of Foods you Shouldn’t Microwave More than Once
As already discussed, there are foods you can microwave more than once. However, others shouldn’t; they include rice, vegetables, eggs, chicken, potatoes, etc.
Below is a list of foods that shouldn’t be microwaved more than once and a detailed explanation.
Rice is known to produce Bacillus cereus, a heat-resistant pathogen known to produce toxins that can even survive in extreme heat conditions as high as 168 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other meals containing starch, like pasta and noodles, also have the same pathogens. Therefore it is best if you could avoid reheating such meals in the microwave.
Nitrate rich vegetables
Such vegetables include Beetroot & Beet Greens, Red Spinach, Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Celery, Swiss Chard, Green Spinach, Kale, Mustard Greens, Rhubard, and Spirulina.
Nitrates are beneficial to the human body when consumed in small amounts; however, the same nutrients can convert into harmful compounds called nitrites when heated. Consuming these vegetables that have been reheated could lead to certain medical issues like cancer.
Microwaving eggs more than once alters their taste and texture. They will no longer taste fresh as you cooked them the first time. Eggs also contain nitrogen, which can easily be oxidized and become toxic. When nitrogen is oxidized, it turns into a cancer-causing substance.
You may microwave chicken once; however, microwaving it more than once may cause the proteins in the chicken to turn toxic for human consumption. The proteins may cause digestive issues once you reheat them more than once, and the chicken’s texture becomes dry and tough.
The potatoes’ minerals, fiber, and vitamins produce a bacteria called Clostridium Botulinum each time you reheat them. The bacteria produce Botulinum toxins that are very harmful when ingested. The toxins block nerve functions and can lead to respiratory and muscular paralysis.
Therefore instead of microwaving these foods repeatedly, it is advisable only to cook enough meals that you will finish in a single meal. If not, do not allow yourself to microwave the leftover meal more than once.
Is it Safe to Reheat Food and Return it to the Fridge
Not all foods are safe to be reheated in the microwave and returned to the fridge. Avoid reheating foods like rice, vegetables, eggs, chicken, and potatoes more than once and returning them to the fridge.
Such foods become toxic and will cause food poisoning and other serious health issues if you keep microwaving them and storing them in the fridge. Also, if you want to store your meal in the fridge after cooking it for the first time, ensure the food has been thoroughly cooked.
Store the food in the freezer if you want to store it for longer than four days, and only scoop a small amount of the food each time you microwave. That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about the accumulation of toxic compounds in the food each time you reheat your meal. You will also succeed in microwaving your meal just once since only a small portion of it will be scooped.
Suppose there is some leftover meal after eating your microwaved meal. Ensure to throw it away to avoid microwaving it twice.
Can You Microwave Food That Has Already Been Microwaved
You cannot microwave all types of food that have already been microwaved. There are certain types of foods; the more you microwave them, the more they become toxic and may cause food poisoning.
Others, like chicken, become tougher and chewy. Therefore before microwaving a meal after you had previously microwaved it, ensure the meal will not produce toxic compounds that will harm you or cause you food poisoning.
Things to Consider when Reheating Leftovers in the Microwave
When reheating leftovers in the microwave, there are certain things that you should remember to take into consideration.
For instance, not reheating a meal more than twice, checking if the food is still in good condition, reheating the food to the appropriate internal temperature, and using the appropriate microwavable containers, among others.
Below is a detailed explanation
The number of times the leftover meal has been microwaved
As explained earlier, it is better to microwave meals at least once. Microwaving a meal more than once increases the possibility of causing food poisoning. Among the meals that shouldn’t be microwaved more than once include: mushrooms, eggs, rice, chicken and vegetables rich in nitrates.
The condition of food that needs to be microwaved
Before reheating leftover meals, look at their appearance; if the meal is slimy and has dark spots, there is a high chance it is spoiled. Also, check the smell of the meal. When your leftover meal has a smell that is off, it shouldn’t be microwaved and consumed.
Reheat your meal to the appropriate internal temperature
Certain meals, like chicken or meat, should be reheated to a specific intern temperature. High temperatures kill the bacteria that begin to grow and spread on food when the food is left at room temperature.
The previous storage of the leftover meal
Before microwaving a leftover meal, ensure the food had been stored appropriately. Leftover meals should be transferred in an airtight container or freezer bag and stored in the freezer or fridge. Suppose you had stored your food in the fridge; ensure the food had not been stored for longer than four days.
Use microwavable utensils when microwaving
It is advisable to use microwave-safe containers or plates to reheat your leftover meal in the microwave. It is clear that reheating certain meals more than once is dangerous for your health; you wouldn’t want to add more harm to another by using non-microwavable utensils to reheat your meals.
How to Distinguish Food that Has Gone Bad After Microwaving
Food that has gone bad will look different, have a foul smell, and also taste terrible. Microwaving leftover meal without knowing whether it is still in good condition is something that has happened to most of us. This often happens when you didn’t store your food well in the fridge or the last time you had cooked the meal, you allowed the meal to stay at room temperature for a long time.
Below is a detailed explanation
The smell of the food
When microwaving any meal, you will perceive its smell. Suppose the smell of the food in the microwave seems off. It only means the food is no longer good for human consumption. It is best to avoid such a meal.
The appearance of the food
Before placing the leftover food in the microwave to reheat. It is best to look at the colour and texture. If the food looks discoloured with a slimy texture, the chances are that the food is already spoiled. Reheating such a meal will only spread a foul smell in your kitchen, and if that does not happen, it will cause harm to you if you consume it.
The taste of the food
Suppose you do not notice the food’s discolouration or smell; you will notice the taste of the food is off. If this is the case with your leftover meal, there are high chances the food will give you serious food poisoning, so it is best to throw it away.
Yes, you can microwave leftovers twice. However, not all meals will remain as fresh and nutritious as they were when fresh. Some meals will produce toxic compounds and become poisonous for your consumption, while other meals will become tough and rubbery for you.