If you’re like many Americans, you enjoy indulging in Chinese food occasionally. It’s delicious, it’s filling, and you usually end up with way more than you can stomach. This likely means you’ll have leftovers, which begs the question: How long is Chinese food good for after it’s cooked?
The answer largely depends on whether you store Chinese food in the refrigerator or the freezer. On average, Chinese food lasts about two to three days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer.
Keep reading to learn more about how to properly and safely store Chinese food so you can eat it again as leftovers the next time you have a craving!
Credit: Shree Iyer
How to Properly Store Chinese Food?
Leftover Chinese food should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer shortly after you finish eating it. Although bacteria is killed during the cooking process, more bacteria can quickly form at a room temperature of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Before storing Chinese food in the fridge or freezer, ensure that it has cooled to room temperature.
Some common ways to store your delicious Chinese food include:
Airtight containers are the safest way to store leftovers. If you buy takeout at a local Chinese restaurant, never store the leftover food in the container it came in, as these cartons or containers will allow air to reach the food, which increases the chance of bacterial growth that can lead to food poisoning. You can either use glass, aluminum, or plastic airtight containers. Plastic containers are cost-effective and can be found at every grocery store.
Plastic or Aluminum Wrap
If you don’t have an airtight container handy, use plastic or aluminum wrap, and completely cover the original container the food came in. If you’re storing leftovers in the fridge, you can also spread the food over a dinner plate and wrap the entire plate with plastic or aluminum wrap. Just be sure the food is completely sealed to prevent any air from contacting the food.
Sealable Plastic Bags
Sealable plastic bags also work well in a pinch. You can place the original Chinese food containers directly in the bag and seal it tightly.
How Long Is Chinese Food Good for in the Refrigerator?
Although some experts say Chinese food can last up to four days in the refrigerator, others recommend a stay of two to three days at most to stay on the safe side. If the leftovers have been in the refrigerator for longer than three days, pitch the food to prevent the possibility of food poisoning. Your health – and stomach – will thank you for it!
Unfortunately, inspecting, smelling, or tasting the food will not always tell you if it’s actually spoiled, so it’s important to pay attention to how long the food has been stored in the refrigerator.
How Long Is Chinese Food Good for in the Freezer?
If you’ve had your fill of Chinese food and don’t plan on eating the leftovers again in the next few days, store it in the freezer. Chinese food can last up to three months in the freezer. This includes rice, meat, and vegetables.
According to Limitless Cooking, home-cooked Chinese food freezes better than takeout food. Your home-cooked Chinese food can have a shelf life of about three months in the freezer, compared to about one to two months for leftover takeaway. Other experts, though, say all Chinese food can safely stay in the freezer for up to three months.
According to Smarter Homemaker, Chinese food such as fried rice dishes, egg rolls, soups, and saucy dishes do well when put in the freezer and then reheated at a later time. Again, seal the food properly to prevent freezer burn that can negatively affect the taste and quality of the food.
How to Freeze Chinese Food?
Ensure your Chinese food has cooled to room temperature before placing it in the freezer. If it’s still hot or warm when you’re done eating it, let it sit for a few minutes if needed.
Chinese food stored in the freezer also needs to be properly sealed using one of the following:
· Plastic container
· Glass container
· Aluminum container
· Airtight plastic bag
Before your food goes into hibernation in the freezer, check that all containers or bags are airtight and sealed properly.
Credits: Andrés Rodríguez
Place a Note on the Container
This is a bit of advice that many homeowners often forget, and it can prove costly. Always place a note on the container with the date that you stored the Chinese food. This will prevent you and your family from eating spoiled food that’s spent too much time in the freezer.
Use Multiple Containers
If you have an extra-large portion of Chinese food that needs to be frozen, consider placing the food in multiple containers. That way you can enjoy your leftovers for more than one day.
How to Thaw Frozen Chinese Food?
Chinese food is easy to thaw. Simply remove it from the freezer and the container and place it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. This is the safest way to defrost food. A quicker way to defrost your Chinese dish in the fridge is to put the storage container or sealed bag, with the food in it, in a container of water.
If you don’t want to wait, you can also defrost leftover Chinese food in the microwave using the appropriate defrost setting. However, there’s an increased risk of bacterial growth when food is warmed up quickly in the microwave due to the possibility of uneven heating, so we recommend defrosting the food in the refrigerator, if possible.
“If you have an extra-large portion of Chinese food that needs to be frozen, consider placing the food in multiple containers. That way you can enjoy your leftovers for more than one day.”
Credits: Michele BlackwellHire
How to Tell If Your Leftover Chinese Has Gone Bad?
Time is often the best indicator to know if your Chinese food has gone bad since spoiled food sometimes shows no signs of actually being spoiled. If your Chinese food has been in the refrigerator for more than three days, or the freezer for more than three months, throw it away.
A simple smell check might work in some cases. If it smells off, then it’s not safe to consume. If the food smells fine and has only been in the refrigerator for a couple of days, take the next step and perform a taste test.
Some other signs Chinese food has gone bad include:
· Visible Mold
· Meat and Vegetables Are Covered in a Slimy Film
· There is Discoloration
· Its Texture Seems Different
· It Takes on a Pungent Odor
Is It Safe to Have Frozen Chinese Food?
It’s completely safe to eat frozen Chinese food as long as you adhere to the tips we mentioned above. Again, if the food has been in the refrigerator for more than three days or the freezer for more than three months, it’s probably time to pitch it. But if you safely and securely store the food within the recommended time frame, take it out, (defrost it, if necessary) warm it up – and enjoy!
How Long Is Fried Rice Good For?
If you’ve gobbled up all of the meat and vegetables already – and ONLY have rice as leftovers – you can store your rice in the fridge for up to five days, according to Limitless Cooking.
Is It Okay to Reheat Chinese Takeaway Food?
It’s completely fine to reheat your Chinese takeaway once. But to err on the safe side, don’t reheat it more than once. The food will lose its taste the more you reheat it, and bacteria could form on it.
Is It Better to Freeze or Refrigerate Chinese Food?
Choosing whether to freeze or refrigerate your Chinese food is a personal decision that likely comes down to how quickly you want to eat the fare again. If you want to finish your leftovers in the next couple of days, it’s best to put them in the refrigerator.
Is It Okay to Cook Chinese Leftovers in the Oven?
Although you obviously don’t want to thaw your Chinese food in the oven, according to LiveStrong.com, the oven is a more reliable alternative than a microwave oven to reheat your Chinese food because it heats more evenly. You can set the oven to 350 degrees and cook the leftovers until they’ve reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
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