Can you reheat couscous?

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  • Reheating last night's dinner is a great way to save money and cut down on waste, but is it always safe to do so?

    It may be seafood, poultry and eggs that initially spring to mind when considering the dangers of reheating – but there are other foods, such as couscous, that also need to be treated with caution.

    We’re big couscous fans, whether it’s accompanying a warming Moroccan stew or bulking out a summer salad. In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find a more versatile grain.

    However, round two of last night’s tagine accompaniment can easily result in the unpleasant effects of food poising – typically nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea – if not stored correctly. And whacking the microwave on full blast won’t banish the spores in cous cous once they start to geminate. Nice.

    Can reheating couscous give you food poisoning?

    A resounding yes. When left at room temperature for a long period of time, the bugs present in couscous – and other grains and rice – will begin to multiply and can produce toxins that are poisonous to humans.

    How can you reheat couscous safely?

    If you want to eliminate the risk, keeping to these timings is key:

    • Allow couscous to cool for at least one hour before refridgerating. Putting warm food in the fridge will raise the temperature inside, turning it into an incubator for bugs.
    • But don’t keep couscous at room temperature for any longer than two hours before refrigerating – as in this state the bugs are more likely to multiply.
    • Eat leftovers within four days – rice and grains have a slightly longer shelf life than other foods such as chicken, which should be eaten within two days. And always make sure you store food in an airtight container.

    Some other tips for storing your leftover couscous safely

    • Spread leftovers evenly to ensure that the cold air can reach more of the food.
    • Space out your tupperware around your fridge so air can circulate evenly.
    • Don’t forget that it’s there! Place your tupperware at the front of the fridge.

    Now that the serious stuff is out of the way, take a look through some of our favourite cous cous recipes

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