Portable Snacks and Food Safety

The Feed Zone Cookbook recipe Allen Lim's Bacon Egg Rice Cakes by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr. Allen Lim FZC

Readers concerned about food safety have been sending in several versions of these two questions:

  1. How long will the rice cakes/muffins/portables last in my fridge?
  2. Can I freeze them?
  3. How long will the rice cakes/muffins/portables last in my jersey pocket in the heat?

Q: How long will the rice cakes/muffins/portables last?
A: Some readers have reported that the rice cakes still taste fine after 2-3 days in the fridge. But conditions vary (like how the uncooked rice was stored, how clean your pans and cooking utensils were when making the rice cakes, the temp of your fridge), so be your own judge and err on the side of caution.

Q: What about the portables that don’t include eggs or bacon, like the rice muffins?
A: Some readers have reported that muffins last as long as any other muffin, maybe 3-4 days on the counter in an airtight container.

Q: Can I freeze the rice cakes and other portables?
A: It depends on who you ask. Chef Biju says don’t do it, but several readers have reported in this post’s comments that they’ve frozen the portable snacks without any change in taste or food safety issues. Waffles are great items to stock in the freezer.

Q: How long will the rice cakes/muffins/portables last in my jersey pocket in the heat?
Answer from Allen Lim: So far, we have had no problems with rice cakes cooked fresh in the morning lasting about 5 hours in the back of a jersey pocket. We suspect that 5 hours may be conservative, but different people might have a different experience. Whatever you do, be careful. If at any time your packaging around the rice cake has been compromised, the rice doesn’t smell right, or the taste is off, then throw them out and don’t take the risk.

At the Tour, we typically make the rice cakes at about 7 a.m., wrap them in paper foil, then store them unrefrigerated in zip-top bags on the bus. The riders then start racing at about 12 pm and finish at 5 pm and they are eating the rice cakes during that whole time. So far, we haven’t had any food safety issues. We immediately throw out any leftover cakes at the end of the race and never re-purpose the rice into other dishes.

I think the paper foil makes a difference in keeping rice cakes fresh. Wrapped tightly, the foil acts as a barrier that keeps the rice from drying out and helps keep other things out. Martha Stewart paper foil or this non-stick pan lining paper by Reynolds Wrap should work well. The book includes a tutorial on how to wrap the portables in paper-foil, but you can also watch this video demo on VeloNews.com.

After tightly wrapping your cakes, you can also keep them in a zip-top bag when not in your pocket or even in your pocket. This is what most of the riders I work with do when they go on long training rides by themselves.

In the Feed Zone, the menu has changed and no one can argue with the results: real food is better. Real food tastes better, digests quickly, and helps you perform at your best.

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