In this article, we will find if the food tastes better the next day or whether this is a myth. We will explain why reheated food seems to taste better, and on that note, how long is it safe to keep leftovers.
Does food taste better the next day?
Yes, food does taste better the next day, and the secret is in the structure of the products, the ingredients used, and the chemical reactions that happen between these during cooking, cooling, and reheating.
Naturally, not all food saved overnight is going to taste better. We know a salad with dressing is an inedible doughy mess after a few hours. Fried dishes lose their crispness and pasta tends to turn into gelatine. Chicken breasts, sushi, and other fish and shellfish don’t usually win many fans days after they’re prepared, either.
But a reheated chili con carne, a Bolognese sauce, a curried chicken or a lasagna, Hmm, there is nothing like it!
Why does food taste better the next day?
Recipes that improve their flavor from one day to the next to have certain factors in common. Dishes with meat and sauces, such as stews and lasagnas, generally taste better the next day.
One reason is the multitude of ingredients with their individual characteristic aromatic properties: such as onion, garlic, paprika, and herbs. Which basically adds flavor to a dish. During the cooking process, these elements undergo a series of chemical reactions within a very complex environment.
The aromatic ingredients have the most reactions, producing flavor and aroma compounds that, in turn, interact with the proteins in meats and the starches in potatoes and other vegetables.
When the dish is cooled and refrigerated and then reheated, some of these reactions continue to result in better flavor. In a freshly prepared dish, these aromatic ingredients like garlic and onion can stand out too much and fight each other.
The next day, however, they have already been mixed and softened, giving the dish a fuller and rounder flavor.
The second reason is the fat in food: Fats and collagens have a lot to do with the migration of different flavors.
When braised meat cools, the gelatinous material of collagen, tendons, and bones that has melted during cooking begins to coagulate around the pieces of meat, trapping many flavors.
This phenomenon is even more accentuated with ground beef because there is more surface to which that gelatinous flavor can adhere.
The same is true for starches. When cooked they gelatinize and when they cool they go through a process called retrogradation. In this process, the flavor compounds of the sauce in which they are found are trapped in its structure.
Those flavor-laden pieces of potato, yucca, and plantains stand out in the next day’s sancochos. This process also positively influences the texture of foods. At least with a curry or stew, the sauce can become thicker and creamier.
When a card-based dish is cooled and reheated, it becomes more viscous because the protein fibers break down, releasing the interstitial or gelatinous material that is between the cells.
Each time the protein cools and reheats, a little more of this substance is released and the liquid around it thickens. However, be careful to repeat this process too many times. When food is reheated many times, the meat tends to become stringy.
There are certain guidelines that must be followed in reheating food, as well as its initial preparation, refrigeration, and storage, to get the most out of it. When preparing a meat sauce or stew, it is recommended to first brown the meat over high heat.
How long is it safe to keep leftovers?
As a general rule, it is not advisable to keep leftovers in the refrigerator for more than three or four days, regardless of whether they are meat or vegetable dishes, when kept in optimal conditions, i.e. in closed containers as tight as possible.
Bacteria grow harder at low temperatures, but do not disappear. Many people tend to procrastinate, especially when it comes to home cooking, for which they have made an effort because they do not want to waste time and money invested in that dish.
The first step in making sure that the food will last as long as possible is not to leave it out for more than two hours after you have finished cooking. Of course, some things spoil faster than others. Homemade mayonnaise, for example, as well as mayonnaise-based foods, cannot be stored for more than 24 hours if we are extremely correct.
The time can be extended to egg ice cream for up to 48 hours. We must take great care especially for baby food, which should be consumed on the day it was prepared. Even if the smell and taste of baby purees indicate that they could be consumed, after 24 hours it would be good to prepare a fresh portion.
In this article, we discussed whether food tastes better the next day or whether this is a myth. We explained why reheated food seems to taste better, and on that note, how long is it safe to keep leftovers.
Some dishes do taste better the next day. Both chemistry and physics take part in this improvement. And it is that the food that is better-reheated shares certain characteristics. These preparations usually have foods that are very tasty on their own, and that is precisely added to the preparations to give them more aroma, such as onion, garlic, spices.
What do you think? Do you agree with us? We’d love to know your opinion so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!