The Stale Cereal Rescuing Hack Your Pantry Needs Right Now

Rise and shine, up and at 'em. It's another day on the grind and like most days, you want to start the day off with some hot coffee and a cold bowl of nutritious healthy cereal. You grab the box of cornflakes out of the cabinet, slice some bananas on top of it, pour in some ice-cold milk, and... it's stale. The crunch of the cornflakes is now replaced by this odd, chewy,  almost "off" texture like you're eating fake cereal instead of the real thing. What a way to start the day.

Stale cereal is the bane of every breakfast, right up there with overcooked fried eggs and flat pancakes. But this isn't to say that a stale box of cereal isn't something that should go to waste. Food Hacks suggests a few ways to use up stale cereal, such as crushing them to use as a pie crust or for in-home crafts. Ree Drummond even recommends using crushed-up cereal to coat chicken breasts to make cereal chicken tenders (via Food Network). There are a few things you can do with that box of stale cornflakes, so you shouldn't toss them right away.

But what if you want to get that cereal back to its usual crunchy texture? Is there any way that you can "revive" stale cereal and save a few bucks on buying a box of new cereal?

Put your cereal in the oven

Now, you probably never considered "baking" your cereal before, let alone considered how the oven factors into something that's literally three steps to make. But if you want to save your cereal (and your money), you'll have to stick your cereal in the oven to get it back to its fresh-out-of-the-box taste.

According to the Instagram profile Problem Solved Show, which had a video discussing ways to keep cereal fresher for longer, an easy way to "revive" the crunch of stale cereal is to spread the cereal on a baking sheet and put it in a 300-degree oven. Let the cereal sit inside the oven for 5 to 10 minutes and then allow it to cool before placing back in your storage container of choice. 

But how does an oven make your cereal crunchy again? As Scientific American explains, foods such as cereal become stale when starch molecules absorb water from sources like gluten molecules or moisture from the air. As the starch molecules "crystallize," the food becomes rigid, and its texture changes. The introduction of heat helps to break up these starch molecules and remove that moisture. 

Surprisingly, a similar method exists to help "revitalize" stale spices in your cabinet. While some stale items can't be saved, it's always good to know how to keep things fresher for longer.