Refreshing stale cereal in a dehydrator? That's a thing? It never fails - you've invested in the giant state-sized box of cereal that was on sale this week, and someone didn't bother to put a clothespin on the bag, and now it's gone stale? What can you do with stale cereal? You can refresh cereal with a dehydrator! Let me show you how!
Breakfast cereals get stale when we've allowed humid air to reach them. Your indoor humidity may only be 40%, but in an item that stays under 5% in its natural state, that extra humidity is absorbed quickly. This is why airtight storage, even for breakfast cereals and snacks is so important.
You really don't want to waste that money that you've invested in the last great sale at the store, so a few hours in a dehydrator will allow your stale cereal to get a second life!
And before we go further, let me say thanks to Dehydrate 2 Store for the amazing idea! I found it on their Instagram page just after my husband complained of his breakfast cereal being stale (as you'll see in the video below). I took the idea and ran with it, and even tested it out on a few other foods, as well!
How to Refresh Stale Cereal in a Dehydrator
►Always preheat your dehydrator when you begin to prep your produce, and dehydrate at the appropriate temperatures. Running at 160F doesn’t make things dehydrate faster, it just promotes case hardening, which you don’t want! Have you ever tested the temperature on your dehydrator?
1. Spread out on dehydrator racks
2. Set temperature to 95F/35C
You can actually use any temperature you'd like. I don't recommend going above 140F/60C for ultra-sugary cerals.
3 Allow to dry for 3-6 hours.
Take out samples to cool at the 3 hour mark. Once cooled, taste a few. If they are crisp again, you're done.
If they still have a slight stale texture, give them more time.
4. Store in Airtight Containers.
If your breakfast cereal contains nuts and fruit, don't worry about them. They will also dry out and be fine to go right back into storage when you're done.
Be sure you find great storage containers for your pantry items so that the hard work you've done to refresh them doesn't go to waste again. Chip clips are great, but I prefer clothespins for their sturdier grip. But even better, choose great storage containers for bulk items to keep your cereal from becoming stale cereal.
What Else Can You Refresh by Dehydrating?
- Snack Crackers - We actually did try it on some name brand fish snacks - and it worked great! These were the graham cracker flavor, but all the regular cheese flavors would work as well. However, the oiler waffle wheat kind of crackers like Triscuits didn't work so well. The oil content is just too much.
- Saltine Crackers
- Pet Food - believe it or not, it works. Granted, it is a protein, and you aren't drying for long-term storage, but if your cats are like our cats and don't really want to eat food because it's been around for a while, you can dehydrate it to refresh it. It does NOT make it viable to store long-term, but can give it a short-term pick me up if your container has been left open.
What didn't work?
- Store purchased popcorn. This was popcorn that had oil in it, and it just didn't work. It was worth the experiment because it was going to be thrown out for the critters, so taking the day when the dehydrator wasn't being used was a good time to try. We'll be trying air-popped soon (no oil or butter)
What Equipment Do I Need?
I happen to use an Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator. however, this is a job that any kind of dehydrator will work just fine for. Here are some other budget-friendly dehydrator tools you might be interested in.
If you don't own a dehydrator?
You can do this in your oven. Though you'll want to make sure your oven is at its lowest temperature, and check on it often. You're going to be baking instead of merely drying, so your time will vary depending on the kind of cereal (high sugar content will go much faster).
• Airtight Containers
One of the important things about storing cereal in the pantry is that air gets in EVERYTHING unless you create a seal that it just can't get through. That's why you'll find even wax cereal bags that you roll and use a clip on still tend to get stale. It's not meant for high humidity nor for even more than a week or two of storage. So do yourself a favor - invest in some good airtight containers to help store those things that you can't get through quickly.
Other unique uses for Dehydrators
There are certainly other ways you can use a dehydrator that isn't about preserving fruits, vegetables or meats!
- Drying art projects
- Proofing bread
- Proofing yogurt
- Drying out wet documents (yep - been there done that!)
- Creating healthy Green Powders, Vegetable Powders and Fruit Powders for cooking, baking, and smoothies!
- Making your own whey protein powder
Let me know if you've had a really unique way to use your dehydrator in the comments below!