Yes, You Can “Un-Stale” Food: How to Make Bad Food Good Again

A question we often get asked is “can I un-stale chips, cookies, bread, and other food?” and while “un-stale” is not technically a word, we know what you mean, and we’re here to help! Here are six methods for making bad food good again.


Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
2-minute read

Revive Wilted Lettuce

How to Un-Wilt Lettuce and Other Greens

You’ve left the lettuce in the fridge for a few days, and now it’s too wilted to use for a salad. Perk up any green (including herbs like cilantro) by submerging it in a bowl of ice water (and 1 tablespoon lemon juice if it's especially wilted). Let sit for 5–10 minutes and it will be as good as fresh.

How to Make Cookies Chewy Again

If you have crispy, stale cookies you want to make chewy again, add moisture back into them in the form of steam, with this trick: Get a microwave-safe mixing bowl and put a small cup or bowl or water in the center. Then, surround the outside of water bowl with the cookies. Place a plate or microwave-safe lid on top of the mixing bowl, then microwave until the water starts steaming (about a minute), and then in 30-second increments after that until the cookies reach your desired softness.

How to Un-Stale Potato Chips

It’s 2 a.m.—do you know where your chips are? Yes, but unfortunately, they’ve been there way too long. Microwaving, which turns bread to mush, has the opposite effect on potato chips. Just give them a whirl for 30 seconds on a glass plate. Be careful when you bring them out: they may need to cool down a bit before you can eat them.

How to Make Bread Un-Stale

So how do you make bread fresh again? Simply wet your fingers and flick some water on the top and sides of the loaf. Then wrap in foil and heat in a preheated 250º oven for 10 minutes. It will last another meal tasting fresh as new.

How to Save Soured Cream or Milk

You need a bit of half-and-half or milk with your coffee every morning, but this morning you realized it’s starting to develop that “off” odor. The good news is that your morning coffee can still be saved! Add the milk or cream to your cup first, then add a pinch of baking soda and mix with a fork. The baking soda will neutralize the lactic acid that is causing the cream to sour, and is OK to drink for one more essential cup of coffee.

How to Plump Up Stale Raisins

Sad-looking raisins or other dried fruit? To plump them up to perfection, place them a small baking dish with a little water, cover, and bake in a preheated 325°F oven for 6–8 minutes. Or, pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 10–15 minutes.

For more food tips from all over the internet, check out our In the Kitchen Pinterest board.And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.