Review: Red River Cereal

Red River Cereal is what it is — a simple hot breakfast with a whole lot of fibre. Also, an acquired taste.

I picked up the Red River Cereal habit as a kid living in Winnipeg. It’s sort of like oatmeal porridge, but with a mix of different grains standing in for the oats. The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler: Cracked wheat, cracked rye, flax (cracked and whole). That’s it.

Preparation is just as simple. Put water in a large microwave-safe bowl, add a pinch of salt, add the Red River Cereal, then zap in the microwave. Stir when the microwave finishes, let it sit for five minutes, then serve and enjoy.

For me, one serving isn’t enough to fill me up, so I double the batch size and adjust the water and cooking ratios accordingly. My standard ratio is 1/2 cup of Red River Cereal to about 1 3/4 cups of water, plus a pinch of salt. I microwave it on high for nine minutes, stir it when it finishes, then let it sit to cool down. Your microwave mileage may vary.

On its own, it’s not very flavourful — you can’t expect a lot, given the limited ingredients — but a sprinkling of brown sugar on top brings out the best in the grainy flavours and turns it into a healthy alternative to instant oatmeal. It’s simple, it’s nutritious, and it’s crazy cheap.

Tips:

  • Use a large bowl when preparing it in the microwave. It gets very bubbly as it cooks, and the boiling hot froth can easily spill over the top of a bowl.
  • The box is all cardboard, so you might want to store it in a different container once you open the box.

Add a bit of brown sugar on top of your Red River Cereal, and the taste changes entirely.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $4.49 per 1.35 kg box at a local grocery store.

Value for cash money: Insanely cheap. One standard serving uses 40 grams of cereal, and a box contains 1.35 kg of cereal — that’s just shy of 34 servings per box. At a cost of $4.49 per box, that works out to around 13 cents per serving. See? Cheap AND good for you.

Availability: Some larger grocery stores in Western Canada carry it, but not all.

Nutrition?: Great stuff. Per 1/4 cup serving, you get 6 grams of fibre (24 per cent of the daily value!), 6 grams of protein, and 10 per cent of the daily value of iron. And all this will only cost you 150 calories. (Add some brown sugar to the top, and it’ll maybe climb to 200 calories, depending on how much you use.)

The verdict: An acquired taste. I love having it on a cold winter morning, when a bowl of cold cereal just won’t cut it. It’s a Canadian prairie classic.

UPDATE (Dec. 29, 2011): As some of you have noted, Red River Cereal was the subject of a recall earlier this year. But have no fear — it’s back in grocery stores across the country. I just spoke with a rep from Smucker Foods Canada, and they confirmed that new stock was sent to stores on December 1, 2011. As double-confirmation, I spotted some fresh boxes at my local Safeway in Calgary earlier this month. Hooray! —iain

 

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48 Responses to “Review: Red River Cereal”

  1. Totally, a prairie classic, except I always cook it on the stove top. The right amount of salt is essential.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I used to eat this, but it’s gone my the wayside. Great review! I’ll have to hunt it down at my grocery store. It’ll give me another option for breakfast. I remember putting applesauce or pearsauce on it. It’s a nice replacement for brown sugar.

  3. I ate Red River Cereal in the 60’s and it cooked up nice a creamy (a lot like Cream of Wheat). I purchased some recently, and it seems to have changed. I cooked up some a few times but found the grains stayed too individual and too grainy and not smooth in my mouth, even though I like the flavour.

  4. I tried this oatmeal, for the first time, I liked it very much, and will get more, but, it took 9 minutes in my 1200 watt microwave oven to reach the correct consistancy. The box states 5 minutes.my question is what makes the difference, was the microwave you cooked it in more than 1200 watts? Thanks for your reply !

    • Hmmm. Curious. My microwave is also 1,200 watts. My guess? The time difference could come down to how well cooked you like your Red River Cereal. Extra time will likely make it more mushy. Also, it’s important to let it stand for a bit after cooking so that it softens, absorbs extra water and becomes less soupy. Besides, eating it piping hot is a good way to burn your tongue. 🙂

  5. Have been searching for Redriver in some grocery stores in Scarborough without any luck. Where can I find it now, which grocery store?
    thanks.

  6. You don’t want to move it into another container unless it is light-proof. For ground flax to retain it’s health benefits it must not be exposed to light.

  7. I also live in Scarborough and cannot find it in Priceco, Loblaws, or No Frills. I hope I won’t have to eat some of the other junk they sell as food.

  8. I found a source of “Red River Cereal”. The No Frills at Cedarbrae Plaza has this product. Last year Loblaws had it? JOE HICKEY

  9. I live in Scarborough and often find Red River at No Frills (best price around). Occasionally, they don’t have it in stock. They also sporadically carry Steel Cut Oats in a light blue cylindrical package. No Frills often carry just one or the other cereal usually on the bottom shelf.

    I cook a large batch at a time on the stovetop, then reheat in the microwave daily (adding water as needed to loosen, or yogourt after reheating).

    Red River Steelcut Oatmeal
    1 cup Red River and 1 Cup Steel cut oats and 8 cups water. Cook to desired consistency. Add cinnamon cloves, nutmeg, salt if desired.

  10. When it comes to Red River I’m a stovetop guy. Alway had good success cooking it on the stovetop. I like to sweeten it with a teaspoon of pure maple syrup instead of brown sugar. Sometimes I’ll use molasses as well to sweeten it up.

  11. Besides having it for breakfast I started making red river bannock. It’s great : 1/3 cup red river cereal cooked in water and cooled, 31/4 flour, 11/4 tsp salt, 2 tblsp plus 1/2 tsp baking powder,1/4 cup plus 1 tblsp vegetable oil, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup milk plus 3 tblsp. Mixt together and knead 10 times and roll out to a good inch thick. Cook on greased cookie sheet at 350 for 1/2 an hour or til lightly browned. Sooo good.

  12. Try this as a side dish.

    2 cups of Chicken Broth
    dash of Soya Sauce
    1/2 cup approximately Red River Cereal

  13. I grew up in Calgary eating Red River cereal in the 80’s and I absolutely love it. My dad cooked it for me on the stovetop and I do the same. I just recently started buying it again as another option for breakfast (and to rekindle childhood memories), but the latest box I got produces a slimy, phlegm-y substance while it cooks. Naturally, it is impossible to eat with that texture… Has anyone else experienced this??

    • Just give it a good stir Dave and its fine

    • Hi Dave – I forgot to send my comments via your thread. See my post of December 2nd. I, too, could not eat it due to the slimy substance – I first noticed it on my wooden stir spoon but thought it would disappear when the cooking had completed Not so.

    • Yes I noticed that and it puts me off terribly!! I almost gag trying to eat it because of the phlemy stuff!! I'm so glad that someone else noticed it too. Whats the solution I wonder.. Reply September 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

      YES!! I have noticed it and it’s awful. I can hardly eat it because of the phlemy stuff – it never was like that in the past. Whats the solution I wonder…

  14. Yes actually I have – was on sale at Sobey’s so we bought two boxes of it – every batch we’ve made so far is disgustingly slimy and is almost impossible to eat without gagging. I’m thinking of finding some baking recipes to use up the rest of it because I can’t get it to cook right.

  15. I love this cereal i eat no other…healthy and i love the taste…wish my kids got into the nack of it too…i healthy way to start your day

  16. I should add that I regularly use Red River Cereal when making multi-grain bread. It adds extra texture to a loaf of whole wheat.

  17. I, too, bought a large (and inexpensive as mentioned) box of Red River cereal yesterday. This morning, I cooked it on the stovetop, as directed, and it was sooooo slimey I tossed it………….and the rest of the package. That is definitely not as I remember the texture in the past, and it has not been that long since I had it; perhaps a couple of years at most?

    And, Iain, I did give it a stir or two after it had sat its couple of minutes – am still not going near it with all the slime on the top!

    Wish this whole incident had not happened – I have been put off Red River cereal now. Sorry gang!

    • We just bought a box of Red River cereal in April, 2015. It cooks up with a disgusting slime in it that makes you want to gag. We cooked it strictly according to instructions. It used to be great cereal, I was practically raised on it. Seems they always have to “fix” something that doesn’t need fixing. They’re making it in the US now, perhaps mass production without quality? The package labeling is misleading as it says the, “Original Red River Cereal.” It is not the original cereal. I have a feeling that some of ingredient list is missing. I won’t be buying it anymore unless they change it back to the way it used to be. Anyway, I’m throwing it out to the birds, hopefully they don’t gag on it!

  18. Do not microwave. Microwave kills nutrients. By the way, I process it in a coffee grinder before cooking (in milk or water).

  19. This is the first box I have bought that has created a slime while cooking. Yes, I stir it well but still does not have the texture that i have enjoyed for years. I may not buy it anymore it is that bad. What has the company done/allowed?

  20. After cooking, I just rinse mine (forcefully) with really hot water through a sieve and the slime is gone! I like to eat mine with brown sugar and milk, so it gets back to having that cereal feel to it. The only downfall is that it isn’t as hot a straight from the stove.

  21. I love my RRC…but why is is slimy now?..I cook it with more cereal to water ration because I like it thick….its kind of gelatinous. Have they changed the recipe?

  22. Yes Michelle they changed the recipe and its also now made in the USA. I am so sad as I loved this cereal how is was. I will not buy it anymore. I even wrote to them. They just sent a coupon. so sad.

  23. We used to love Red River cereal, but find that the texture is now much coarser and harder to cook. The result is a slimy substance around large and hard to chew grains. Sadly, we won’t be buying it anymore.

  24. I bought a new box as well and found it was difficult to eat as was slimy (a good word for it) when rinsing my pot found the slime like glue would not go through the sieve in my sink drain, and held the water back as well. Wondering how that can be good for me. Really don’t know what to do with the rest of the box of it, bake or toss?

  25. I have eaten red river since I was a child (55 now) they changed the formula so now it is a slime like pig slop. I recommend trying Sunny boy.

    • Wow. Same age, same experience. PIG SLOP it is — I have been out of the country for years, and this week I’m back in Canada enjoying my brother’s empty house while he’s on vacation. (Thanks, brother dear!) I was elated to see a fresh, unopened package of Red River on top of his fridge, and I cooked up a batch. (Like yourself, I remember growing up on this.)

      WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO IT??? It is pure slimy pig slop. And like a writer above, the slime wouldn’t go down the drain.

      Wow. Talk about ruining a good thing. I’m sure it’s all GMO stuff now.

  26. I enjoy RedRiver Cereal and have had no problem cooking it on the stove. A very similar breakfast cereal is Sunny Boy cereal. There may be a difference in the ratio of flax to wheat. I believe it was only available in the west but is now more available in the east. It is a Canadian product which uses local grains.

  27. We just bought a box of Red River cereal in April, 2015. It cooks up with a disgusting slime in that make you want to gag. We cooked it strictly according to instructions. It used to be great cereal, I was practically raised on it. Seems they always have to “fix” something that doesn’t need fixing. Sad to hear they’re making it in the US now, has it come down to mass production without quality? I have a feeling that some of ingredient list is missing. I won’t be buying it anymore unless they change back to the way it used to be. Anyway, I’m throwing it out to the birds, hopefully they don’t gag on it!

    • I, too, am disappointed in the “new” Red River Cereal. What was wrong with the old original?

      I thought maybe I had cooked it incorrectly,although I followed the same procedure I used years ago.

      I do force the slime down my throat,however, knowing that at least I’m eating something that’s good for me.

    • I called Smuckers to complain about the slimy consistency of Red River cereal, which never used to be when I ate it years ago. The lady stated that the ingredients were changed about a year ago, substituting steel cut oats for the cracked wheat. She also said she didn’t know why it was now being produced in the U.S.
      I mentioned that there were several comments about the slimy consistency on this website. She said that she would forward my comments on to the person(s) responsible for its production.

  28. Hello do you ship to montreal quebec by the case

    Looking to purchase red river cereal

    Many thanks
    Anna Biason

  29. Can confirm presence of slimy phlegmy substance during cooking stovetop. Is this due to flax seed? If so, how could it not always have been there?

  30. I called Smuckers today to lodge a complaint about the “new and improved” Red River Cereal.
    I mentioned I found it slimy and almost inedible, not at all as it used to be when I ate it as a child.
    When I asked the lady what happened, she said they changed the formula about one year ago, substituting steel cut oats for the usual cracked wheat.
    She also said she would forward my comments on to someone responsible for its manufacture.
    So-we can always hope!!

  31. I moved to the states 14 years ago and recently brought back a box of Red River from a visit to Leduc. It is, as noted, slimy. I was also surprised to see that it was made in the states. My suspicion is that the wheat they are using is soft American instead of hard Canadian, resulting in the slimy texture. Does that make sense?

  32. After reading these comments, I now know it was not just me who was so disappointed in the “NEW” Red River Cereal. Why would they change the original cereal?? I find I can’t possibly eat it, I do not want to chew my cereal, and it has such a bland taste. So have been trying to find a simple recipe to use it up. There are some but want it to have “Red River Cereal” as main ingredient, so I can use it up. Did see a recipe for Bannock in this comment part, may try it, never made Bannock, but may try?

  33. So disappointed, not the same as it used to be, many years ago!! Why change a good thing? Will try the Bannock recipe noted in comments. Will not eat as a breakfast cereal, no way to start a day.

  34. Also found the slimy consistency. Have found that cooking it longer than the prescribed time seems to eliminate the slime. I think it says to cook (stovetop) for 14 minutes….I usually cook it for about 17. As the water content reduces so does the slime. Still kinda off-putting though.

  35. Always my favourite, cooked up a batch for breakfast this morning. Gross slim, tried skimming it off with a spoon, didn’t work, cooked it longer and it just mixed into the cereal. My first impression was a cereal with a layer of snot on it.
    Thanks but no thanks I will now work on finding a replacement to eat. Will not buy again unless they bring back the old formula

    • Folks, stop with the slime nonsense. All that’s happened is that RRC is now grinding a portion of the flax – instead of using whole flax only. So, the flax liberates a bit more starch. Stir it and wait 2 minutes. Many people pointed out that whole flax mostly goes right through you – so, good idea to grind it. If you add a bit of oatmeal to RRC, also makes it a bit more porridg-ey. But, you now have Both Soluble and Insoluble fibre. No need to add sugar – throw in some raisins and dried, unsweetened cranberries. Very good cereal, health-packed!

  36. Hi I been eating Red River Cereal for over 50 years. It has changed some. I used to eat it only in winter but due to some “issues” I started eating it year round every day. Never felt better!..Don’t microwave. I cook enough for 4 days
    1 cup red river 3 cups water ..salt to taste. Bring to a boil.. no stirring . . then simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off stove then Cover and let cool. Place pot in refrigerator. In the morning take a spoon a remove your serving. Microwave for app 90 sec. I serve it with milk brown sugar and rasins. No Slime. Give it a try.

  37. I used to like Red River cereal but the slime on top of the cereal makes you not want to eat it anymore. I scooped the slime off a pot of Red River cereal and I filed a whole coffee cup with the slime.
    I will not be buying it anymore.

  38. I just bought my first box of the red river cereal by accident thinking it was cream of wheat. Ha ha! I didn’t know what to do with it so I cooked it up with milk instead of water and a little bit of sugar and let it simmer for 15 minutes it’s pretty nice I’m just wondering if it’s supposed to be so crunch? I’ve never had crunch porridge before so I wondering if it’s ok? Also I don’t see any slime maybe because I boiled it in milk?

  39. I can’t believe I discovered this awesome hot breakfast cereal after 40 years (and from Winterpeg too) when the lodge I moved into this year in the oilsands served this and loved it! It’s served every 2nd day and always look forward to it with a teaspoon of brown sugar, raisins and walnuts. It’s an acquired taste and hope more people will embody this healthy and affordable meal!