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I have a box of raisins in my cabinet that have been there for many years. Should I discard them or can they still be salvaged for use in baking or cooking?

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According to this Sun Maid specification sheet, the shelf life is up to one year, and they contain about 15% water.

This is probably not sufficiently dehydrated for truly long term storage, and mold would be a risk. Also, if they did dry further in storage they would be rock hard, and probably quite nasty.

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Some raisins have also been coated with vegetable oil (usually sunflower oil) which can go rancid quicker than raisins will dry out. – citizen Mar 17 '13 at 16:38
Almost all dates on packages are 'best by', but they have no idea what conditions you're storing it at. Also, it's when you can tell a difference, but the question asked if they could still be used for other purposes. – Joe Mar 18 '13 at 0:58

They usually spray the raisins with Sulphites to preserve them. The ones with sulphites look a little shiny whereas the ones without look a little chalky (but taste better to me).

If your cabinet is not very humid, chances are they have not gone bad. Otherwise you might see 'signs of life'.

However, the good shelf life of raisins is about a year. They are likely to carry an off taste and mess with your cooking/baking flavours.

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I just found a pack of Sun-maid that were dated 05 04 00. Opened them up & tried a couple , not too bad . And not hard at all.

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I don't know if I've ever let them go quite that far ... but I've had ones that were in the 2-3 year range. If they're in a well-sealed container (mine had been transfered to a pastic container), and didn't get extra humidity in there, dried fruit can last a very long time. – Joe Oct 6 '14 at 14:53

I just sampled a few raisins from a half-used pkg of golden raisins--"use by 10/15", stored in a ziploc bag in my refrigerator; the raisins are still pliable, no mold, no significant change in flavor. However, I think they are more sugary now...perhaps that's the downside of the aging process.

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