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I cleaned my kitchen cupboard and found a packet of ancho chili (dried poblano) that I bought a really long time ago (about 10 years?)

Can I still use them in recipes or do they have a "best before date" ?

They still look good, they do not look to be damaged in any way (I don't have bugs or other critters at home)

Thanks.

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  • In the UK dried chillies & the like tend to have about a 2 year best before date. Personally I've discovered that some from my choice suppliers are still better at 2 years than 'fresh' packs from the regular supermarket. So… ymmv. Anecdotally, since I switched supplier, I'm now having to learn to use one bay leaf where I previously used 4. that's how much difference.
    – unlisted
    Sep 19 '20 at 6:58
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Dried hot peppers lose flavor and heat over time. At ten years old, your poblano peppers are probably fairly bland. Smell them. If they don't smell bad, taste them. (Taste them cautiously; they may still have some heat.)

If they are completely tasteless, then there's really no point in using them. The wouldn't be harmful, they just won't add anything to your dish.

Worst case scenario, they have picked up some bad flavors from their time in storage. They may bring dusty or musty flavors to your dish. Or they may just taste like a generic mixture of all the things you have in your cupboard. If this is the case, throw them out.

Best case scenario, they still have some good taste, and possibly some spiciness. If this is the case, go ahead and use them. Use more than you normally would; use your judgement to estimate how much more than normal. If you also want the spiciness that your dried peppers are lacking, supplement with some hot pepper flakes or cayenne powder.

When you run out and buy more dried peppers, remember that the new ones will be much spicier. Use the new ones very carefully until you get used to using them, or you will over-spice your dish.

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  • I'd say this is a bit generous. I think if you couldn't afford to throw them away (ie: starving and impoverished) they could provide some food value, but after 10 years I would say they are dead and done beyond any doubt as an ingredient you would use to enhance a dish. When you could just go get a fresh bag of them, why wouldn't you?
    – J...
    Sep 19 '20 at 15:04
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    I wrote this answer not only for the OP, but also for anyone who has a slightly old bag of dried peppers. At 10 years old, OP's peppers are probably not worth saving, but someone might have some 3-year-old peppers that are still usable, if a bit bland. Regardless, you lose nothing by sniffing your dried peppers, and tasting them if they smell okay.
    – csk
    Sep 19 '20 at 17:54
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    @J... Not to be off-topic, but cultural values in many cases. No idea about OP, but I grew up poor, eating mostly vegetables from the garden. Food waste was anathema. Although my circumstances have changed for the better, I have always carried that with me. I literally panic a little when I can't finish my food at a restaurant and it's not appropriate to ask for a carryout box. (+1 btws)
    – kitukwfyer
    Sep 19 '20 at 17:54
  • Thanks for the answer; it's not a "life or death" situation, I think I'll try making a simple sauce with them and see how it goes.
    – Max
    Sep 19 '20 at 21:11
  • @kitukwfyer I hate wasting food too and put a lot of effort into using all of what I buy. Nevertheless, by the time you've gotten to letting something run a decade past expiry the damage is done, and all the regret in the world won't undo the degeneration of time. I think anyone who was so in need of food would not have let them go bad in the first place, and for everyone else it's just not sensible to eat spoiled, stale food unless you feel like the punishment is required to correct the behaviour that allowed the waste in the first place.
    – J...
    Sep 20 '20 at 13:16

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