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Using dried chile's

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I remember reading some time ago that dried chile's that are brittle and break instead of being pliable aren't any good. Does this mean they are inedible, or just not ideal to use?

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  1. I haven't heard that but I use a lot of dried chiles and I've used brittle ones with no loss of flavor.

    1. That's a sweeping condemnation. Which chile and for what purpose? I suppose it merely means that they are very old, hence stale. I just checked my bag of dried New Mexican chiles and the are, indeed, pliable. I've had them for a year or so, so there is plenty of time to use them before they reach this state.

      When I find something in the back of my cupboard that's more than 20 years old, I usually through it out.

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      1. I use old dried chilies all the time. I live in a country that thinks a jalapeno is exotic, so I have to bring them back with me when I make my annual trek to the US. I can't say whether they have lost flavor by then because I have nothing to compare them with, but they taste great. I soak them and grind them, usually. I would say that if you're going to char them in a pan, they work better if they are supple, but otherwise I wouldn't toss them until you determine they are dead. And I also have some that are several years old. Wipe the cobwebs from them and give 'em a go!

        1. Brittle chiles aren't inedible, just difficult to work with. Stemming and seeding dried chiles in an exercise in patience. I would just soak them in water a bit longer.

          Good luck!

          By the way, if any of you know if small-scale farmers in the US or Mexico that produce dried chiles, please let me know. Thank you!

          1. I use dried chiles that have been dried for years and are stored in glass jars. They must be rehydrated in hot water and then pureed. Just remove the stems and seeds before breaking up and putting them in the water. I've been a cultivator of fresh chiles for more than 35 years. The current rage is the 'bhut jolokia' from India.

            1. IMO, theyre all pliable again once theyre rehydrated! haha

              1. I use 'em pliable or crunchy. In fact, my ristras of home-grown bhut jolokias from last summer are just now getting crunchy, so I've been slicing 'em open, deseeding some, and whirring them in a spice grinder (for peppers only) for use dish-by-dish. Sometimes I'll rehydrate crunchy peppers, sometimes use 'em dried & crushed. I like the varieties of heat, flavor, texture of differing levels of dryness. (Still using dried habs that I made into flaming hot jam, too).

                1. Thanks for the responses, everyone. I want to say I heard Rick Bayless make the remark about avoiding brittle chiles. I actually posed this question to Michael Ruhlman on Twitter a few weeks ago, whether or not they're not to be used or just not the most ideal product to use, and he said that it depends. Sometimes when I'm at the grocery store, I'll try to test the pliability of the chile's through the packaging and I'd say most of the time the chile's break. One poster in this thread mentioned he had chile's from a year ago that are still pliable and that suprised me - I got some ancho's and pasilla's from Terra Spice (a pretty reputable spice company) over the summer and they're pretty brittle now even after storing them correctly.

                  Anyways, I'm just glad to know they're still good!