Yet Another "Can I Eat This?"
September 10, 2017 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I purchased an entire bushel of delicious freshly roasted Hatch chilis. And then left them overnight on the kitchen table. They're in the frig now ... I'd been planning to freeze them and make chili later. Sigh. How risky is this? I wouldn't serve them to anyone else now. Or do I need to kiss that $25 (and those delicious chilis) goodbye?
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
I don't see why you wouldn't eat them. Chilis do not need to be refrigerated.
posted by amro at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2017 [15 favorites]

Well, I'm sure you already googled like I did, but this site would really put the fear of g*d into me about eating these things without at least boiling the crap out of them first.
posted by ftm at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

That website is talking about botulism, which can't thrive in an oxygen environment. As long as OP has oxygen in their kitchen, the chilis should be good to go.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

When you say you left them out, were they in a closed bag? Or open?

The website about botulism is talking about peppers that are in an oxygen poor environment. If you bought them freshly roasted, and stuffed tightly in a plastic bag and knotted, and left out overnight, I wouldn't eat that, per the botulism warning. If they were on a plate or in an open paper bag, I can't see how they'd be unsafe.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:25 PM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Chillies contain natural antimicrobials. I would eat them without hesitation.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 2:50 PM on September 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

When you buy chiles from a roaster, they'll tie them up in a big plastic trash bag to steam so the skins are easier to remove. If they were like this, yeah, it's sounds like they could have picked up botulism.

BUT boiling kills botulism, and you're making green chili, so you could probably go ahead and make the chili and just make sure to boil the chilis in water or stock for whatever the recommended time is for your altitude.

BUT, still, botulism! It's early in the season still and chilis usually aren't that expensive, so I'd probably just toss this batch and go get a new bushel just so I didn't even have to think about it.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:21 PM on September 10, 2017

Get a new batch. This bunch may have been contaminated and it sounds like they were stored in an oxygen poor environment, which means if there was botulism, they have secreted the toxin, which is tasteless and odorless. Killing the toxin now doesn't help mitigate the toxin that would already be in the peppers. Heat does not destroy the toxin, which is why bulging or dented cans are so dangerous.
posted by bilabial at 3:31 PM on September 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would absolutely 100% make food with these without hesitating.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:41 PM on September 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'd eat this without a second thought.
posted by kensington314 at 4:04 PM on September 11, 2017

I would eat the hell out of these.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:03 PM on September 11, 2017

I would and have eaten chiles that have been sitting longer than this.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:26 PM on September 11, 2017

First off, sounds like those are chiles -- not chilis -- which might be helpful for any searches you are doing.

Unrefrigerated roasted chile does have the usual food safety recommendations about dangerous temperature ranges, etc. I've had food poisoning and would happily pay $25 to avoid it, but that's up to you.

Fresh chiles don't need to be refrigerated. Roasted ones certainly do and I think that people who don't think they need refrigeration must have just not encountered the roasted chile tradition.
posted by yohko at 6:28 PM on September 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I really hate to keep hammering at this, but I get the impression that people saying they'd eat them without hesitation are glossing over the 'roasted' part because they're unfamiliar with the process. It's still not very well known outside of a few southwestern US states.

This is a chile roaster. They set up little temporary locations during chile season, where they have bushels of raw chiles, usually in laundry baskets. You pick a basket and they roast them there for you, then they dump them into a trashbag, where they finish cooking on their way back to your house.

The roasters almost always tell you to open the bag within an hour or so to air them out if they think you might be unfamiliar with the process. It's pretty much common knowledge around here, though. Hell, I always knew you weren't supposed to let them sit around in the closed bag, but I had just assumed it was to prevent regular garden variety barfing style food poisoning. I didn't know how serious the risk was until now. I lean toward the risky end of the spectrum when it comes to regular food poisoning. I've had it and hated it and all, but I weigh that against all the great food I've eaten that didn't make me sick. Botulism, though.

Botulism isn't regular "stomach flu" type food poisoning where you can make risk-reward type calculations. It's pretty hard core stuff.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:02 AM on September 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I get the impression that people saying they'd eat them without hesitation are glossing over

I wasn't thinking they were dried or anything. I would still totally eat them. I roast peppers. The number of things that have been left on my counter overnight that I have eaten would horrify people, I guess. The only things that I wouldn't eat are quite literal meat like 'chicken' but that's more because it would taste gross.

I have had food poisoning twice, but from outside sources, like a deli, although I do understand that there's killing food poisoning and barfing food poisoning and apparently I've only had the latter because it makes it much easier to be typing this.

That said:
I wouldn't serve them to anyone else now.

Kinda hits the 'do unto others' button for me. I *would* eat them. But if I wouldn't, I wouldn't serve them either.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:31 PM on September 12, 2017

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