How to Dry Bay Leaves: Methods and Storage

Dried bay leaves are widely used in cooking.

Without a doubt, the laurel is one of the most used aromatic plants in Mediterranean cuisine. In addition, it is a very easy vegetable to grow at home. It can be planted directly in garden or orchard soil or in pots. With good care, we can harvest its leaves to give a little more flavor to our dishes. However, it is important that we know how to dry bay leaves before adding them to food.

To help you enrich your dish and your knowledge, in this article we will explain how to dry bay leaves and also how to keep them so that they last longer. I hope this information is useful for you!


How are bay leaves dried?

To dry bay leaves, you should not give them sunlight

Before explaining how to dry bay leaves, it is important to note that the laurus nobilis It is the only edible species of the laurel family. This vegetable is usually not eaten freshly picked, as it has a very spicy and bitter taste. As for bay leaves, they are rough, tough and even dangerous if eaten raw. This is why it is essential to dry them beforehand. before adding them to our dishes.

While it is true that this aromatic plant is mainly used to flavor various culinary recipes, such as stews, soups, fish or meat, it is also used in the pharmaceutical world. Bay laurel has certain medicinal properties that have been used for a long time. For example, it is of great help to carry out digestion, reduce inflammation or relieve stomach ailments. In addition, bay leaves have insecticidal components which can be very useful in controlling and repelling some of the most common pests in gardens and orchards.

Related article:

Uses of bay leaf as an insecticide

When it comes to drying bay leaves, we can use different processes. However, we will explain the traditional method, which is the easiest, since no type of tool is required. It is best to collect the leaves in the summer in the morning, because that is when they are the driest. Then, they can be dried in two ways: Take and dry only the leaves of the vegetable or the cut branches and dry them in bunches. Both options are very similar in terms of process and drying time.

Only dry the leaves

To dry only bay leaves, they must first be collected carefully so that they do not break. When selecting them, the most recommended is take those that are healthy and have no marks of any kind. If possible, larger ones are the best option. In case they have a little humidity, they must be dried with paper towels for example.

Once we have the leaves, we must prepare a large, well-ventilated space. It is important that has no humidity and does not receive direct sunlight. There you need to place kitchen towels and lay bay leaves on them. The further away they are, the better.

After having placed them as far apart as possible, it is necessary to let them dry for at least two weeks. Occasionally we may remove them to ensure they all dry equally. After the drying time has elapsed, the bay leaves should have turned a dark green color and be completely dry. In case they still have a soft touch area, we should leave them for another day or two.

dry bodices

The process of drying laurel bouquets is very similar to the previous one. Instead of just picking up the leaves, we should use garden shears to cut off some small branches and then tie them together. Each bouquet should ideally contain about five or six units. Once the bouquets are tied, we must hang them upside down in a well-ventilated place that does not receive direct sunlight, as in the case of the leaves. They should stay there for two to three weeks, depending on the environment of the room. It must be said that the darkness will give them a much stronger and more powerful aroma and flavor.

How to Store Bay Leaves

Dried bay leaves should be stored in airtight seals.

Now that we know how to dry bay leaves, what do we do with them? The best way to store them is to put them in plastic bags with hermetic closures. Another option would be to store dried bay leaves in covered mason jars. As for the location, it is best to keep them in cool places and without direct sunlight. This way they will retain their flavor and aroma for longer. We can usually store bay leaves this way for about an entire year.

Tips and tricks

We already know everything we need to know about how to dry bay leaves and store them afterwards. I will still give you some tips and tricks on this aromatic plant.

It is of utmost importance that we keep the sheets sheltered from the sun to better preserve its flavor and aroma. In addition, the color of the same will be better preserved if we keep them in the dark. A rather curious fact is that the best way to store dried bay leaves is in the refrigerator. Thanks to the cold, they retain their aroma much better. Of course, they must always be tightly closed.

It should be noted that the leaves are usually very strong in terms of flavor. For this reason, a single bay leaf is usually enough to flavor a meal, such as a stew. Once the cooking is finished, it is advisable to remove the foil, as it is not very pleasant to bite on it and it can be a bit annoying.

By heeding these tips and following the steps for drying bay leaves, you can now try it yourself at home. In addition, This same process can also be used for other aromatic plants, such as oregano, rosemary or thyme. These are usually cut into branches and can be left to dry hanging or flat, but following the same guidelines for the environment as for the laurel.

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