How to Dry Bay Leaves

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If you are wondering how to dry bay leaves at home, the process is actually very simple. Drying your own bay leaves at home can save you money and means you will always have a supply of this wonderful herb on hand!

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Dried bay leaves spilling from a jar
How to dry bay leaves


Drying bay leaves at home

Bay trees (aka bay laurel, Turkish bay, or sweet bay) are a great addition to any garden, patio, or deck. They are attractive plants that can be pruned and shaped as desired.

The leaves also have a floral flavor, similar to thyme, and can be used for culinary purposes. 

Normally a dried bay leaf or two will be added to soups, stews, or slow-cooked dishes while cooking to add an aromatic flavor to complement the other herbs in the dish. 

You can also use a fresh bay leaf in cooking, however, the fresh leaves have a more subtle flavor, so generally, you should use two fresh bay leaves in place of a single dry bay leaf. 

For this reason, it is generally preferable to use dried bay leaves in cooking.

Luckily it is very easy to dry bay leaves, and they are easy to store for up to a year if dried (and stored) correctly.

>> Related article: How to Store Bay Leaves

When to Harvest Bay Leaves

Unlike other herbs which tend to have the best flavor when the leaves are young and tender, bay leaves have a more intense flavor when they are older. 

Pick mature leaves from the bay tree. Look for darker green leaves without any blemishes or damage. 

The best time to gather herbs for drying is in the morning once the dew has dried. 

Use sharp secateurs or scissors to harvest the bay leaves. A clean cut is less likely to damage the parent plant. 

>> Related article: Harvesting Bay Leaves

Dried bay leaves in a pile
Drying bay leaves at home

Air drying is the best way to dry bay leaves. Any time you apply heat to speed up the drying process you will lose the essential oils that flavor the food when you use the leaves in cooking.

See this post for more details on why it is best not to dry fresh herbs in the oven or microwave oven

Drying Bay Leaves

  1. Rinse leaves in cool water prior to drying to remove any residues. Gently shake off any excess water and pat the leaves dry.  
  2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. 
  3. Place fresh bay leaves in a single layer on the sheet. Try to ensure the leaves are not touching each other. 
  4. Place another paper towel on top of bay leaf layer. This should be loosely placed on top to allow air circulation. 
  5. Place baking sheet in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place out of direct sunlight. 
  6. Leave until completely dried out. This is likely to take 14 days or longer. You can tell when they are dried as they will curl, and the stems start to split. 
  7. Remove the bay leaves from the stems for storage. 

Storing dried bay leaves

Store dried bay leaves in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag in a cool dark place for up to 12 months. 

>> Related article: How to store bay leaves.

How to Dry Bay Leaves

Bay leaves being prepared for storage, dried bay leaves in a jar.

How to dry fresh leaves.

Materials

  • 1 bay laurel leaves [Note 1]

Tools

  • Large tray or baking sheet and baking parchment or paper towels

Instructions

  1. Harvest the bay leaves - cut the leaves when they are mature (darker green).
  2. Inspect the leaves and discard any that are damaged or discolored.
  3. Wash the bay leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or dust. Gently shake off excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Prepare the drying surface - line a large tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or paper towels.
  5. Spread bay leaves out in a single layer on the prepared drying surface.
  6. Place another layer of parchment or paper towels over the top of the bay leaves to keep the dust off.
  7. Place the tray in a dry area where it will not be disturbed, and leave bay leaves to dry.
  8. It will take a few days for the fresh leaves to dry - after around 5 days start to check daily to see when the leaves have lost all their moisture. When they are ready they will feel crunchy rather than bend.
  9. When the bay leaves have completely dried out, place them in an air tight jar or pot and store in a cool dry place.

Notes

  1. Laurus nobilis. Also known as sweet bay, or Turkish bay. You can also dry California bay leaves or Indian bay leaves using the same method.

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