Bay leaves can be stored in a variety of ways, and if stored correctly, can last for up to two years. This article has all the details on how to store bay leaves to best preserve their flavor.
Storing bay leaves
Bay leaves provide a characteristic flavoring to many dishes, and bay trees are an attractive addition to any garden.
If you grow bay at home, it grows best if pruned regularly to keep their shape. If you have just pruned your bay tree and have a lot of bay leaves for storage, there are a few different options you can choose from storing fresh bay leaves, to drying or freezing the leaves.
First, prepare bay leaves for storing
However you plan on storing your bay leaves, you should wash and dry them thoroughly first, and remove any blemishes from the leaves.
This is important to remove any dirt or dust that may have settled on the leaves while they were growing, and means that they are ready to use in your cooking straight from storage.
Simply rinse them under cool water and gently pat them dry with paper towels. Cut out any blemishes with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors.
How to store fresh bay leaves
You can store fresh bay leaves in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Discard any that become discoloured over time. They should last for up to ten days.
However, the flavor of fresh bay leaves can be bitter, and they are usually dried before use as the flavor become sweeter once they are dried. Bay leaves are easy to dry, though it can take a long time to get them completely bone dry (like store-bought bay leaves).
Drying bay leaves
Probably the best way to store bay leaves is to dry them. Drying bay leaves is easy, but can take some time. The benefit is that dried bay leaves, stored correctly, and last up to 2 years.
Simply wash and dry the leaves, then place on a baking tray between sheets of parchment or paper towels. Then place the baking tray in a warm dry place until the leaves have completely dried out.
For more details, see this tutorial on how to dry bay leaves.
How to store dried bay leaves
Once the bay leaves are dried out, store them in an air tight container in a cool dark place for up to a year. An air tight jar or zip lock bag are ideal.
You can store them for a few weeks in a well sealed paper bag, however, the flavorful oils will eventually diffuse through the paper.
For more info, see this article on how to store dried herbs.
How to freeze bay leaves
If you don’t have the time or the space to dry your bay leaves before you store them, freezing is a really great way to store them for the long-term. They should last for around 3 months in the freezer.
To freeze your bay leaves, it is as simple as making sure they are clean and dry, then placing them into a freezer safe bag, and popping them into the freezer. When you seal the bag try to ensure that you squeeze out as much of the air as possible.
If you have a lot of bay leaves you want to freeze, it is best to store them in small batches.
When you are ready to use some bay leaves in your cooking, just grab them from one of your bags, making sure you reseal the bag well if it still contains bay leaves (again removing as much air as possible). There is no need to defrost them before you use them, just pop them straight into whatever you are cooking.