How to Drying bay leaves

Spice King: Drying bay leaves

This spicy spice has long become familiar in our kitchen, but few people know how to dry bay leaves at home. Meanwhile, this is quite real. So here are some of the best ways to dry bay leaves.

A properly drying bay leaves will make any savory dish more aromatic, spicy, and delicious. However, if dried incorrectly, it can fill our food with bitterness. Therefore, you need to figure out how to do everything right to get a high-quality spice stored for several years.

Since antiquity, Laurel leaves have been known as a seasoning when they were actively used in cooking by the ancient Greeks and Romans. In addition, their laurel wreath was considered a symbol of victory.

Drying bay leaves
Spice King: Bay leaves

Drying bay leaves: collection and sorting of raw materials, preparation

In most regions of our country, laurel trees do not grow in the wild. However, a small specimen is easy to grow in a greenhouse on the site. And even on the windowsill of a city apartment. The plant is quite unpretentious, adapts well to artificial cultivation, gives abundant foliage, which goes to drying. It is permissible to pluck the foliage for drying from those trees that have reached two years of age or more.

Advice:

The larger the drying bay leaf, the more essential oils it contains. The means that the bay leaves will have a more intense aroma and a ‘strong’ taste.

Selection of raw materials

The collection of natural drying bay leaves in the southern regions, where laurels grow everywhere, is customary to begin at the very end of the growing season. This means that the plant has already completed flowering, fruiting and active growth. It is believed that by this time, the leaves accumulate the most significant amount of aromatic essential oils.

It is better to collect the leaf in warm, sunny, and dry weather in the morning when the morning dew is completely dry. Only whole, undamaged leaves of the same juicy green color, smooth to the touch, are suitable for drying. Spots, damage, scars are signs of disease or pest activity. Affected specimens do not go to drying.

The drying bay leaves along with branches so that they can be carefully cut off with a garden pruner, sharp scissors, or a knife. But for some methods, this option will not work. Then you can cut or pluck the leaves one at a time.

Green bay leaf
Collection of bay leaf for drying

Preparation for drying bay leaves

It is not recommended to wash any leaves before drying, but sometimes there is no other way out. When the harvest is small, it can wipe each plate with a damp cloth on both sides. If the raw material is filthy, it is still better to rinse it under tremendous water pressure. After that, put the branches or leaves on towels so that the excess water is glass, and if necessary, blot them additionally with a napkin.

It is unnecessary to chop up drying bay leaves; this will lose some essential oils with the leaked juice. Usually, small branches with 5-12 leaves are used for drying. If you decide to dry them without stems, then go for the largest ones.

Instructions and recommendations: how to properly drying bay leaves

There are several simple methods for drying bay leaves indoors or outdoors. Everyone can choose the most affordable one for themselves.

On open-air

Drying bay leave
A bunch of laurel branches

Drying time: 10-14 days.

This drying method is considered natural. With it, laurel retains most of its properties. Therefore many prefer air drying.

This way, you can dry only small branches because stringing each leaf will be inconvenient. And after piercing, they will lose some of the juice with essential oils.

  • Choose a time in dry, warm weather with low humidity.
  • Cut the laurel branches with leaves to a length of 6-10 inches.
  • Tie bundles of 3-6 of them.
  • Stretch nylon or harsh thread in a convenient place with good ventilation and hang the prepared bundles on it so that they do not touch.
  • Reverse the drying bay leaves once a day so that the wind blows well.

The place should be chosen dry and well-ventilated, protected from direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light can destroy not only chlorophyll, which will give the product a gray-brown hue but also some of the valuable compounds. Experienced procurers advise you to choose an attic, opening all the vents and dormer windows, a shed, or a shed there. In a city apartment, you can hang improvised laurel “brooms” on the balcony.

On paper or fabric

The second option is more suitable for individual leaves, but C can also dry small branches.

  • Line the horizontal surfaces with paper or a thin cloth. 
  • Arrange the leaves so that they do not touch each other.
  • Install pallets in a well-ventilated area or outdoors under a canopy.
  • Cover with one layer of thin insect cloth.

Flip branches or foliage twice a day and change paper once; this will dry faster. It is not difficult to check the readiness of the drying bay leaves: it should become dense but fragile; it is easy to break in your hands but not crumble, crumbling into dust. Their shade should resemble khaki more than emerald green.

Drying bay leaves
Drying bay leaves

In an electric dryer or dehydrator

Drying bay leaves
Drying bay leaves in a dehydrator

Drying time: 6-8 hours.

To significantly speed up drying, and at the same time to simplify your task, you can use a household or professional dehydrator. This method should take the leaves separately from the branches. Otherwise, they will take up too much space.

  • Arrange the foliage in one layer on the trellises. It is better if they do not touch.
  • The drying temperature is mainly dependent on the humidity of the ambient air. If it is low, 95-104 ° F (35-40 ° C) is enough, and if it is high, it is better to set 113-122 ° F (45-50 ° C).
  • Swap the grates once an hour.
  • To drying bay leaves faster, place the dryer in a well-ventilated room, or even better, outdoors under a canopy or on a balcony. The device evaporates a lot of moisture, which needs to go somewhere.


Using the oven

Drying time: 4-6 hours.

You can be drying bay leaves even faster at home if you use a household oven. The type of equipment does not matter, but there is a difference in the gap of the door, which should be ajar during the entire drying time. For gas models, it needs to be done 6-10 inches, and for electric ovens, 5-7 will be enough.

  • Line the baking trays, or even better, the grates, with parchment for baking.
  • Arrange the leaves in one layer so that there is a 1-2 millimeters space between them.
  • Set the temperature to 113-122 ° F (45-50 ° С) and dry for 2 hours.
  • Remove the baking sheets, let them cool completely, turn the leaves over to the other side.

Repeat drying until the product is dehydrated.

If you are afraid that the leaves will burn, you can dry them for 2 hours and then finish drying them naturally. It will hardly be possible to dry the branches in this way with high quality.

Drying method
Drying bay leaves in the oven

In the microwave

Drying time: 10-12 minutes.

Microwaving is not a very popular emergency method for drying bay leaves.

  • Cover the dish with paper.
  • Place the leaves on top of it in a single layer and cover with a napkin.
  • Set the minimum power (80-100W).
  • Scroll for 2-4 minutes, open the door, let the moisture come out.
  • Repeat heating as many times as necessary.

The product is less aromatic, and its shelf life is reduced. Therefore, experienced procurers do not use it. But if you need to dry the foliage urgently, and store it for a short time, then you can try.

Advice:

If you are accidentally drying bay leaves in an oven or dehydrator, it has become overly brittle and darkened, and you can still use it. For this, the raw materials are ground with a blender or coffee grinder to obtain a powder. Such a powder with other dried spices such as peppers, coriander, basil, parsley, cilantro, marjoram to create a flavorful seasoning. It will be better stored if you add a little acceptable salt to it and store it in a sealed container.

Storage of drying bay leaves 

The storage conditions for branches with leaves or foliage individually are almost the same. The room must be as dry as possible, with no more than 70-75% humidity; the temperature is best kept between 32 – 64 ° F (0 – 18 ° C). The lower it is, the slower the oxidative processes occur. That is, the shelf life increases. On average, from the beginning of the harvest, it is 15-18 months, and from the moment of drying, 10-12 months.

 Drying bay leaves
Store dried bay leaves in an airtight container

Store drying bay leaves intact to preserve the best taste in an airtight container for years. But it is best used within the first year or so! The leaves can be used whole in cooking and canning, or you can crush them to make spice bags.

Advice:

When it comes into contact with a dry bay leaf, the water provokes the rapid growth of mold, which is dangerous to health. If you notice even the slightest traces of it, it is better to throw out the entire product; rinsing and drying will be ineffective. In addition, in the process, it will lose most of its aromatic and beneficial qualities.

Laurel powder
Can mix bay leaf powder with any spices

It is impossible for direct sunlight falls on the drying bay leaves. Otherwise, it will quickly lose its properties. The bundles can be left hanging with their tops downward, wrapped in one layer of gauze to protect against insects. The foliage is folded into separate containers.

  • Paper bags.
  • Canvas or linen bags.
  • Glass jars with metal or nylon lids.
  • Ceramic vessels.
  • Wooden boxes.
  • Carton boxes.


It is permissible to store bay leaves in tight plastic bags with zip fasteners. The less sealed the selected vessel, the sooner the raw material is “exhausted.” Some people store dried bay leaves in metal cans, but this is not the best solution. Oxidized metal can give the spice its smell and taste, and when will spoil your dishes.

Spice storage
Storage of spices in the kitchen

Using a spicy spice

Even the ancient Greeks knew everything about the benefits of bay leaves. They passed on knowledge to the Romans, and they have already spread throughout the world. Laurel has a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect, relieves pain, eliminates the risk of kidney and gall bladder stones.

Drying bay leaves on a branch or separately is not tricky; storing them is also a simple matter. It remains to find out what this seasoning is most often used for. In cooking, it is used for a wide variety of dishes:

  • Meat and poultry.
  • Fish and seafood.
  • Broths and soups.
  • Vegetable dishes and canned salads.
  • Preservation and pickling.

They use dried laurel leaves as a home flavoring agent and sometimes even a light, safe insecticide against annoying flies and mosquitoes. The sheets are set on fire on special metal pallets or in an ordinary ashtray.

Drying bay leaves in our kitchen

The most common use of bay leaves is broths and soups, where bay leaves and other spices. However, sometimes you hear that bay leaves need to be used for a short time, literally 5-10 minutes, and then removed from ready-made dishes. In part, this statement is because the plants, which are related to the noble laurel, kalmia, and cherry laurel, have leaves that are very similar to laurel. Therefore, they are poisonous to people, and the leaves are removed from the dishes not to be poisoned by them. An actual bay leaf is never poisonous, although you cannot call it edible even after lengthy cooking.

Spices for food
Bay leaf is used as a spice in many dishes around the world

The second reason for making these recommendations is that the aroma of drying bay leaves changes over time. After about an hour of boiling, the fresh menthol aroma will be a complex, complex set of flavors. Reminiscent of the bouquet of good tea, it becomes more intense. This is no longer the smell of a eucalyptus grove after the rain, but, in all honesty, you hardly expected it from soups or sauces.

In addition to soups and sauces, bay leaves can be used for cooking vegetables, cereals, and legumes. Add a whole or ground bay leaves when roasting meat or vegetables or in marinades.

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