How long are bay leaves good for?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long are bay leaves good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of bay leaves. Moreover, we are going to discuss the different ways to spot bad bay leaves.
So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.
How long are bay leaves good for?
Dried bay leaves last for about 1 year when stored properly in an air-tight jar or container in a cool, dry, and dark corner of the pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.(1)
Bay leaf can be harvested at any time of the year from a fully mature plant. Fresh bay leaves have a bitter and pungent taste; therefore before use, leaves should be dried. After picking the leaf, it should be left for 48–72 hours for drying.
Better and deeper flavor is observed in freshly dried leaves. Harvesting should be avoided when the plant is wet. (2)
When it comes to the fresh bay leaves, they last for about 2 weeks when stored properly in an air-tight container or resealable plastic zipper bag in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
But it is recommended to use fresh bay leaves within 2-3 days to enjoy their optimum quality and taste.
For drying bay leaves, different drying methods are available. Traditionally, it is dried in the open air for 10–12 days. (2)
How to store bay leaves?
Moisture is an enemy of the freshness and flavor of the dried bay leaves therefore bay leaves should be kept in air-tight containers or air-tight jars to reduce their exposure to air.
It is best practice to store dried bay leaves at room temperature as the fluctuations in temperature can affect the rich flavors of bay leaves negatively.
Moreover, do not store them near a stove or air conditioner but if you want to further prolong their shelf life you can properly store them in the freezer in air-tight resealable bags.
Dried bay leaves should be kept in a cool, dry place, do not store your bay leaves in a jar or container in direct sunlight which can otherwise degrade the quality of bay leaves. In the case of fresh bay leaves, it is recommended to store them in a resealable plastic zipper bag in the fridge. (1, 2)
Yes, leaves can be stored frozen for the sake of use for extended time beyond its fresh shelf life.
Bay is consumed in a variety of ways and for various purposes. In addition to its fresh leaves, other common processed forms of bay include whole dry leaves, frozen, powdered leaves, and extracted essential oils. (2)
What are the signs of bay leaf spoilage?
Browning, yellowing, mold growth and labor, are clear signs of loss of quality of bay leaves. To maintain natural color and avoid loss of essential oil content they are generally dried.
The absence of the characteristic aroma (or weak aroma) of the bay leaves is another indication that the particular spice is past its prime time as well as weak flavor. (3)
Can you get sick from eating expired bay leaves?
When it comes to bay leaves, you do not get sick from eating expired bay leaves as long as they were stored appropriately and there is no moldy growth on them.
Bay leaves do not go bad in a conventional way and you won’t get sick after eating old bay leaves but they won’t have their characteristic aroma, color, flavor, and overall quality.
Thus bay leaves tend to lose their flavor and aroma over time and you will not get the same great flavor and aroma from old bay leaves like the one you get from the fresh ones.
If the bay leaves have expired and have significantly lost their aroma and flavor, it is better to toss them out but if you still insist on using them, then surely their consumption won’t cause any health problems. (1-3).
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long are bay leaves good for” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of bay leaves. Moreover, we discussed the different ways to spot bad bay leaves.
- Green, Aliza Field Guide to Herbs & Spices. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. ISBN 978-1-59474-082-4. 2006.
- Batool S, Khera RA, Hanif MA, Ayub MA. Bay Leaf. Medicinal Plants of South Asia. 2020:63–74.
- Aktaş, M., Şevik, S., Özdemir, M. B., & Gönen, E. Performance analysis and modeling of a closed-loop heat pump dryer for bay leaves using artificial neural network. Applied Thermal Engineering, 87, 714–723. 2015.