How long do dried bay leaves last?
In this article, we will answer the question “How long do dried bay leaves last?”, and how to use bay leaves?
How long do dried bay leaves last?
When dried bay leaves are stored correctly, they can maintain their quality for a period of 1 to 3 years. To ensure their longevity, it is important to store them in an airtight jar or container placed in a cool, dry, and dark area of the pantry.
Direct sunlight and heat should be avoided as they can negatively impact the flavor and aroma of the dried bay leaves. By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the full potential of your dried bay leaves for an extended period.(1)
Bay leaves can be harvested from a fully mature plant at any time of the year. However, it’s important to note that fresh bay leaves have a bitter and pungent taste, so they need to be dried before use.
Once a leaf is picked, it should be left to dry for approximately 48-72 hours.
Freshly dried bay leaves exhibit a better and deeper flavor profile. It is advisable to avoid harvesting the leaves when the plant is wet to ensure optimal drying conditions.
Various methods can be employed to dry bay leaves. Traditionally, they are dried in the open air for approximately 10-12 days. (2)
How to store bay leaves?
In the fridge
First, submerge the bay leaves in a bowl of cold water. Swirl the leaves in the water to remove the surface dust and dirt.
Empty the bowl into a colander and spread the leaves onto a paper towel. Pat dry the upper surface of these delicate leaves using some more paper towels.
Transfer the completely dried into a resealable bag or an air-tight container. Proceed to refrigeration. If the leaves are not dried properly, the residual moisture will trigger rot. Mold will grow and the leaves will become slimy. (1, 2)
In the spice drawer
Dried bay leaves can be kept in the spice drawer like other dried herbs. The only condition is to keep the dried leaves away from moisture, light, and oxygen.
This means you should keep the dried leaves in an air-tight jar If you plan to store them in the spice drawer or at room temperature.
The light or heat damages the chlorophyll of bay leaves, turning them brown whilst weakening their potency. Bay leaves often come in an air-tight glass jar packaging.
If the packaging is not air-tight, as in the case of paper packaging, transfer the bay leaves into a freezer bag or jar. (1, 2)
In the freezer
The leaves will lose their potency at a faster pace if stored at room temperature/spice drawer. Your best bet is to free the leaves to preserve the flavor.
Ice cube tray: In this method of freezing, you fill the ice cube tray with leaves and drizzle the leaves with some oil.
Pre-freeze the leaves to solidify them. Then transfer the frozen leaves onto a ziplock bag, put a label on it and chuck it into the freezer.
Freezer bag: Fill a freezer bag with bay leaves and toss them with 2 tbsp of oil. Remove the excess oil and air from the bag. Label the bag and chuck it into the freezer. (1)
What happens if you consume expired bay leaves?
Consuming expired bay leaves typically does not result in illness, provided that they were stored correctly and show no signs of mold growth. Bay leaves do not undergo conventional spoilage, but their aroma, color, flavor, and overall quality gradually diminish over time.
Although eating old bay leaves won’t cause harm, they won’t provide the same vibrant taste and aroma found in fresh ones. It is advisable to discard bay leaves that have expired and lost a significant amount of their aroma and flavor.
However, if you decide to use them, their consumption should not pose any health risks. (1-3)
How to tell If the bay leaves have gone bad?
There are several indicators of deteriorating bay leaf quality, such as browning, yellowing, mold growth, and a wilted appearance. To maintain their natural color and preserve essential oil content, bay leaves are often dried.
Another sign that bay leaves are past their prime is the absence or a weak aroma. Furthermore, the flavor of bay leaves may diminish as they age. (3)
In this article, we answered the question “How long do dried bay leaves last?”, and how to use 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.