Dehydrating Methods: How to Dry Bay Leaves

Bay leaves in a bowl
To dehydrate bay leaves, start by picking fresh leaves from a bay laurel tree. Separate the leaves from the stems, rinse them and pat them dry. Dehydrate the leaves in a food dehydrator, in the oven, or by air drying them. Store dried bay leaves in airtight containers for 1 to 2 years.

How to Dry Bay Leaves in a Dehydrator

Using a food dehydrator is the best and easiest way to dry bay leaves. Dehydrators operate at a low, consistent temperature for even drying delicate herbs.

  1. Select fresh bay leaves that are a dark green color. Make sure you harvest bay leaves from Laurus nobilis plants that are two or more years old for the best results.
  2. Wash the fresh leaves with cold water and dry them completely with paper towels. It’s recommended to use cold water because hot or warm water will dilute the flavor.
  3. Arrange the clean bay leaves in a single layer on the food dehydrator trays, making sure they don’t overlap or touch each other to ensure even drying.
  4. Set the temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and dry the leaves for 1-2 hours.
  5. Depending on your dehydrator and the level of humidity, the drying process can take 1 to 4 hours. Refer to the user manual for your dehydrator to see if there are drying times for bay leaves for a more accurate estimate.
  6. Once the bay leaves are fully dry, take them out of the dehydrator and place them on the kitchen counter to cool for one hour.
  7. Store them in labeled, airtight containers in a cool, dry place.
Dried bay leaves stored in airtight glass jar
Stored bay leaves

How to Dehydrate Bay Leaves in an Oven

You can also dry bay leaves in a conventional oven:

  1. Select dark green, fresh bay leaves and clean them with cool water.
  2. Place whole leaves on paper towels to remove moisture. Removing all the excess water from the leaves will help speed up the drying process.
  3. Place a baking sheet on a countertop and cover it with parchment paper.
  4. Lay the bay leaves on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. This will help ensure heat reaches all the leaves for faster drying.
  5. Lay a second piece of parchment over the bay leaves and add another baking sheet on top. Repeat this until you have a few layers of bay leaves separated by parchment and baking sheets.
  6. Set the oven to 200 ‌degrees Fahrenheit. Setting it to a higher temperature can end up burning the bay leaves, potentially ruining the flavor of your dried herbs.
  7. Leave the oven door open 1-2 inches to boost air circulation.
  8. Check the bay leaves and flip them every 20 minutes to ensure even drying. It takes 1 to 2 hours until the bay leaves are dry.
  9. Once dried, remove the trays from the oven and separate the trays. Allow them to cool for 1 hour.
  10. Transfer the dried bay leaves to an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry place.

How to Air Dry Bay Leaves

Air-drying bay leaves helps them retain their essential oils and requires no special equipment. Follow these steps to air-dry bay leaves:

  1. Start by covering a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels, or use a clean surface where the leaves won’t be disturbed.
  2. Arrange the fresh bay leaves in such a way that they don’t overlap or touch each other.
  3. Keep them in a well-ventilated room for a week, ensuring they aren’t exposed to direct sunlight. Ensure the room is a warm, dry place that has low humidity levels. This will help them preserve both aroma and flavor.
  4. Flip your bay leaves after a week and allow them to continue drying for another week.
  5. Collect the dried bay leaves after two weeks. If they have any green spots, let them continue drying for one more week.
Fresh bay leaves spread across a table in a single layer during the air drying process
Air-drying bay leaves

How Long Does it Take to Dry Bay Leaves?

The time it takes to dry bay leaves will depend on the method used, the humidity level, and the moisture content of the leaves. Generally, it takes about 1 to 4 hours to dry bay leaves in a food dehydrator and 1 to 2 hours in an oven. Finally, it takes an average of two weeks to air-dry bay leaves.

What are the Benefits of Drying Bay Leaves?

  • Drying bay leaves allows you to have flavorful dried leaves on hand that are ready to go in recipes.
  • Homemade dried bay leaves are wonderful in soups and stews.
  • They are usually fresher than what you can find in grocery stores.
  • They can easily be powdered in a blender and mixed into marinades.
Fresh, powdered, and dried bay leaves
Bay leaves

Can Bay Leaves Be Used Fresh From the Tree?

Yes, fresh bay leaves can be used, but many people find the flavor overwhelming. While some recipes may call for fresh bay leaves, most recipes call for dry bay leaves because dried bay leaves have a more subtle flavor. Additionally, this dried herb lasts up to two years when stored in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight.

Bowl of fresh bay laurel leaves
Fresh Bay leaves

How to Store Dried Bay Leaves

Store dried bay leaves in an airtight container. This can be a glass container or a BPA-free plastic food container. The goal is to prevent air from reaching the dried leaves and prevent moisture from accumulating in the container and spoiling the herbs.

Dried herbs should always be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Do not store dried herbs near a stove or oven, as the residual heat can cause loss of quality.

Shelf Life of Dried Bay Leaves

If you store dried bay leaves properly, they can last for 1 to 2 years. However, for the best taste and aroma, use dried bay within six months.

Patrick Anampiu

Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic it is to dehydrate and preserve food by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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