If you have a bay tree growing in your backyard or a friend has given you bay leaves from their tree, you may want to dry them so that you can store them safely in the pantry for up to 1 year.
Bay leaves should be harvested in mid-summer when the leaves have fully developed their flavor. This means you’ll have to dry them if you want to use them at other times of the year. There are several ways to dry bay leaves, including air drying, using a dehydrator, or drying them in a slow oven.
Here are four easy ways to dry your bay leaves.
Air Dry Your Bay Leaves
Use this method to air dry your bay leaves naturally.
- Wash the bay leaves under cold running water. Either pat the bay leaves dry with some paper towel or put them into a salad spinner to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
- Grab a flat baking sheet and line this with a few sheets of paper towel.
- Place the bay leaves onto the tray in a single layer. Make sure they’re not overlapping or touching each other.
- Put the tray into a warm room but don’t expose the leaves to direct sunlight.
- Let the leaves dry naturally for around 2 weeks. After about 1 week, turn the leaves over so that they will dry evenly.
- Once dry, the bay leaves should have changed color slightly and look a little curled and brittle. Check that all the leaves are dry all over. If any still have some green spots, let them dry for another week.
- When you’re sure that the bay leaves are completely dry, you can put them into an airtight container and store them in the pantry or the store cupboard to use later on in the year.
Use A Dehydrator To Dry Your Bay Leaves
This is an easy way to dry your bay leaves much faster.
- Rinse the bay leaves as before and remove as much moisture as possible, either by using a paper towel or a salad spinner.
- Put the bay leaves onto the trays of your dehydrator in a single layer. Make sure that they’re not touching or overlapping each other.
- Set the temperature of your dehydrator to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius).
- Turn on your dehydrator and set the timer for between 1 to 4 hours. The drying time will vary greatly depending on what type of dehydrator you have and the level of humidity in the air. If you’re not sure, check the leaves in an hour to see how well they’re drying.
- Keep checking on your bay leaves until they are fully dry. At this stage, they will start to crumble or curl, and you’ll notice the stems splitting.
- When the leaves are dry, let them cool completely and then pack them into an airtight container, like a mason jar, and store them in the pantry for up to 1 year.
How To Dry Bay Leaves In The Oven
If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can also dry your bay leaves in the oven at a very low temperature.
- As before, rinse the bay leaves under running water and dry them. You can either put them in a salad spinner or pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Line a flat baking tray with some parchment paper.
- Place the bay leaves on the tray and make sure that they are not touching or overlapping. With this method, you can actually layer your bay leaves by placing another sheet of parchment paper on top of the first layer of leaves and placing more leaves on top of this. Ultimately, no want no more than 5 layers in total.
- Set your oven temperature to the lowest possible setting and no higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or around 100 degrees Celsius).
- Place the tray with the bay leaves on the lowest rack in the oven. Leave the oven door ajar just a little to ensure that there’s adequate air circulation and that the leaves don’t cook.
- It should take around 1 to 2 hours for your bay leaves to be totally dry. It’s a good idea to check them regularly to ensure that they don’t burn.
Drying Just A Few Bay Leaves In The Microwave
Only use this method if you just have a couple of bay leaves that you want to dry quickly.
- Wash and dry the leaves and remove the stems.
- Place the leaves in a single layer onto a microwaveable plate.
- Put them into the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Turn the leaves over and microwave for another 30 seconds.
- Repeat the flipping of the leaves and the 30-second bursts until the leaves are dry and brittle.