Drying herbs is a great way to improve their taste. Dried bay leaves have a taste 3-4 times stronger than fresh leaves! You can use bay leaves to season meats, soups, sauces, and other delicious dishes. The best way to preserve its fragrant and aromatic essential oil is to dry the bay leaves by air drying them naturally. However, you can also dry them in a dehydrator, oven, or microwave.
Method 1 of 4: Drying Leaves Naturally
Step 1. Spread 1 or 2 paper towels on a baking sheet
Use a pan that can hold all the leaves so they don't touch each other. The paper towels should cover the entire pan, but you'll only need no more than one layer of paper towels.
Step 2. Spread the bay leaf on a paper towel
Don't stack them on top of other leaves so that each leaf has room to dry evenly. If there are a lot of leaves, you'll need to use another pan.
Do not mix it with other leaves because each leaf has a different drying time
Step 3. Place the baking sheet in a dry and warm place with good ventilation
The ideal place is the kitchen table. Make sure the leaves are not exposed to direct sunlight as this can wilt and turn brown.
It's fine if the leaves are exposed to indirect sunlight, but this is less than ideal
Step 4. Check the bay leaf 1 week later and turn it over
By turning it over, each side of the leaf will dry evenly in the same amount of time. If any leaves dry faster than others, mark them and check them 3-4 days later.
Step 5. Allow the leaves to dry in another 1 week
See if any moisture remains on the leaves. If the bay leaf is still dark green or mottled, you may need to let it sit for another 3-4 days or a whole week for the leaves to dry completely.
If any of the leaves have dried, take them out and store them in an airtight container
Step 6. Remove the stems and store the bay leaves in an airtight container
Remove the stems and store the bay leaves in a ziploc plastic bag (sealed plastic bag) or an airtight container. You can also grind them if you don't want to use all of the leaves in one recipe. Store bay leaves in a dark, cool place with a temperature between 18 °C and 24 °C.
- If you want to grind or grind it, tear the bay leaf with your fingers and crush it with the back of a spoon until it has a coarse, gritty texture. Alternatively, you can grind bay leaves into a powder using a pestle and mortar.
- Leaves that are left whole can retain their aroma and taste for a longer time than mashed leaves.
- Dried bay leaves can last up to 1 year if stored properly.
Method 2 of 4: Using a Dehydrator
Step 1. Heat the dehydrator to a temperature of 35 °C to 46 °C
Set the dehydrator to 35 °C to 46 °C and let it heat up for about 30 minutes. If you live in an area with high humidity, set the appliance to 51 °C.
Read the dehydrator's manual to see if it provides the temperature needed to dry bay leaves
Step 2. Wash the bay leaf gently using cold running water
Turn on the tap with a slow flow and hold the bay leaf. Gently clean the dirt on the leaves. Place the leaves in the basket and shake to remove any remaining water. After that, dry the bay leaf by patting it with a tissue.
- You can also place the bay leaf in a colander and stir it in with your fingers.
- Let the leaves dry completely for about 1-2 hours before putting them in the dehydrator.
Step 3. Arrange the bay leaves in the dehydrator tray in a single layer
Make sure the leaves are not touching or overlapping so that they dry evenly. If there are many shelves in the dehydrator, you can use another dehydrator tray if necessary.
If the dehydrator has multiple shelves stacked, the top shelf is the coldest and requires a longer drying time. To speed up drying time, move the tray to the bottom shelf
Step 4. Let the bay leaf dry for 1-4 hours, checking it every hour
The drying process of bay leaves can take 1-4 hours depending on the dehydrator and the humidity level. If the bay leaf is not brittle and crispy after 1 hour, continue the process for another 30-60 minutes before checking again.
Read the manual that came with the dehydrator to see if it gives any advice on the drying time to follow
Step 5. Remove the dried leaves from the dehydrator and let them cool
Bay leaves are completely dry if they begin to shrivel or crumble, and the stem splits. Place the tray of bay leaves on the counter for an hour to cool.
Do not place dry leaves in direct sunlight while they are cooling
Step 6. Remove the stems and store the dried bay leaves in an airtight container or bag
Carefully remove the bay leaf stalk. The taste of bay leaves will last if you store them whole. However, you can also grind them if you don't want to use the whole leaf in your desired recipe.
- Store bay leaves in a dark, cool place with a temperature between 18 °C and 24 °C.
- Throw the stalks into the garden or make compost.
Method 3 of 4: Drying Bay Leaves in the Oven
Step 1. Set the oven to the lowest heat setting
If your oven can be set at 32 °C to 43 °C, you have the ideal oven! If you can't, set the oven to the lowest possible temperature by leaving the door slightly ajar throughout the process. Alternatively, if the oven can be set to a warm setting or you have a separate heater, use this option.
- Bay leaves will lose their taste if they are dried above 43 °C. So you should leave the door slightly ajar if the appliance is too hot.
- If you leave the door slightly ajar, make sure there are no children or pets in the area.
Step 2. Place the bay leaf on the baking sheet
Use a clean pan that is wide enough to hold all the leaves. Position it so that each leaf is at least half an inch apart for even drying.
Make sure the pan does not contain oil or non-stick spray, as this can hinder the drying process
Step 3. Place the pan on the lowest oven rack
The best place for bay leaves to brown and crunch is the shelf closest to the heating element. In this case, you want nice, crunchy bay leaves. If your oven has a hot or cold side, you will need to rotate the tray during the drying process.
Remove any other pans in the oven that are not in use as they can affect air circulation and heat
Step 4. Leave the bay leaf in the oven for 30 minutes before you flip the leaf
Turn each bay leaf so that it can dry evenly. Wear oven mitts to remove the pan from the oven or to slide it outward so you don't have to put your hands in the oven. Grasp the stems and carefully turn the bay leaf over.
If you leave the oven door slightly ajar, rotate the tray so that the bay leaf on the front will move to the back
Step 5. Wait about 45 minutes before you check the dryness of the leaves
While wearing oven mitts, remove the tray from the oven and feel each leaf with your fingers. If the leaves can still bend without breaking, leave them in the oven for another 15-30 minutes before checking again.
If the leaves feel brittle and break to the touch, remove the bay leaf and let it cool on the counter
Step 6. Turn off the oven once the leaves are dry and crispy
In general, it will take you about 1 hour to dry the bay leaf in the oven, but it can take longer if you live in a humid area. When they are dry, turn off the oven and let the leaves cool in the tray for 1 hour.
If the bay leaf has changed color and feels brittle, turn off the oven and use oven mitts to transfer the tray to the counter to let the leaves dry without getting hot
Step 7. Remove the stems and store the bay leaf in a sealed container or plastic ziploc bag
Take the leaf stalks and throw them in the garden or make compost. Transfer the leaves to an airtight container or plastic ziploc bag. The taste and aroma of dried bay leaves can last for years if stored properly!
- You can use dried bay leaves for up to 3 years, but the aroma and taste will diminish over time.
- You can mash the leaves right away, but the flavor will go away faster.
- If you want to use it directly for cooking, just use it. Remember, dry bay leaves in small quantities can already taste the aroma!
Method 4 of 4: Using the Microwave
Step 1. Cover the microwave plate with paper towels
Do not use recycled paper towels because they contain small metal chips that can burn in the microwave. You can also use a clean towel.
If using towels, do not use towels that have metal labels as they can catch fire in the microwave
Step 2. Place the leaves on a paper towel, then cover the leaves with another paper towel
Place bay leaves on paper towels, and keep each leaf from touching. Next, cover the leaves with another paper towel.
If you are using a wide kitchen cloth, fold it in half and use the fold as a cover. So you don't need to use another cloth to cover it
Step 3. Dry the bay leaf in the microwave on high power for 35-45 seconds
Bay leaves contain a lot of oil so they will take a little time to dry, but not too long so they don't burn. For a standard microwave (1,000 watts), we recommend setting it to 35 seconds. Depending on the microwave you're using, you can reduce the time to 30 seconds or increase it to 50 seconds.
Do not dry the bay leaf in the microwave for more than 70 or 80 seconds as it may burn
Step 4. Remove the stems and store the bay leaves in an airtight container
Bay leaves are completely dry if they are brittle and crunchy. If the leaves still feel soft or don't break when bent, put them back in the microwave for 10-20 seconds before checking again.
- If the bay leaf is brown and you smell a charred odor, throw it away and try drying the new leaves.
- Whole bay leaves can retain their flavor for a longer time than crushed bay leaves.
- Remember, dried herbs are much more potent than fresh ones. If you want to use bay leaves for a recipe, adjust the amount if the recipe calls for fresh leaves, but you're using dried leaves.
- If you just want to dry a few bay leaves, use the microwave.