Drying Bay Leaves – How To Do It?
Learn all about how to dry bay leaves, their health benefits and the different methods used for drying bay leaves.
You must have noticed that dried bay leaves make every dish amazing but do you know how you can dry up the bay leaves at home on your own in a microwave or oven? Also, do you know what the benefits of drying bay leaves are? Well, if you don’t know about any of these questions, follow this guide to get all your answers. We have created this guide to help you know everything about bay leaves and why you should make it a part of your life if you haven’t used it yet.
So, let us begin with what bay leaves are.
What Are Bay Leaves?
Since these come from the bay laurel plant, the bay leaves grow slowly in warm weather. These come from an evergreen shrub with numerous benefits you might not know yet. It is a plant that is grown for cooking and medicinal purposes.
There are two types of bay leaves- Turkish bay leaves and California bay leaves. The Turkish bay leaves are the most commonly used ones when people need dried leaves. The California bay leaves are preferred when fresh bay leaves are required. The Turkish bay leaves have a subtle flavor in comparison to the California bay leaves. The California bay leaves have a slight mint taste. The shape of both these leaves is different, so distinguishing between them is easy.
The bay leaves are usually used when they are dry. It has slightly more scent than the fresh leaves. It has a flavor that is liked by most of us. Drying bay leaves at home can be done easily by following the simple steps mentioned in this guide.
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What Are The Benefits Of Bay Leaves?
As we are talking about the dried bay leaves, here are some of this herb’s amazing benefits:
- Good for Digestion – The bay leaves have a good effect on your gastrointestinal system. It helps your body to work well by decreasing the level of toxins in your body. It has compounds that help when your stomach is upset. It gives you relief by soothing the irritable bowel syndrome. As there are some of the proteins that cannot be digested easily, bay leaves come to your rescue and improve the process of digestion to help you digest them.
- Improves Heart-Health – Some organic compounds in bay leaves like caffeic acid and rutin help us improve our heart-health. They both are good at strengthening the heart’s capillary walls and reducing the bad cholesterol levels from the cardiovascular system.
- Good for Diabetes – According to a journal, if a person takes 1-3 grams of bay leaves every day for around 30 days, they will experience a drop in blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. The best thing about bay leaves is that they help improve insulin function, which is necessary for diabetic patients.
- It’s a Stress-Buster – As stress is a common issue in today’s lifestyle, consuming bay leaves is going to help you a lot. It contains linalool, which is responsible for dropping the level of stress hormones in your body. The leaves help in calming you down and also help you deal with depression.
- Protects from Inflammation – The bay leaves are made with anti-inflammatory properties. So, it can reduce inflammation and prevent you from problems like arthritis. The leaves are made with a unique phytonutrient called parthenolide, which plays a major role in dealing with inflammation.
- Wound Healer- It is also considered as one of the best wound healers. The bay leaves have antimicrobial properties, which helps in healing your wounds. It is the best natural remedy for minor wounds.
- A Treatment for Seizures – Some of the studies have also shown that bay leaf is an effective treatment for preventing seizures.
- Offers Good Sleep – If you cannot sleep peacefully at night, it is good for you to add the bay leaves to your diet.
So, these are some of the benefits of bay leaves that are going to surprise you. All you need to do is opt for drying bay leaves and add them to your everyday diet. You also need to ensure the quality of the leaves and the amount you are consuming to avoid side-effects due to excess consumption of bay leaves.
How To Dry Bay Leaves?
In A Microwave
The process of drying bay leaves in the microwave is really simple and time-saving. You don’t have to put much of your efforts and follow the steps given below:
- The first thing you need to do is wash the bay leaves with cold water to remove the dirt.
- Once they are clean, just pat them with tissue paper to get better results.
- Now, you are going to remove the stems from all the leaves you want to dry up.
- Then, you are going to place them on a plate that can be used in microwaves. And make sure that you are putting them in a proper way to get the desired results.
- After the placement, you will put the plate inside the microwave and turn it on for 30 seconds to let them dry.
- You are then going to change the side of the leaves and turn the microwave on for another 30 seconds. Keep on flipping the leaves for 4 to 6 times more for 30 seconds until it is completely brittle and dry for use.
- And once it is dry, you are all set to use it in your dishes and enhance their flavors.
Just make sure that you are buying the fresh bay leaves from a reliable place to get good quality leaves. Also, follow the steps carefully to avoid mistakes and get the opposite result. And, you can get the fresh leaves at an affordable price from the market.
Drying Bay Leaves In An Oven
Drying bay leaves in the oven is also a method to go for. You need to follow some simple steps –
- The first thing to do is clean the bay leaves with cold water and then remove the stems from all the leaves.
- Now you will place the leaves on the paper towel to let it absorb their moisture. Make sure that you are putting them in gaps so that they do not touch each other.
- Now, you will take an oven tray with holes and place the baking sheet on it.
- Once you have placed the sheet, you will position the bay leaves in such a way that they do not touch each other.
- You will then place another baking sheet on it and put the leaves again. You will repeat this step and prepare a maximum of 5 layers of leaves and a baking sheet.
- After you are done with the setting, you will set your oven at a minimum temperature of 200F and keep the tray on the lower rack.
- If you wish, you can leave a slight gap in the oven door to enhance the air circulation.
- It will take you around 1 to 2 hours until the leaves are brittle and dry and ready to use. Throughout the process, make sure that you check the leaves every 15 minutes to prevent the leaves from burning.
Though this process is time-consuming, it is easy, and you will get the desired results. Just be sure about the leaves’ placement and the oven’s temperature during the bay leaf drying.
How To Dry Bay Leaves Naturally?
If you want to go up the natural way, this is what you need to do:
- You are going to take a baking sheet and cover it with one layer of paper towels.
- Now you will set the bay leaves in a way that they don’t touch or overlap each other.
- Leave them in a room for one week and prevent them from coming under the direct exposure of any source of light.
- Ensure that the room is dry and hot, along with being low in humidity if you want to get the desired results.
- After one week, you will flip the leaves and leave it for another one week so that they are dried up equally.
Just follow these steps for drying leaves, and you will get the dried up bay leaves. And, if you see dark green spots on the leaves, it is better to leave them alone for one more week. Though it is a time-consuming process of drying bay leaves, it is the best and natural one.
Also, do not keep it under the sun directly because it will lose its aroma and flavor.
How To Preserve Bay Leaves?
Once you are done with the process of drying bay leaves at your home, you will need an airtight container. You can either store it in the container in the form of leaves or crush it to be stored in a powdered form.
You can also store the bay leaves in a glass jar. Make sure that you are storing it in a cool and dry place so that it does not give up its aroma and flavor after some time. Also, keeping them in the dark place will help you retain its color, else it can turn into a bunch of colorless leaves.
The best thing about the dried bay leaves is that they can last up to 1 to 2 years if stored properly. But, carelessness can lead to the development of mold. So, as you buy the dry bay leaves or follow one of the mentioned methods for drying bay leaves at home, keep these things in mind to let it last longer and retain its flavor.
How To Harvest Bay Leaves?
It is easy to harvest the bay leaves. You must know when the leaves are matured and ready to be separated from the plant. And, once the plant is ready, you can harvest it with garden snips or scissors. You can even pick them with your hands if the harvesting area is small.
At the time of harvesting bay leaves, make sure that you are going for the older leaves because they are more flavourful than the younger leaves. The older leaves have a fantastic aroma so that they can light up any dish.
Now the question is when to harvest bay leaves. Make sure that you are harvesting the bay leaves during the growing season. You can pick them throughout the growing season without waiting for a specific time if the plant is ready and old to give you the best bay leaves for your soup, meat, stew, or dinner. Once done harvesting bay leaves, you can start drying bay leaves to make them ready for cooking.
How To Freeze Bay Leaves?
The process of freezing the bay leaves is easy and simple. If you don’t know how to do it, follow the steps given below:
- You are going to take a handful of fresh bay leaves and then wash it with the cold water to get rid of the dirt.
- After you have cleaned the bay leaves, you will dry them up using a natural or any other method you are comfortable with but make sure that it is dry thoroughly. Each of these drying bay leaves methods are easy to follow and effective. And if you spot any blackening bay leaves, remove them from the bunch.
- Also, make sure that you are taking a small quantity to freeze as soon as possible.
- Now you will take the dry leaves and put them in a freezer pouch or any plastic container that can be appropriately sealed.
- You need to keep the pouch in the deepest part of the freezer, and it will last up to three months without losing its flavor.
You can do this, and whenever you need to use the bay leaves, you will take out the leaves and put them directly to the cooking utensil to let it spread its flavor.
Do not go for the leaves frozen for more than 3-4 months because they might not be as useful as those used within the three months of freezing.
Side-Effects Of Bay Leaves
Though there are no side-effects of bay leaves, you need to make sure that you are not taking in the whole leaf as it is because it can block your throat or cut the lining of the intestines because of its shape. Also, if you are allergic to bay leaves, you should avoid it.
Dried Bay Leaves Vs Fresh
If you are using the fresh bay leaves, you need to know that they have a stronger flavor than the dried leaves, and they can overpower all the other flavors if used in excessive amounts. It might require you to remove the leaves from the dish at the early cooking stage.
And if you are using the dry bay leaves, know that they have a subtle flavor because when you are drying bay leaves, it loses most of its essences and prevents it from overpowering other ingredients’ essence in a dish.
Though both these leaves have similar benefits, you can choose whatever is available in your kitchen and find more suitable for your dish. But be sure about the number of leaves you are using.
Bay leaf is one of the highly used herbs in a kitchen. You can use it fresh and dry to enhance the flavor of your dish. You can go for drying bay leaves at home using different methods mentioned in this article. You can also learn how to preserve the bay leaves by going through this guide carefully.
Disclaimer – This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information before making any dietary changes.