The bay leaf is a shrub whose leaves are used for medicinal and gastronomic purposes, which are usually dried, but it does not change the fact that fresh leaves are also typical. So regardless scenario, I will teach you how to store bay leaves.
If you want to keep bay leaves fresh, you can refrigerate them for 7 to 10 days or freeze them for 1 or 2 months. But the ideal would be to dehydrate them for 1 to 2 years at room temperature.
Below, I explain everything you need to do to preserve bay leaves correctly.
When to harvest bay leaves?
If you have a bay leaf bush at home, the best time to harvest its leaves in late summer. Unlike other herbs, bay leaves taste better when they are older, which is why most of these leaves are dehydrated immediately after harvesting.
Also, to take care of your bay leaf bush, you need to keep it pruned; that way, it will develop better. Then, when harvesting the leaves, you can pluck them from leaf to leaf or chop a bouquet with scissors, preferably in the morning or evening when there is not much sun.
Select leaves that are not chopped or hollow, and if you want to keep them fresh, ensure they are not wilting.
How to keep bay leaf fresh in the fridge
Well, after you have harvested the bay leaves and need to keep them fresh, you can refrigerate them as follows:
- Step 1: Wash the bay leaves.
Clean the leaves well with water and remove all the dirt you may have on top.
- Step 2: Dry the bay leaves.
Then strain the bay leaves and dry them with a clean towel or absorbent paper. Then put them on a rack for a few minutes so that the air finishes drying the excess moisture.
- Step 3: Put the bay leaves in an airtight container or bag.
When bay leaves are dry, place them inside an airtight bag or container.
- Step 4: Enter the storage date.
Write down the date of storage of the bay leaves on the bag or container or attach a label with that information or put some adhesive tape and write the date with a marker.
- Step 5: Store fresh bay leaves in the fridge.
Place the bag or container with fresh bay leaves in a frigid part. That way, the fresh bay leaf will keep for 7 to 10 days in the fridge. 
How to freeze fresh bay leaf
Can fresh bay leaves be frozen? If you need to keep bay leaves fresh for quite some time, you can also freeze them.
- Step 1: Wash the bay leaves.
Clean the bay leaves with water to remove all the dirt they may have on top.
- Step 2: Dry the bay leaves.
Then the bay leaves are treated with absorbent paper or a clean towel. Leave them for a while on a rack so that the air finishes drying the excess moisture.
- Step 3: Place the bay leaves in a sturdy container.
When bay leaves are dry, place them inside an airtight bag or container resistant to the freezer.
- Step 4: Label with the storage date.
Write the storage date of the bay leaves or stick a label with that information or some adhesive tape and write the date with a marker.
- Step 5: Store fresh bay leaves in the freezer.
Fresh bay leaves will remain frozen for 1 or 2 months. But they may lose a little texture, so before using them, pass them to the fridge the night before.
How to dehydrate bay leaves
When you think about preserving bay leaves long-term, there is no better option than dehydrating them. In addition, doing this will improve their flavor since fresh bay leaves are incredibly bitter.
There are four ways to dehydrate bay leaves.
- Dehydrate bay leaves in the air.
Strain the bay leaves on a single-layer baking sheet and cover them with kitchen paper. Then put the tray in a dark and dry place, away from sunlight, but very ventilated.
You should dehydrate bay leaves in about fourteen days. Turn the leaves after the first week so that they dry evenly. With this method, bay leaves will better preserve their natural essential oils.
- Dehydrate bay leaves with a food dehydrator.
Place the bay leaves in the trays of the food dehydrator into a single layer. Set the temperature to about 50°C and dehydrate for four hours.
When the bay leaves are golden and rigid, they will become adequately dehydrated. If some leaves have green spots left, let them dry longer.
- Dehydrate the bay leaves with an oven.
Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature, preferably between 90°C – 95°C. Put the bay leaves in a single layer on a tray with parchment paper.
Put in the oven and turn the bay leaves every twenty minutes to dry uniformly. Bay leaves should dry in one or two hours.
- Dehydrate the bay leaves with a microwave.
Place some bay leaves on a sturdy plate and microwave and put it on high heat for a thirty-second batch. Turn the leaves over and add another thirty seconds.
Follow the thirty-second intervals until they dry completely; this can take two to three minutes.
How to preserve dehydrated bay leaves?
Dried bay leaves should remain in a cool, dark, dry place inside an airtight bag or container, whether you have bought them or dehydrated them yourself at home.
If you have dehydrated bay leaves with a microwave, food dehydrator, or oven, wait for the leaves to cool before storing them.
Remember to write the date of storage or purchase and so the dehydrated bay leaves may be between 1 or 2 years at room temperature. 
You can also transfer the dry bay leaves to a freezer-resistant bag or airtight container and freeze them for 2 to 5 years.
How do you know if the bay leaves got bad?
If you see that bay leaves have mold, that is, some lint or black or white spots, it is because they were not stored properly, and the humidity led to the development of bacteria.
Another factor that tells you if the bay leaves get bad is their smell. If they do not have their characteristic aroma, either because they do not smell or smell bad, their shelf life ends.
Now, if the bay leaves dropped something while they were stored or something leaked, they can no longer be used because they will be contaminated and will have developed some fungus or bacteria.
Why do bay leaves spoil?
If bay leaves are not well stored and exposed to external agents, such as heat and moisture, it will accelerate their natural decomposition process.
Being a natural product, they are perishable, so you can only delay the decomposition process for a specific time. The most effective of these is dehydration.
However, dehydration does not make bay leaves immune to external agents, so if not stored well, they can spoil quickly and fill with bacteria and fungi as if fresh.
How long does the bay leaf last?
|Fresh bay leaves in the fridge||7 – 10 days|
|Fresh bay leaves in the freezer||1 – 2 months|
|Dehydrated bay leaves at room temperature||1 – 2 years|
|Dehydrated bay leaves in the freezer||2 – 5 years|
What is the best way to store bay leaves?
There is no better way to keep bay leaves than by dehydrating them and storing them at room temperature, in a dark place free of moisture, away from hot sources.
However, if you need to keep bay leaves fresh, the best way to preserve them is to refrigerate them. You can also freeze them, but they will become soft when thawed.
If you want to learn how to preserve another herb or seasoning, on this website, you can find many topics related to the preservation of products and foods, so feel free to explore everything you want.