How to Dry Bay Leaves

“Perfume is like cocktails without the hangover, like chocolate without the calories, like an affair without tears, like a vacation from which you never have to come back.”

– Marian Bendeth

I received these bay leaves from my friends tree in Valencia during that paella making session we had back at the beginning of November. Yeah, you’ve caught me here as to my mild case of blogging procrastination, as indeed these leaves were photographed back in November.

Before going on with the bay leaves, I have a hairy story. I have a new colleague at work. She takes really good care of her hair – unlike me here typing away. Anyway the other day we were discussing how I have a food blog and that I love to cook. She declared that she doesn’t like cooking because she doesn’t like the smell of the cooking absorbing into her hair. If she must cook, then she will cook, wash her hair, and then eat.

At first I thought that was a bit drastic, because the truth is that I don’t give a rats tale as to if my hair is absorbing the smell of my stew, pasta or curry. Or sardines. Ok, come to think of it, maybe I should worry if it smells of sardines. Still, I don’t worry. On the other hand I do love perfumes, but I guess that’s another story…

Then I recalled that my mum doesn’t like the smell of cooking absorbing into her hair either. Right, mum? I mean, she cooks a lot, and fantastically, and likes it too, but just doesn’t particularly like that fragrant side effect.

Back to my case, apparently sometimes my hair smells of spices. Which ones? I’m not quite sure, just a mix of spices. I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m not naturally spicy as such, maybe it’s my hair absorbing the smell of spices in my cooking.

So perhaps the world is divided into people that don’t like the smell of their cooking absorbing in their hair, and people that don’t mind it at all. Which side are you on?

How to dry laurel leaves

Laurel leaves / Bay leaves

I had always called them laurel leaves but noticed that what I assumed to be the same leaf is sometimes also call bay leaf. Just in case I was wrong I googled it of course and found that indeed it’s the same plant: Laurus nobilis. In summary it seems that if you’re from one part of the world or another you might tend to say bay or laurel.

How to dry bay leaves

Laurel Bay leaves how to dry and store

The smell of these leaves are a strong aromatic perfume that smells of, well, laurel leaves. I had to keep them for my cooking, so again I googled the method of drying laurel leaves and found that there was not one single method but so many that you can practically invent your particular laurel leaf drying method yourself. Thus I adapted my laurel leaf drying method to suit the limitations of my climate, equipment and living space.

How to Dry Laurel Leaves

Step 1: Pick out the biggest leaves in the best condition, as they will be the ones that give the best fragrance and flavour. Choose them one by one, and remove each of them from the main stem.

Step 2: Place them on a clean dry tray. Let them dehydrate in a dry place, away from direct sunlight. After 10 – 15 days, turn each leaf over so it’s other side faces up. Let them dehydrate for another 10-15 days.

Step 3: Store them in a clean dry jar.

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  1. apuginthekitchen 2016-02-01 at 23:53

    Wow, your friend doesn’t cook because it makes her hair smell. That never even entered into my mind. Now I will think about it every time I cook. You may laugh but I have never had a fresh bay leaf, only dried but this is a very good thing to know. Thank you.

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 00:00

      Obviously my bay leaves are now dried out because thats what I did to them, but they are so much more thicker and fragrant than the ones I always buy, so try it if you can get your hands on some somehow… ok promise that you can let that hair smell thought enter your mind but not deter you from cooking lol! xx

      1. apuginthekitchen 2016-02-02 at 00:47

        Well if in making something particularly smelly or stinky I will wash my hair. It bothers me more that my kitchen smells not my hair. LOL!!

        1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:24

          Oh if it’s the smell of cake in the house, it doesnt bother me 😛

  2. Saskia (1=2) 2016-02-02 at 00:31

    Love the quote at the beginning!
    Great post Sofia – I learned SO many things. Had no idea laurel and bay leaves were the same thing! They’re bay leaves over here. I just headed to Google as we drove through Laurel Canyon in LA last year – sure enough, the area is named after the California bay laurel, which may be shortened to California bay or California laurel. Confusing, yet so interesting!
    Also have never given a thought to the smells that may be permeating my hair!!! Cooked a wicked pot of chilli con carne last night – my unwashed hair must reek of garlic and chilli today 🙂
    Can totally relate to blogging procrastination. I also take photos and sit on them for ages nowadays (to the point where my recipes often feature completely out-of-season veggies)…

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:14

      I thought they were laurel in Australia, I think I must have been in Spain too long, lol, as they are called Laurel here. Did you see the trees when you were there last year?
      I never give a thought as to if my hair reeks of garlic and chilli, which I think it often does lol, so now thats 2 of us 🙂
      Recipes that feature out of season veggies, haha I love it! Yeah, I do that too…

      1. Saskia (1=2) 2016-02-03 at 01:52

        I didn’t see the laurel trees in Cali – saw Australian gum trees though, lots of them!

        1. Sofia 2016-02-03 at 08:57

          I always get excited when I see what I think are typically Australian trees overseas, like bottle brushes and gum trees 🙂

  3. pianolearner 2016-02-02 at 00:49

    In the UK we tend to call it bay leaf. We have one growing in our back garden and has survived our winter. But needs to be sheltered.
    There is another hedging plant that we more commonly call Laurel; Common laurel, Cherry Laurel or English Laurel – Prunus laurocerasus
    You wouldn’t want to eat this as it is rich in cyanide.

    I tend to use our Bay from fresh. just picking the one leaf off as and when I need it.

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:15

      So you have the edible one then? Lucky you!

  4. Dorcas 2016-02-02 at 02:39

    Oh my goodness. I am too much of a glutton and love cooking too much to care how I smell because of it! In fact, I have a couple of jars of 2-day-old kimchi sitting on the counter right now that are stinking up the whole downstairs of our house. It kind of smells like garbage! But the stuff is delicious. I see cooking and eating as ways to share experiences and create memories with people, so that’s what helps me deal with any “odors!” Thanks for the tutorial! Beautiful laurel leaves.

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:16

      I hope you get to dry your own laurel leaves!
      High five to kimchi smelling hair, I haven’t made kimchi yet but you can bet if I ever do I won’t wash my hair because of it 😉

  5. Beauty Reflections (@BeautyReflectTS) 2016-02-02 at 02:46

    I LOVE LOVE this post! I never thought about it! But you can tell that friend and your mom that the real reason their hair is absorbing the smells is probably their hair styling products! Smells especially love to stick to hairspray. I don’t use hairspray a lot, so I don’t notice my hair smelling of cooking smells! BUT…I probably stink of garlic ALL THE TIME because I’m one of those cooks who sees 2 cloves in a recipe and adds SIX. SMELL ME BABY!

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:18

      I know my friend uses lots of products but my mum was blessed with naturally perfect straight and strong Asian hair that falls beautifully into place no matter what and she doesn’t need any styling product. (I did not inherit those genes unfortunately, I’m wild hair). Hahahaha, my hair probbaly stinks of garlic all the time too, thats both of us then 😀

  6. Kiss & Make-up 2016-02-02 at 09:58

    For me it all depends on what the smell is. If it’s the greasy heavy smell of something deep-fried I’ll obviously want to wash that out asap. But if it’s something like herbs or spices or a dessert-y smell? Nah, then I won’t mind.

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:19

      You’re right, I have to admit I don’t like grease smelling but I don’t notice it on me, oh dear… If it smells like herbs and spices, hey lots of perfumes try to do that too, right?

  7. Mabel Kwong 2016-02-02 at 09:58

    Yes. I do believe that hair absorbs food smells, just as it absorbs smell of cigarette smoke. Usually my cooking is chucking some food into a pot of boiling water and walking away and letting it cook until boil. So my hair stinking up of food doesn’t happen too often to me.

    When I used to eat in Malaysia and Singapore, I’d frequent hawker styles. Now, as you know, these places are outdoors and can get quite stuffy. Countless times I’d walk away from eating there stinking of the place – even my clothes would reek of the smell 😀

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:21

      You have a point there Mabel, I hate the smell of cigarettes on my hair and clothes. Luckily smoking in public places here has been banned since the last few years so I don’t have to worry about that now!
      Oh yeah, I’m just remembering those places in Malaysia and Singapore. You can smell of fried rice and pork there for example 🙂

      1. Mabel Kwong 2016-02-03 at 12:18

        But I’m sure you can also remember how delicious the food is in Malaysia and Singapore, breakfast, lunch and dinner all outdoors. It also meant more clothes washing when I was living there. What a waste of water but what can you do 😀

  8. Lily @ChloeAsh 2016-02-02 at 14:29

    My mom always complains about her hair smelling after she cooks. That’s weird, because I never had smell trapped in my hair before. That, or I never noticed and no one told me. As for dried bay leaves, we just buy it from the supermarket for really cheap. Reason is, well, let’s be honest. I’m friggin lazy. HAHAHAH! Drying it for about 2 weeks?? I have a strong feeling I’d misplace it before it’s fully dry!

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:23

      I think I’m like you, I don’t notice it in my hair. And my mum must notice it like your mum 😀
      I dried these bay leaves because I was given them, if not I wouldn’t have the faintest clue as to where to buy them not dried 😉 Misplacing them, you make me laugh! xx

  9. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2016-02-02 at 19:21

    What an interesting thought! Actually, a couple of interesting thoughts here. The smell of my cooking in my hair, wow, I had NEVER thought of it. I always use the exhaust fan over my stove to rid my KITCHEN of cooking smells, but my hair? Who knew? I do know that my son sometimes smells my hair and says it smells “earthy”—I thought maybe that it was because I needed to wash it…but maybe that means it has the smell of my cooking!!! LOL!
    And I have never seen a fresh bay leaf, either. In Spanish they are called laurel…

    1. Sofia 2016-02-02 at 19:24

      Does your cooking smell earthy? hmmm…. Guillermina I’ve never seen a fresh bay leaf in a store or supermarket either. These were from my friend’s tree 😀 xx

  10. Michelle 2016-02-03 at 03:06

    I don’t give a rat’s tail what my hair smells like. 🙂 But I am, as usual, desperately trying to keep my bay tree alive through our cold and gray winter. This is Winter No. 5 or so for it under a light in the kitchen. It’s constantly getting covered in spider webs but otherwise is hanging on and undoubtedly, like me, waiting anxiously for the day that it can go back outside in the herb garden.

    1. Sofia 2016-02-03 at 08:59

      Ah, high five! You’re bay tree gets covered in spiders webs? I feel sorry for the tree, must give it the creeps 😉 I’m sure you’ll look after it well and it will go back out!

  11. Dalo 2013 2016-02-06 at 18:34

    The macro shots are fantastic Sofia ~ and the quote a perfect one to begin the post…wishing you a great weekend!

    1. Sofia 2016-02-08 at 13:12

      Oh thanks! The thing is that I haven’t got around to getting a proper macro lens yet, so I don’t know if this is real macro?!? Have a great week

  12. Patty Nguyen 2016-02-15 at 05:17

    What a funny story. I cook, but also hate when my hair absorbs strong cooking smells. You know what’s funny? If I step into a coffee shop, even if for only a few minutes, my hair reeks of coffee after I leave. I wonder what it is about the coffee scent that seeps into my hair follicles so quickly??

  13. Mitzie Mee 2016-02-22 at 09:31

    How funny! My mom just found fresh leaves on sale here in Dubai a couple of days ago and wonder how she could dry them. She’ll not be using them for cooking, but for flower decorations:)


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