Laurus nobilis "Saratoga," commonly known as sweet bay is a medium-sized tree with aromatic leaves that are popular for use in cooking and crafts. Dried bay leaves flavor stews, casseroles, soups, pickles and marinades. Fresh leaves can be used, but the dried leaves lend a more concentrated flavor. The dried leaves are a natural insect repellent and make a fragrant potpourri.
Laurus nobilis "Saratoga" leaves and berries can be air dried or dried in a food dehydrator. Using a dehydrator is faster and more reliable because temperature, humidity and air circulation are controlled. Air drying is cheaper and easier in dry weather.
Preserve Bay Leaves in a Dehydrator
Rinse the Laurus nobilis "Saratoga" leaves and berries in cold water and shake off excess moisture. Place the leaves and berries in a single layer on the food dehydrator trays. Stack the trays and assemble the dehydrator according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Set the thermostat on the dehydrator to 95 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. In high humidity, use temperatures between 110 and 125 degrees. Dry the sweet bay leaves for three to four hours or until they are completely dry. Berries will take longer.
Store the cooled, dried leaves and berries in an airtight container.
Air Dry Bay Leaves
Wash the branches of Laurus nobilis "Saratoga" leaves in cold water and shake dry. Tie the branches into small bundles with cotton twine.
Choose a a well-ventilated, dry area out of direct sunlight for drying the sweet bay leaves. Avoid damp areas and garages that may have fumes. Keep the temperature between 70 and 80 degrees. Hang the bundles upside down with room between the bundles to allow air circulation.
Allow two to four weeks for the leaves to dry. Place the leaves in an airtight container when they are thoroughly dry. Use within one year for best flavor.
About this Author
Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.