When buying bay leaves, there are two basic options you have to choose from in most markets: fresh or dried. They are available in most grocery stores and smaller markets. You can also purchase bay leaves online.
The following information can help you when shopping for bay leaves so you can choose the best option based on how you plan to use them.
Bay leaves are versatile and when dried can be kept for a long time. There are a few tricks to buying bay leaves that may help those who are unfamiliar with them. They usually come in either dried or fresh.
Both can be used interchangeably but the fresh ones don’t last nearly as long as the dried version. There can also be a significant price difference between the two based on where you buy them and whether they’re dried or fresh.
Where to find bay leaves
If you’re shopping in a traditional supermarket, there are two places where you most commonly find bay leaves. The fresh ones can usually be found in the produce section. They frequently come in small plastic clamshell-type cases and are usually found with the other herbs.
Some markets may sell them loose so you can choose the amount you want and pay for them by weight or quantity.
The other common place to find bay leaves is the spice and seasonings aisle. This is where you will most likely find dried bay leaves. They come whole, crushed, or ground. They are usually available in several different jar types.
Also Read: Most Common Aisles of a Grocery Store
Cost of bay leaves
The cost of bay leaves depends on the package size along with a few other factors. Dried bay leaves are usually cheaper per package.
Dried bay leaves can cost around 10 cents per leaf while fresh ones may be double or more per leaf. When purchasing bay leaves, be sure to compare the different packages available based on their size and price to get the best price per leaf.
Fresh or dried
There are benefits to both fresh and dried bay leaves. Fresh leaves tend to have more flavor and they are easier to remove from your soups and other dishes before you eat them. But dried bay leaves are better preserved and will last longer.
If you purchase ground or crushed bay leaves, keep in mind that many people submerge these using a tea or muslin bag so they are easy to remove. Bay leaves are mostly used for flavor and eating them can cause digestive issues for some.
Related: 4 Types of Peppercorn You Can Find at the Grocery Store
Tips when buying fresh
Buying dried bay leaves is a straightforward process. The only thing you need to consider is the expiration date. But when you’re shopping for fresh bay leaves, there are some things to look for to help you choose the best ones.
Fresh bay leaves should look newly picked without any wilting. If it’s possible, you can smell the bay leaves to determine if they are fresh. Newly picked leaves have a very strong smell that’s also a good indicator of how much flavor they will add when you cook them.
Fresh bay leaves don’t necessarily go bad, although they can mold over time. But they do lose flavor as they age.
Also Read: 5 Savory Herbs with Healing Powers
Where do bay leaves come from?
Bay leaves come from the laurel tree. They are fragrant and have many uses. The floral and herbal scent makes them great for use in stews, soups, and other dishes. They are harvested from the evergreen plant during peak-season to provide you with the most flavor. The tree they come from can grow in many areas but it’s most commonly found in warm climates.
Other places to purchase bay leaves
Some supermarkets and local grocery stores may not have bay leaves year-round. Bay leaves can be harvested all throughout the year in many areas but they have the most flavor when harvested during hot weather which is why they are most easily found in late summer or early fall.
Some farmer’s markets may sell fresh bay leaves. You can also check your local ethnic markets as they tend to have a better selection of fresh herbs when compared to traditional grocery stores.
If you want to buy dried bay leaves, you can purchase them online from many retailers. This is a good option for those who prefer to buy in bulk as you can often get a better price for larger quantities of dried herbs at online retailers. There are some specialty online sites that offer good deals on bulk herbs and spices.
Buying Bay Leaves – Bottom Line
When buying bay leaves, you can choose dried or fresh. Fresh bay leaves can provide your soups, stews, and sauces with the most flavor, but they can’t be stored as long as dried bay leaves.
You can find bay leaves at most grocery stores. But they are also available at ethnic markets and can sometimes be fresher there than in a traditional supermarket. When stored properly, bay leaves can last for a year or more.
Bay leaves should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help to preserve their flavor and aroma.