Do Bay Leaves Go Bad?

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For centuries, folks have loved the **wonderfully aromatic** bay leaf, a prized addition to favorite recipes like soups and stews.

But what many people don’t realize is that bay leaves also have a shelf life, just like everything else.

Bay leaves go bad over time, and there’s no real way to stop this from happening.

If you keep them in an airtight container, however, it’s possible to prolong their lifespan a little longer than usual.

Here’s how to tell if a bay leaf is bad, how to identify the signs, and what you can do with the ones that are starting to go sour.

Do Bay Leaves Go Bad

How can you tell if a bay leaf is bad?

A bay leaf that’s fresh should be dark green in color, firm and pliable, and free of any blemishes or defects.

It should look very similar to the picture below, and you shouldn’t see any discoloration at all.

Once a bay leaf starts to go bad, it turns yellowish brown and brittle.

There may also be some spots on the leaf where the plant oils have separated from the leaves.

The smell may also begin to change, turning more pungent and bitter.

What are the signs that a bay leaf is going bad?

Here are some of the most common signs that a bay leaf is beginning to go bad.

  • It loses its shape
  • Its edges become curled
  • It becomes dry and brittle
  • It begins to turn yellowish brown and brittle
  • Some areas of the leaf become speckled with small black dots

Is it safe to use a bay leaf if it’s starting to go bad?


Just make sure to discard those bay leaves that have started to show signs of decomposition.

You can still use them, however, by cutting off the ends and chopping them up into smaller pieces before adding them to your recipe.

How long do bay leaves last?

Most bay leaves will last for about a year if stored properly.

This means that if you bought some fresh bay leaves, you’ll be able to use them for several months.

After that, though, they’ll start to deteriorate, so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Can you extend the shelf life of a bay leaf?

Yes, you can actually extend the shelf life of a bay leaf.

There are two ways to do this:

  • Store them in an airtight container
  • Add them to other foods

The first method is the easiest, and you can find instructions for doing it here.

Simply place the bay leaves inside a jar, cover them with olive oil, and then add a few cloves.

Make sure not to let any light shine on the jar, and leave it alone until the bay leaves completely dissolve into the oil.

You can also try soaking the leaves in vinegar, which helps to preserve them.

To do this, fill a bowl with water and add one tablespoon of white wine vinegar.

Place the bay leaves in the bowl and let sit overnight.

Then drain the leaves and store them in an airtight container.

How long do bay leaves last?

One bay leaf lasts for about three weeks once you’ve opened the package.

However, it’s recommended that you only use one bay leaf per serving, so you won’t need to buy new ones often.

Can you extend the shelf life of a bay leaf?

There isn’t much you can do to extend the shelf life of a bay leaf beyond storing them in an airtight container.

Some people recommend keeping the bay leaves in a glass jar, but this can cause mold to grow on them, which could potentially ruin your meal.

What is the best way to store bay leaves?

Bay leaves store well in sealed containers, but you should avoid using plastic because it can absorb odors.

Instead, choose glass jars that are tightly closed.

If you decide to use plastic, make sure it’s BPA-free and doesn’t contain phthalates.

Do Bay Leaves Go Bad? 1

How do you know when it’s time to throw out a bay leaf?

After you open the package, you’ll probably notice that the leaves have lost their shape.

They’ll also likely be soft and crumbly, and they’ll have a stronger odor.

These are all signs that the bay leaves have gone bad.

Is it worth it to try and salvage a bay leaf that’s starting to go bad?


Once you’ve discarded the ones that are beginning to go bad, chop them up and add them to your recipes.

You can even add them to salads or marinades.

Just remember that the chopped up leaves can stain fabrics easily, so it’s best to wear gloves while working with them.

Stew beef

Beef & Bay Leaves

Beef & Bay Leaves is a dilicious dish, beef is stewed tenderly with with fragrant Bay Leaves
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 406 kcal


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat
  • 3-5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion
  • 5 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 frozen peas


  • Combine flour and pepper, add beef and toss to coat.
  • Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in dutch oven or large pot. Salt the beef and then add to the pot in batches
  • Turning until browned on all sides about 5 minutes, then add more oil
  • Remove beef from the pot and add wine vinegar and red wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat
  • Add beef, broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
  • Cook about 1.5 hours until beef is tender
  • Add onions and carrots and cook 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cook about 20 minutes more until all veggies are tender. Add peas if using, and cook another 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-5.


Calories: 406kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 32gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 2071mgPotassium: 1325mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 12749IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 87mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Beef & Bay Leaves
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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