Robust with a woody and astringent flavor, bay leaves are a tough leaf added to a variety of recipes, including soups, stews and sauces, to round out the taste. Like other dried herbs and spices, bay leaves don't go bad, but they might lose their flavor power if not stored properly.
They may not spoil, but bay leaves may be considered bad if you don't get the flavor you're expecting. Like any herb in your cupboard, there are a few factors that can affect flavor potency of your bay leaves, says What's Cooking America, which includes heat, light and moisture. That's why storage conditions are so important when it comes to herbs like bay leaves.
To keep your bay leaves fresh and ensure that every recipe you add the leaves to tastes as good as the last time you made it, store the herb in a cool, dark and dry place. Also, keep your bay leaves in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and properly close the container after each use.
Moisture from boiling pot can affect the flavor of bay leaves. To prevent flavor loss, open your jar and dispense the leaves away from the hot pot.
If you're storing bay leaves properly, they should retain their flavor for up to three years, according to Spice Island. For freshness and flavor potency, use the manufacturer's use-by or best-by date as a guide. If the date has passed, the bay leaves may not be as flavorful. Bay leaves may lose their flavor in as little as one year if they are not stored properly, says Spice Island.