Wondering how to store curry leaves to make them last a long time? Keep reading for all my tips and tricks!
As a South Indian, I can’t imagine cooking without curry leaves! Always having curry leaves at home to whip up a South Indian curry is important to me, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep my curry leaves fresh for as long as possible.
Here’s what you’ll need:
What are curry leaves?
Curry leaves are an aromatic and flavorful herb used primarily in South Indian cooking. Known as kariveppilai in Tamil, this herb is a staple in my mother’s kitchen.
It is used to enhance the aroma and flavor of various dishes, especially curries and lentil stews. Making fish curry without curry leaves is unthinkable!
Interestingly, curry leaves are also used in Southeast Asian cooking. Having grown up in Malaysia, which is a melting pot of various cultures and cuisines, I’ve been able to enjoy some wonderful fusion food that surprisingly uses curry leaves.
For example, kam heong chicken (aromatic & spicy dried chili chicken), one of my favorite Malaysian food, is made with curry leaves and curry powder along with soy sauce and oyster sauce.
This aromatic herb can be found at your local Indian grocer, or even grown at home.
How are curry leaves used?
My favorite way of using curry leaves is to sauté them in hot oil along with other aromatics such as onions, ginger, garlic, and chili. This combination of ingredients often forms the base of most of the South Indian cooking I do at home.
While some don’t enjoy the taste of curry leaves and prefer to pick them out of their food, it’s perfectly fine to eat them. In fact, my mum would always tell me as a kid, “You can eat those curry leaves, you know? They’re really good for your hair!”
In addition to South Indian dishes, you can use curry leaves in Malaysian dishes such as kam heong chicken and ayam goreng berempah (Malay spicy fried chicken).
How to keep curry leaves fresh?
Usually, these leaves are sold in large quantities and when cooking with them, you just need to use a handful or so. In other words, if you’re not careful, you might find that a lot of your curry leaves go bad before you get to use them up!
When I first started managing my own kitchen, I was definitely guilty of this! Over time, I found ways to keep my curry leaves fresh for a much longer time.
How to store fresh curry leaves?
Here are the best ways to store curry leaves for a long time:
- In the fridge. Storing your curry leaves this way keeps them good for 2 – 3 weeks.
- In the freezer. This storage method allows you to preserve your curry leaves for up to 6 months.
- As a powder in an airtight container. This method involves drying out your curry leaves in the microwave and crumbling them into a powder that you can then use in place of fresh curry leaves.
How long can curry leaves stay in fridge?
My favorite method of storing curry leaves is in the fridge. This storage method is easy and hassle-free.
Here’s how to keep curry leaves fresh in the fridge:
- Remove curry leaves from the stem.
- Line an airtight container with kitchen towels.
- Transfer the loose curry leaves into the container.
- Close the airtight container and store it in the fridge.
- Replace the kitchen towel every few days.
The kitchen towels help to absorb any excess moisture and keep the curry leaves fresh for a longer time.
When you need curry leaves, just take out as many as you need, discarding any that have turned black, wash them under running water and use them in your cooking.
Curry leaves stored this way last for 2 – 3 weeks.
Can you freeze fresh curry leaves?
Yes, you can freeze your curry leaves to preserve them for a longer period of time.
Here’s how to freeze fresh curry leaves:
- Wash your curry leaves under running water.
- Remove them from the stem and let them dry on trays lined with kitchen towels. You can pat them dry to speed up this process.
- Once they’re dry, store them in a freezer-safe zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer.
Curry leaves stored in the freezer may change in color, but they’re still good and you can use them in your cooking. Just take out as many as you need and keep the rest back in the freezer.
Since the curry leaves are already washed, you can use them straight out of the freezer.
Curry leaves can be frozen for up to 6 months.
How to make curry leaves powder?
Making curry leaves powder required a little more effort, but using it in your cooking in place of fresh curry leaves is quite convenient.
Here’s how to dry curry leaves in the microwave and make curry leaves powder:
- Wash your curry leaves under running water.
- Remove them from the stem and pat them dry with kitchen towels.
- Place them in a microwave-safe container and microwave on medium-high at 1-minute intervals until the curry leaves are crisp, dry, and can be crumbled with your fingers.
- Crumble the dry curry leaves into a coarse powder with your fingers, or grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder.
Curry leaves powder can be stored in an airtight container for 2 – 3 months. Here are some tips on storing ground spices and powders to prolong their shelf life.
You can add this powder in place of fresh curry leaves in South Indian dishes.
Recipes using curry leaves
If you’re wondering how to use this power-packed herb in your day-to-day cooking, here are some recipes you can try out:
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with fresh curry leaves?
Most popularly, fresh curry leaves are used in Indian cooking, especially in dals and curries. Typically, the leaves are tempered in hot oil along with other spices to flavor the oil and enhance the overall aroma and taste of the dish.
How many curry leaves should I use?
Using too little can cause your dish to be underwhelming in terms of flavor. Using too much, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. So it’s always best to follow the recipe to get it just right!
How long do fresh curry leaves last?
Depending on how you store your curry leaves, they can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. If stored in the fridge in an airtight container lined with paper towels, they can last for 2 – 3 weeks. If your freeze curry leaves, on the other hand, they can last for up to 6 months.
How do I keep curry leaves fresh longer?
To keep fresh for 2 – 3 weeks, remove curry leaves from the stem and keep in an airtight container lined with paper towels in the fridge. If you wish to sore your curry leaves for a longer time, consider freezing them instead.
Can you store curry leaves in the fridge?
Yes, you can! Just remove the leaves from the stem and put them in an airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture before storing in the fridge. When you want to use the leaves, just give the a quick check and discard any that have turned black.
How long can curry leaves stay in fridge?
Curry leaves can be stored in the fridge for over 2 weeks, but make sure to keep them in an airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
When water droplets form in the container, wipe them off and replace the paper towels. This is important because moisture can cause the leaves to rot faster.
How to preserve curry leaves without a fridge?
Dry your curry leaves. The dried leaves can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 – 3 months.
How to dry curry leaves?
The easiest and fastest way to dry curry leaves is to spread them out on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on medium-high at 1-minute intervals, until the leaves are dry and crisp. The dried leaves can then be stored in an airtight container.
Is it better to freeze or dry curry leaves?
Frozen curry leaves have a stronger aroma and flavor than the dried ones. Opt for freezing to retain the intense aroma of fresh curry leaves. If you prefer a milder flavor that still adds depth to your dish, dry your curry leaves instead.
Are dried curry leaves as good as fresh?
Dried curry leaves have less aroma and flavor than fresh ones. When using dried curry leaves in cooking, make sure to add more dried leaves than you would fresh to compensate for the loss of flavor.
How to store curry leaves for months?
To store curry leaves for months, freeze them. Wash and properly dry them before putting them in a freezer-safe zip lock bag and freezing them. Curry leaves stored this way can last up to 6 months. They may change in color, but they’ll still remain flavorful.
And that’s how you store curry leaves for a long time!
Curry leaves are such an essential ingredient in South Indian cooking and having them on hand makes cooking so much more stress-free.
So the next time you’re worried about buying a big bag of curry leaves from your local Indian grocer, don’t be! Just refrigerate, freeze or dry them so you can use them whenever you want.
If you tried these tips, please rate and comment below! We’d love to hear from you.