The Microwave Trick For Storing Curry Leaves Far Longer

Spicy and citrusy, fresh curry leaves lend South Asian dishes a fragrant aroma and warming flavor. They have a lifespan of about two weeks when stored in the fridge, which isn't a problem if you use them regularly to make tempered dhal, fish masala, and homemade pickles. However, if you can't use up all your curry leaves before they begin to wilt and discolor, you can dehydrate them with a quick spin in the microwave, allowing you to store them for longer.

Fresh curry leaves are traditionally bloomed in oil with dry spices, like cumin, mustard seeds, and asafetida, to create an aromatic base for curries, rasams, and tarkas. Luckily, dried curry leaves can be used in the same way. Zapping fresh leaves in the microwave increases their shelf life by removing excess moisture, thereby preventing the growth of bacteria and mold. Much like the way fresh chilies are dried in the sunshine, the microwave dehydrates the leaves so they become crunchy.

Moreover, fresh curry leaves you've dried yourself are usually more potent than ones that come pre-dried in packages that may have been sitting on the supermarket shelf for long; you know they're relatively fresh and you get full control over how many you produce. Microwaving curry leaves is also a great way to preserve an abundance of fresh leaves before you go away on holiday. Keeping a stash in your pantry means you can instantly add more flavor to your next curry when the mood strikes.

Dry your curry leaves before microwaving them

The first step to drying your curry leaves in the microwave is to remove them from the large central stem and wash them well. This will remove any dirt or grime on their glossy surface. Sandwich the wet leaves between two sheets of paper towel to dry them thoroughly. Then spread the leaves out in a single layer on a microwaveable plate. Finally, microwave them for one minute before checking on their texture. If they feel crisp to the touch they're done. However, if the leaves still have some flexibility, return them to the microwave for short intervals of 20 seconds or so (the total time required will vary depending on the wattage of your microwave). You should be able to crush the leaves with your fingertips when they are dried properly.

Place the dried leaves in an airtight jar and they should keep well for three to six months. Simply remove as many as you need when you want to use them to make a tarka for a fragrant moong dal or lip-smacking rasam. While the flavor of dried leaves is more subdued than fresh leaves, they will still impart their unique aroma and taste into your favorite dishes when bloomed in a slick of oil. If you're craving a stronger flavor, just add more leaves.