The spice bay leaf is an aromatic leaf of the bay laurel evergreen laurel tree native to southern Europe. Scientific name is Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae. Fresh or dried spice bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. Fresh bay leaves are thick, shiny on top, dull underneath and deep green color. Kept out of light in airtight containers, the whole bay leave will retain flavor for over two years. To store effectively, keep bay leaf in the dark in an airtight container, the whole bay leaf will retain flavor for up to two years.
Bay leaf is very fragrant even when dried, described as slightly floral and earthy, somewhat similar to oregano or thyme seasoning. Bay leafs are sharp and bitter if eaten whole. Bay leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pÃ¢tÃ©s recipes. Bay leaf can be used in marinades, brine and a good spaghetti sauce must have ingredient. Bay leaf is essential to a good bouquet garni recipe and often combined with thyme, savory, oregano and parsley spices in a muslin cheesecloth bag for flavoring then removed before serving.
Bay leaf is often used to flavor recipes for cassoulets, bean dishes, fish stew or bouillabaisse. Adding a bay leaf with black peppercorns adds wonderful flavor for a shrimp boil. Bay adds good essence to beef bullion, bourguignon or beef stew. Bay leaf is essential for pickling brine. Bay leaf added to fresh cream or dairy based sauces adds a nice aromatic. Bay leaf can also be used to flavor rice or lentils recipes. Bay leaf recipes are also used in the French poule au pot or chicken in a pot recipe.
There are several types of bay leaf seasoning, most commonly Turkish Bay, California and Indian Bay. Turkish is the Californian Bay Leaf is strongest spice. Indian Bay leaf or Malabathrum spices have a more cinnamon than bay flavor and should not be substituted for bay leaf in recipes.
Bay leaves have several other great uses, insecticidal properties so scattering them in oneâ€™s pantry can help repel meal moths, sliverfish, flies and roaches. Add a bay leaf to flour, grains and dried rice will do likewise. This effect is due to the lauric acid oil contained in the bay leaf.
Bay leaf has also been used medicinally to treat high blood sugar, migraines and infections. It can be used in a bath to help relieve muscle pain. Bay has been used to treat gastric ulcers as well. Bay leaf also contains eugenol, an essential oil which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The country of Turkey is the main exporter of bay leaves.
Fresh bay leaves are milder than dried as they do not develop their full flavor until weeks after picking.
In the Elizabethan food era, some people believed pinning bay leaves to one’s pillow on the eve of Valentines Day would permit one to see one’s future spouse in a dream.
Bay leaves have been used in entomology in killing jars to preserve specimens.
Bay leaf tea is delicious to many people world wide.