Bay leaves refer to the aromatic leaf of the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavour and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavour soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean Cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavour until several weeks after picking and drying.
The bay leaf is oval, pointed and smooth, 2.5 - 8 cm long. When fresh, the leaves are shiny and dark green on top with lighter undersides. When dried the bay leaf is a matte olive green.
Bouquet: Warm and quite pungent when broken and the aromatic oils are released.
Flavour: Slightly bitter and strongly aromatic.
- Purchase and Avoid
- Dried bay leaves may be purchased as whole leaves, broken bits, or a powder. Whether buying fresh or dry, choose whole leaves with the brightest green colour and strongest aroma you can find. Brown leaves will have lost their flavour. For best flavour, bay leaves should not be used more than 1 year after harvest.
- Kept out of light in airtight containers the whole leave will retain flavour for over two years.
The bay leaf is useful in hearty, homestyle cooking. Whole leaves are often used in cooking and crushed or ground leaves can be used for extra strength.
Bay leaves may be best known in bouquets garnis or used similarly in soups, sauces, stews, daubes and courts-bouillon’s, an appropriate seasoning for fish, meat and poultry.
Bay leaf is often included as a pickling spice.
When you are making bean, split pea and vegetable soups, meat stews, spaghetti sauce, and chilli, a bay leaf can be added for a more pungent flavour.
Alternate whole bay leaves with meat, seafood, or vegetables on skewers before cooking.
Add bay leaves to slow-cooked sauces and stocks or when poaching fish or seafood.
Poach pears in red or white wine syrup with bay leaves, peppercorns, and a strip of orange or lemon zest.
Be sure to remove bay leaves before eating a dish that has finished cooking. The whole leaves are used to impart flavour only and are bitter and hard to chew.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Herbs
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