It was way back in my school cookery classes that I first started using bay leaves, and now when I open my kitchen cupboard - sure enough I'm still using them ... I wonder how many I may have used over these years? Makes you think!
The aromatic leaf from the bay laurel tree, it is an essential component of the classic bouquet garni: parsley, thyme and a bay leaf. The bittersweet, spicy leaves impart their pungent flavour to a variety of dishes and ingredients, making bay a versatile store cupboard ingredient. It’s also one of the few herbs that doesn’t lose its flavour when dried.
A brief guide to bay leaves including nutritional information and uses in the kitchen.
Bay leaves are a wonderful addition to any soup, sauce, stew or casserole. They are mainly used dry and are just thrown into the pot and allowed to impart their rich and aromatic flavour.
The bay leaf that we use in cooking is actually the dried leaf of the Bay Laurel tree (Laurus Nobililis). This is why bay leaves can also be known as sweet bay, sweet laurel, laurel leaf or bay laurel.
The bay laurel tree is native to Asia Minor but is now grown all over the Mediterranean, as it is suited to warm climates. There are two main types of bay leaf - the Mediterranean bay leaf and the Californian bay leaf. The Californian bay leaf is much stronger in flavour and the Mediterranean bay leaf is widely used in Mediterranean-style cooking.
The bay leaf is one of the herbs and ingredients that make up a "bouquet garni". A bouquet garni is a bunch of herbs that is tied together with string and placed into a stock, sauce or stew whilst cooking. It is used to add flavour to the dish and the bundle is removed before serving and discarded.
History of the bay leaf.
Although the bay leaf was not introduced to England until the sixteenth century, it has been around since ancient Greek and Roman times.
In fact, the bay leaf was held in such high esteem that victors of battle, sport and study were crowned with garlands of laurel, as a symbol of their success. This is where the term "baccalaureate" originates from and it is now referred to when students have successfully completed their schooling years.
Vitamin and mineral content of the bay leaf.
Although bay leaves are only used a few at a time and are not actually consumed themselves, they still provide a number of vitamins and minerals to a dish through cooking. Bay leaves are a good source of Vitamins A and C and also contain significant amounts of iron and manganese in particular, as well as smaller amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Health benefits of the bay leaf.
In ancient times bay leaves were used medicinally for a number of things. They were used for ailments of the liver, kidney and stomach and were also thought to alleviate wasp and bee stings.
Nowadays, bay leaves are still used by herbalists to treat even more illnesses and complaints than ever. Below is a list of how bay leaves are used curatively today:
* A cloth soaked in boiled bay leaves in water, which is placed on the chest can relieve chest infections, flu, coughs and bronchitis.
* Massage bay leaf essential oil onto affected areas to relieve sprains, swellings, backache and arthritic and rheumatic pains.
* An infusion of bay leaves will promote sweating, which will help clear up flu and feverish symptoms.
* Bay leaves settle the stomach and help to treat digestive disorders.
* They are useful for proper digestion and can reduce flatulence.
* They can help to breakdown and digest certain food types such as proteins.
* A bay leaf rinse can help to treat dandruff.
Ideas for using bay leaves in the kitchen.
Bay leaves are never eaten themselves and are really just used to add extra flavour to a number of dishes. Bay leaves can be used in the following ways:
* Prepare a bouquet garni and add to soups, stews, casseroles and sauces.
* Use in pickling solutions.
* Add to boiling water for shrimp, crab and other seafood.
* Use in marinades for meat and fish. * Add to milk when preparing homemade rice puddings or other milk puddings.
Bay Leaf Recipes.
To see a lamb, a salmon and a duck recipe that include bay leaves as one of their ingredients, please look here
Most words above taken from this article
Are bay leaves something you use in your cooking?
Do you have a favourite recipe?
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All the best Jan
All the best Jan
A very interesting and informative read! Hugs, Valerie
We have a bay tree at the bottom of the garden but we don't use the leaves but probably could by just drying them out? I know the darned tree grows like crazy though.
I use bay leaves all the time. I never run out of them.
...I didn't know!
I use dry bay leaves in soups because Mom did...I had no idea why...but I did it anyway lol.
I've also heard that placing bay leaves around the house will discourage ants from coming in. Just sayin'. Never tried it myself (don't have an ant problem). :)
Interesting about them containing vitamins and minerals too.
Hello, I did not know all the health benefits of the bay leaves. That is awesome.
Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!
I always use bayleaves with meat, but had no idea of all the different uses it has.
We have a small laurel tree and I dry it's leaves.
Hello:) Our farm is called "Laurel Farm". We have several Bay Laurel trees growing on our property, and of course we use the bay leaves in cooking. A lobster cooked with a bouquet garni, which includes two bay leaves gives the lobster a wonderful. flavour, but we use it in all our cooking. What I didn't realize is that it has other uses, and has beneficial vitamins as well. What I thought of as a common herb, has now become an even more appreciated plant.:)
I am very happy to wander outside and pick a bay leaf. I add it to lots of things, and sometimes just crush it and enjoy the scent.
Enjoyed this very much, so interesting to learn about the bay leaf. I use them a lot too.
Lots of great information! I certainly do use bay leaves with some of my recipes. Learned it from my mom!
I put bay leaves into my sour kraut and red cabbage dishes ... slow cooked to perfection in butter and bacon ... Love, cat.
How I love bay leaves, they are so versatile, I'm lucky having an endless supply of fresh ones. I love the fact they are evergreen too so useful all year around.xxx
Thanks for the information on the bay leaves!
I love using bay leaves whenever I cook meals that will simmer. I didn't know all that interesting information about them though, nor about the vitamins in them. Thank you for doing all that research and sharing it, I will intentionally remember to cook with bay leaves more often! Hugs to you :)
Well who'd have thought there was so many interesting facts about Bay leaves. We have a huge Bay tree in our garden...I'm now going to collect far more of the leaves than I've ever done before. Thanks for sharing the information :D
What a great post Jan! Thank you!
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