Bay Leaves

In our never ending quest to read up on all things food, we’re continuing our quest for information on herbs and spices.We’ve also started to refer to ourselves in the collective, mostly because it’s way early and I’ve had no caffeine.

Regardless, I wish to talk about Bay leaves, mostly because I know very little about them.

There are two different types of Bay leaves in the market. There are:

  • Mediteranean Bay Leaves:Laurus nobilis Is typically found in the, say it with me now, Mediteranean area of the world. They’ve been around for quite some time, having been popular in Greece and Italy. In fact, the wreaths of laurel that adorned Olympic winners were made of these little leaves.
  • California Bay Leaves: California bay tree produces this leave and is also known as ‘California laurel’, ‘Oregon myrtle’, or ‘pepperwood’. It is similar to the Mediterranean bay, but has a stronger flavor. It’s genus name is the Umbellularia californica.

The most common form of bay leaf as an herb is the dried whole leaf. Dried leaves are typically less bitter than those fresh off the tree.

There’s some who think that Bay Leaves are poisonous, but this is simply not the case. Whole Bay Leaves are often removed from dishes, as the sharp edges of the leaves are reputed to cause intestinal distress.

After having a taste, I can describe it’s flavor as a very bitter flavor, with a hint of an earthy mint tea. It’s a flavor that goes well when pared with artichokes, beet, celery root, chicken, corned beef, fish, potatoes, duck, roast pork and tomato sauce. Use them in soups, sauces, marinades and stews.

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