Bay Leaf –Know Your Herbs and Spices
Good cooks know that a few bay leaves go a long way. Not to be confused with bayberry, Bay Laurel leaves pack a punch in soups and stews and need to be removed before serving. The flavor intensifies the longer it is left in the dish.
This herb that was once thought to give warriors protection and strength by the Greeks, has found its way into our hearts and cook pots.
Bay Laurel trees grow an average of 10 feet when cultivated. It can be grown in containers and pruned back to harvest throughout the year in zone 8 or warmer. Unfortunately I live in zone 6 so I need to buy mine dried from the store.
That’s okay, bay leaves work in so many dishes that it is worth having it on hand. Bay leaves enhance meat as well as poultry. Bay goes especially well with tomato sauces. You can also add leaves to the water when cooking vegetables and remove before serving.
You can keep a container of dried bay leaves about 2 years before it loses its scent and flavor. Do a quick sniff test for strength if in doubt.
Bay Laurel leaves are also used in wreaths and crafting for their wonderful aroma. A Bay Laurel wreath is a great gift for any cook. Hint, hint my birthday is in October ;).
Try adding bay leaves to the following dishes:
- Beef Stew
- Pork Roasts
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Steep in milk for custards
- Steep for teas
- Add to herbed vinegars