Bay leaves are the leaves of the Laurus Nobilis tree, also known as Sweet Laurel. Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaves of several plants used in cooking. Bay leaves were used for flavoring by the ancient Greeks.
If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. They also contain the ess ntial oil eugenol.
Fresh leaves are very rich source of vitamin-C, folic acid and vitamin A. And they are a good source of copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
They have been used since the ancient times to treat problems associated with the liver, stomach and kidney. They were also used as a remedy for bee and wasp stings.
Today, herbalists use bay leaves for treating various health complaints.
- Helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Improves digestive disorders
- Alleviates flatulence
- Improves symptoms of fever and flu.
- Provides relief from swellings, arthritic and rheumatic pain.
The leaves should be removed from the cooked food before eating. They remain very stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces, they may pose a risk of scratching the digestive tract or even causing choking.
- Buy from authentic sources and avoid those with off-smell, spots, or fungus infected leaves.
- The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine.
- They are used also in meat, seafood, vegetable dishes, and sauces.
Store bay leaf in airtight jar or container and keep away from direct light. Its leaves should not be stored for longer than a year since they will then lose flavor.