What is Bay Leaf?

Laurus nobilis 

Family: Lauraceae

Also known as Bay Laurel, European Bay Laurel or Mediterranean Laurel. Five other species are used as bay leaf (Californian, Indian, Mexican Indonesian and West Indian Bay leaves).

An aromatic, usually dried leaf of the European Bay Laurel tree (Laurus nobilis) used to flavour and season food. The aroma is due to presence of essential oils like myrcene and eugenol.

If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste so they should be discarded at the end cooking, before serving the food.

Canadian Food and Drug Regulations require that bay leaves contain 7% moisture or less.

Culinary Use of Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are used whole and discarded after cooking. They can also be crushed to enhance flavour but must be tied in a muslin bag or put in a tea infuser because they should be discarded after cooking. Ground bay leaves are reported to be available but I’ve never used them so would not recommend them.

The leaves are often used to flavour soups, stews, sauces, meat, seafood, vegetable dishes, beans, and sauces.

Bay leaf is an essential component of Bouquet Garni, usually composed of parsley, thyme and a bay leaf.

In the Philippines, dried bay laurel leaves are added as a spice in the dish called adobo. (WIKI)

Unlike coriander, bay leaf does not lose it’s flavour and aroma, when dried. In fact, it’s always used in dried form, because the fresh leaves have a very mild flavour and aroma.

Species used as Bayleaf

Family Lauraceae

  1. Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  2. California bay leaf California bay tree (Umbellularia californica)
  3. Indian Bay Leaf or Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala)
  4. Mexican Bay Leaf (Litsea glaucescens).

Family Myrtaceae

  1. Indonesian bay leaf or Indonesian laurel (Syzygium polyanthum)
  2. West Indian bay leaf, the leaf of the West Indian bay tree (Pimenta racemosa)

Below is a photo of Indonesian Bay Leaf (left) and Bay Laurel (right)

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Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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