What is Bay Leaf?

Laurus nobilis 

Family: Lauraceae

This post is dedicated to  Bay Laurel which is also known as European Bay Laurel or Mediterranean Laurel.

Bay leaf is 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.

You need to note that there are five other species used as bay leaf, namely, Californian, Indian, Mexican, Indonesian and West Indian Bay leaves).

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.

Here is a lis of the six species used as bayleaf

Family Lauraceae

  1. Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) also known as: European Bay Laurel or Mediterranean Laurel
  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)

Indonesian Bay Laurel and European Bay Laurel myfavouritepastime.com

Below is a photo of Indian Bay Leaf aka Malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala)

Indian Bay Leaf myfavouritepastime.com

myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: July 23, 2019

Author: Liz

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

6 thoughts

  1. Thanks Liz for yr reply. In Malaysia, we can only find Indonesian bay leaves but for Indian bay leaves, we need to buy from online. I planted a Indonesian bay leaves tree in my garden a few days ago. I hope I can make tea with the leaves. Is it necessary to dry the leaves first before using?

    1. You can use them fresh and keep them in the fridge for a few weeks, but they last longer dried. You probably have to use 1/2 the quantity for tea because the flavour will be more intense and make sure you discard it after use. We only get fresh Indonesian bay leaves here. The rest are dried. Wish you a happy and prosperous 2020.

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