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Bay Leaves

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Has anyone ever "performed a controlled experiment" so to speak to discover exactly what flavor a whole bay leaf adds to say... a stock? I'm not talking about grinding it up and using it. I've just always wondered exactly what it adds to a dish in a bouquet garnis or thrown in a stock, etc.

Let me guess, more depth? But could you really tell if it was there or missing?
post #2 of 12
Hi Mudbug,

That's a great question.

Bay leaves have always been known to help with your ability to digest foods.That's one reason it's in Bouget garnis,soups,stews,marinades and pates (just to name a few)

Depth is a subjective word when it comes to food and it's conplexities.Although I have never performed an "experiment" so to speak with laural, I do know that the flavor is somewhat akin to juniper(in a mild sense) and when teamed with thyme,peppercorn and parsley stems in a bouget it smells wonderful.

It's juniper-earthyness properties would be missed (in my opinion) if omited from a recipe.

Even the bay leaves stems are great tossed in when smoking meats. It is important to mentain that most laurals are poisonous except the sweet bay.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #3 of 12

Funny you should ask. I often wondered the same thing. The answer came to me when I started growing my own bay trees and using fresh leaves in my stocks. What a difference in flavour! It's hard to describe, a subtle aroma, a depth as you say. It gives a "clean" note to a stock, not exactly the way juniper would. I think juniper is to bay what Obsession is to Chanel #5. Does that make any sense?
post #4 of 12
Makes perfect sense Anneke. Which type of Bay do you grow, the California variety or the Turkish? Anneke, I always thought that Laurel (Bay) was a subtropical tree/bush, how do you grow it in Canada?
post #5 of 12
You're right, they don't. But they thrive in my dining room! I've been very lucky; they usually grow pretty slowly, but mine grow fast enough to keep up with my cooking.

It says Laurel Nobilis on the tag Pete. Which one is that?
post #6 of 12
We grow bay leaves right ouside the restaurant, we have two trees. And since i am in southern germany I am suprised that they wouldn't grow in Canada, as the climate is very similar.

Also for a long time I wondered what bay leaves added, I have found that it does add to stews and stocks.
Both long and rich, full of intense flavours, new discoveries, unexpected contrasts.
Both long and rich, full of intense flavours, new discoveries, unexpected contrasts.
post #7 of 12
I don't have a clue Anneke!:) All I know is that the Turkish Bay is much better than the California stuff. The flavor is much more subtle, and well rounded. I also prefer fresh to dried, but here in the boonies of Wisconsin, that is not so easy to get. Maybe I will try growing some at home!
post #8 of 12
I fully agree with Anneke!
It's funny, it happened to me just the opposite than her. Here in Genoa, laurels are everywhere as they're used as ornamental trees and I had always used fresh leaves. Once I picked up too many leaves and the leftover ones dried. I didn't want to throw them away, so added them to something I was cooking. OMG...where did their wonderful flavour go?
My opinion is that bay leaves are like marjoram...if you can't get them fresh, better you use something else.

post #9 of 12

One of my favourite ways to roast chicken is Roman style: completely covered in fresh bay leaves. Although my puny little bushes would be completely depleted for that so I have to wait for fresh bay to appear in stores.

Pete, I got a starter plant for Can$7, 4-5 years ago. It was slow to take off but very sturdy (will grow anywhere in your house). After about a year and a half it just took off like crazy. I don't recommend starting them from seeds. I bought mine as a 7 year old and it was only about 7-8" tall.
post #10 of 12

I think our weather is very different. A bay tree would probably not survive the winter, the snow, ice and -30'C temperatures. It's not always that cold, but it does get there on occasion!

In a pot, they are quite happy outside in the summer but they need to be brought in come fall. I just leave them indoors because I don't like being stuck with garden bugs all winter long... :rolleyes:
post #11 of 12
I live on the west coast of Canada (Vancouver) which enjoys a temperate climate similar to Seattle. I have had a bay tree for several years growing in my herb garden & it is now over 6 ft tall, despite constant pruning and constant useage. They can grow in Canada, depending upon where you live.
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
I grow a bay laurel myself.

You can pretty much grow anything anywhere (except maybe the polar caps) as along as you can control the environment and make it conducive to the plant.

(Laurel Nobilis) aka: Sweet Bay, Greek Bay, Bay Laurel, (Turkish variety)

Check here for additional info from a previous thread on Bay Laurel.

Be sure to scroll down and read the article Dance of the bay leaves: Turkish or California?

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