And while we can’t speak to the existence of Nessie or secret societies hell bent on controlling world events (if you are real, please contact us.There are a lot of haters out there who think that bay leaves are pointless, a flavorless addition to soups and sauces.When the herb is infused into water, broth, or another cooking liquid, an almost minty flavor (somewhere between spearmint and menthol) develops, with subtle hints of black pepper and Christmas tree pine.While the flavor of things like chiles, dried spices, and browned meat shout, the flavor of the bay leaf whispers. .
What's the Point of Bay Leaves?
"Lots of stews, stocks, and soups call for bay leaves, but I don't really taste them in the final dish.Here's an easy way to see what bay leaves really taste like: throw a couple in a pot of water and let it simmer.Taste it after five minutes and you'll probably get a good hit of menthol and eucalyptus (think: Vick's VapoRub).That's the chemical eugenol you're smelling, and it's the biggest constituent in the bay leaf's flavor arsenal of more than 50 compounds.But just as a grind of black pepper, some sautéed anchovies, or a softened leek might not be instantly recognizable in a stew, they add a layer of subtle background music for the stars of your dish to play over.Tender, leafy herbs have highly volatile flavor compounds that dissipate rapidly.Hot weather herbs that grow in arid climates tend to have aromatic compounds that are far less volatile (it makes sense, as these are leaves designed to try and retain as much moisture as possible), which means that even after drying, they retain a decent amount of flavor.There's another very important consideration when choosing fresh versus dried bay leaves. .
What's The Purpose Of Bay Leaves?
It's a question anyone who's stared at a $3.79 jar of withered plant remains has long debated: Do I really need bay leaves for this recipe?It's a classic addition in soups, stews, and Mediterranean and Indian dishes, but ultimately, it always feels a little fussy, especially when you have to skim it out before serving your meal."Just as a grind of black pepper, some sautéed anchovies, or a softened leek might not be instantly recognizable in a stew, they add a layer of subtle background music for the stars of your dish to play over," wrote Serious Eats' culinary director J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.Essentially, it adds another layer of flavor to a soup or stew, and the tea-like (oh-so-slightly menthol) aromas help lighten up a hearty dish, so it's less likely to bog you down after a big meal.
The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy
Chef Anna Klinger, of Park Slope’s Al Di La, said: “I like them and use quite a bit.”.Anna Klinger and I are not technically friends so I do not take this lie personally, and I appreciate the way she did not explicitly state on record that bay leaves are not bullshit.Chef Matty Bennett, of the Lower East Side’s The Lucky Bee, said: “People don’t realize the flavour they add.Stale bay leaves that sit in your cupboard for months aren’t gonna help you at all.John Connolly, general manager of Williamsburg’s Marlow & Sons and Diner, said: “Fresh bay leaves are legit.I love Joe’s sandwiches, but it is unsettling to find out that he would lie about bay leaves with such ease to me, a valued customer.A PR rep for Harlem’s The Cecil said: “The chef uses them in his brines and stocks along with curry leaves.Chef Emily Elsen, of Gowanus pie shop Four & Twenty Blackbirds, said: “I personally like bay leaves — and particularly when stewing beans, meats, etc.I prefer to use fresh foraged bay leaves when I can get them, which have a stronger, bolder flavor and are unique.”.I can understand how some would feel they get lost in more forceful dishes like beef stew — but I think they add something.Chef Sohui Kim, of Gowanus’s Insa, said: “It’s easy to think that bay leaves might be bullshit.Much like using one piece of anchovy in a pasta sauce, undetectable to to eye or even to the taste buds but packs a real je ne sais quoi, umami punch.It’s easy to think a lot of things that are plainly true, even if a number of chefs are attempting to gaslight the public about them, as if we are unable to draw accurate conclusions from our experiences.Chef Joey Baldino, of Collingswood, NJ’s Zeppoli, said: “For southern Mediterranean cooking I think the bay leave are great.They give a depth of flavor that you can’t get with any other herbs especially in fish dishes …I use bay leaves in almost everything I cook with here at Zeppoli.Also, if you put a bay leaf in your homemade breadcrumbs it will help them last longer, an old Sicilian lady showed me that trick and works great.”.Funny story, we had a person prepping a kaffir lime ice cream base, and they mistakenly used bay leaves.My impression of the person prepping the ice cream base: “Dunno why Kate wants this leaf in here…”.I truly love bay leaves, they are irreplaceable in stocks as they lend a deeper, savory, herbal element that fresh herbs don’t.When simmered in a tomato sauce they have a bright green citrusy note that lightens everything up and adds dimension.Chef Matthew D’Ambrosio, of the Upper East Side’s Amali, said: “Bay leaves are a great under-utilized spice.I’ve had people bring this up before when a chef throws one bayleaf into a stock pot that could fit a horse.One or two add something subtle that you might not be able to pick when they are in a recipe but might be the ingredient that makes you think‘something’s missing’ when omitted.It’s truly unique not spicy, but fragrant almost floral and has great versatility for sweet and savory applications.”.Chef Claire Welle, of Clinton Hill’s Tilda All Day, said: “This is a question with a few answers.Most commonly used in soups, sauces and stocks they are tied to Sunday dinners and long awaited feasts. .
This Is Why We Always Put a Bay Leaf in Our Soup
—Taste of Home Test Kitchen Go to Recipe Bite-sized meatballs made from ground turkey perk up this fun alphabet soup.Taste of Home Pressure-Cooker English Pub Split Pea Soup This family favorite is the same recipe my grandmother used.—Evelyn Southwell, Etters, Pennsylvania Go to Recipe Cayenne pepper gives a little kick to this pretty curried squash soup, a first course that everyone seems to love.The extra flavor gives a deliciously unique twist to an otherwise ordinary soup.—Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma Go to Recipe I decided to add some character to a basic potato chowder with roasted red peppers.The extra flavor gives a deliciously unique twist to an otherwise ordinary soup.—Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma.If you can't find long noodles, angel hair pasta is a good substitute.—Carol Emerson, Aransas Pass, Texas Go to Recipe This flavorful soup is perfect for when you want something warm and filling in a hurry.If you can't find long noodles, angel hair pasta is a good substitute.Slow-Cooked Mexican Beef Soup My family loves this stew, and I'm happy to make it since it's so simple!—Kalyn Gensic, Ardmore, Oklahoma Go to Recipe During the cooler months of the year, this soup makes regular appearances on our dinner table.I wanted to get the same flavors but use a healthier cooking technique, so I made soup using all the classic spices and our favorite veggie, Go to Recipe y husband and I often crave pakoras, deep-fried fritters from India.I wanted to get the same flavors but use a healthier cooking technique, so I made soup using all the classic spices and our favorite veggie, cauliflower !—Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas Go to Recipe This thick and hearty stew with great northern beans is sure to chase the winter chills away.—Charlotte Welch, Utica, New York Go to Recipe The blend of flavors and colors in this hearty soup will bring everyone at the table back for more.—Michaela Rosenthal, Woodland Hills, California Go to Recipe This easy beef stew is incredibly rich.On cold winter evenings here in New England, I've often enjoyed sipping a steaming mugful in front of our fireplacel.—Guy Turnbull, Arlington, Massachusetts Go to Recipe You can prepare this soup as the main course in a hearty lunch or dinner.On cold winter evenings here in New England, I've often enjoyed sipping a steaming mugful in front of our fireplacel.—Amy McFadden, Chelsea, Alabama Go to Recipe I'm always thankful when I can pull such a delicious soup together in under 30 minutes.On cold winter days, my family is thrilled to see this meal on the table.—Jacque Manning, Burbank, South Dakota Go to Recipe This chowder is like a bacon-topped baked potato in a bowl.On cold winter days, my family is thrilled to see this meal on the table.—Jacque Manning, Burbank, South Dakota.—Gina Samokar, North Haven, Connecticut Go to Recipe This escarole and bean soup has become a favorite because it uses kitchen staples, it's packed with healthy ingredients and is a cinch to prepare.—Lisa Belcastro, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts Go to Recipe My daughter Kayla saw a black bean chili while watching a cooking show and called me about it because it looked so good.—Patricia Harmon, Baden, Pennsylvania Go to Recipe I came up with a cheddar cheese soup a while ago and decided to give it a boost with a variety of root vegetables.—Sharon Gerst, North Liberty, Iowa Go to Recipe Every fall and winter, our staff has a soup rotation.Taste of Home Carrot-Parsnip Bisque Warm and comforting, this delicious soup makes a pretty presentation.—Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida Go to Recipe Warm and comforting, this delicious soup makes a pretty presentation.Taste of Home Provencal Ham & Bean Soup There is nothing quite like the wonderful feeling of when you open the door and smell this delicious stew bubbling away in the slow cooker.To make preparation even easier, I like to start it the night before, and then all I have to do is turn on the slow cooker in the morning.—Lyndsay Wells, Ladysmith, British Columbia Go to Recipe There is nothing quite like the wonderful feeling of when you open the door and smell this delicious stew bubbling away in the slow cooker.To make preparation even easier, I like to start it the night before, and then all I have to do is turn on the slow cooker in the morning.—Michelle Beal, Powell, Tennessee Go to Recipe I love sharing our humble and hearty soup made with beef, cabbage and green chiles.—Lea Lidel, Leander, Texas Go to Recipe To show some love at a family gathering, I fill a stockpot with this rich turkey soup brimming with veggies, potatoes and dumplings.Even though this contains some dairy, Go to Recipe I think mushrooms often get used only as a seasoning or added flavor, but I think they are delicious enough to be the main part of a meal.—Jennifer Fisher, Austin, Texas Go to Recipe I love hearty, healthy entree soups, and a bowl of this southwestern sweet potato-soup really satisfies.—Hidemi Walsh, Plainfield, Indiana Go to Recipe This is the best soup I have ever made, according to my husband, who loves salmon so much that he could eat it every day.—Teena Petrus, Johnstown, Pennsylvania Go to Recipe I turned leftover ground chicken into meatballs and dreamed up this cozy southwestern soup.—Bonnie LeBarron, Forestville, New York Go to Recipe Low-sodium ingredients don't diminish the full flavor of this brothy ground turkey vegetable soup.Fresh Swiss chard greens from our garden, corn and cannellini beans round out the flavor profile.Fresh Swiss chard greens from our garden, corn and cannellini beans round out the flavor profile.Sit down to a Mexican classic full of cubed pork, sliced sausage, hominy and more.Sit down to a Mexican classic full of cubed pork, sliced sausage, hominy and more.—Sally Sibthorpe, Shelby Township, Michigan Go to Recipe On chilly nights, we fill the pot with parsnips and celery root for a smooth, creamy soup. .
Do Bay Leaves Even Do Anything?
I never questioned my ways, until I read Kelly Conaboy’s ground-breaking piece of food journalism, The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy.Conaboy’s work caused me to look inward, and once I did I realized that I had no fucking clue what a bay leaf tasted or smelled like, at least not in any real, visceral way.(I mean, I could just accept the word of the many chefs interviewed for the piece, but they’re far too involved in the conspiracy to be trusted.).According to propaganda printed on the jar of bay leaves I just purchased, they “have a bold, vibrant flavor with a hint of camphor and eucalyptus.”.In addition to being shrouded in mystery, these leaves also have a bit of a reputation as trouble makers.Not only do they cause severe mental distress to a certain subset of the population, but I have personally heard tell of at least two people who have been hurt by the plant part, including our very own editor-in-chief who, as a child, choked on a leaf that had been cleverly hiding in a bowl of chili.G/O Media may get a commission Save up to 60% Wayfair Patio Sale Stop, drop, and shop.To check for the existence of flavor, I cooked each type of leaf in the blandest food I had in my pantry: plain white rice.Besides the change of leaf in each batch, all were cooked the exact same way (in my Instant Pot) and tasted side-by-side.This could be because they were whole, with their smell contained safely within their unbroken cellular walls, or it could be a damning piece of evidence in the developing case against Big Leaf.To see if any flavor could be coaxed from this scentless wonder, I threw one of the leaves into my Instant Pot with a cup of rice.Once the rice was done cooking, I opened the pot and was greeted with a tea-like, vaguely medicinal and slightly savory smell.This only made me more certain in my dryer sheet analogy; they make things better, but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly why.If I had a to sum up my impression of bay leaves thus far, I might use the word “subtle,” but that might be a tad bit aggressive.“Do you have any really old bay leaves?” I asked my man-friend, hoping that his spice cabinet was as poorly organized as I suspected it was.They round out the dish they’re in without hogging the spotlight, especially if there aren’t a whole lot of bold flavors in the mix.But if I’m making a hearty beef stew or some other rich dish, I’m not going to panic if I run out of leaves. .
What Is a Bay Leaf-And Can You Eat It?
Bay leaves have a pungent taste and are quite stiff, no matter how long they’ve been cooked.They are identifiable from their signature herbal and slightly floral fragrance, which is similar to thyme and oregano.In 2016, Kelly Conaboy sparked the discussion with a scathing article called “The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy.”.While I truly believe bay leaves do add a certain depth of flavor that’s not present sans bay leaf, my lackluster palate and propensity to fall victim to the power of suggestion make me the wrong person to contribute to this discussion.“I had a coworker at Cooking Light tell me you just have to use a LOT, so I made soup and put like 10 bay leaves in there.Kimberly Holland, senior editor at AllRecipes and author of Collagen Handbook: Recipes for Natural Living, agreed (albeit less enthusiastically): “I also think they’re useless, but I've also probably never used a bay leaf that was less than 3 years old because I use them so infrequently.”.“Your stew or sauce won’t be ruined if you don’t have them, but they add a lil’ somethin-somethin,” asserts Jaime Milan, digital editor at EatingWell.I’m most inclined to agree, however, with this thoughtful bay leaf analysis from Darcy Lenz, MyRecipes’ senior editor: “I know there are a lot of people in the food world who have deemed them useless, but while they're not going to be the outstanding flavor highlight of your dish, I wouldn't cast them aside as useless either.Bay leaves don't hit you over the head with intense aromatic flavor presence, but if they're included in a slow simmering soup, stew, or braise, they do add a subtle flavor layer that's going to lend a little more depth to whatever you're cooking.(I do think that you also gotta keep in mind that if you're using the same tin of store brand bay leaves you've kept through the last four times you've moved, expectations for their flavor-boosting power need to be reasonably managed.Fresh bay leaves are going to give you more of a flavor boost, but they’ll only last about a week if you store them properly (in a sealed bag in the fridge).Dried bay leaves, however, will stay good for several years if you keep them tightly sealed in a cool, dark place.Some laurel leaves are poisonous, however, and that’s likely contributed to the widely believed misconception that consuming them is dangerous.They’re incredibly stiff and, unlike other edible leaves, they don’t get a whole lot softer as they cook. .
Why Recipes Call For Bay Leaves Even Though They Have No
It’s one thing to sprinkle food with oregano or thyme, but sticking an entire leaf into a pot as it simmers might seem odd.Bay leaves have been grown around the world for centuries and used as a seasoning as well as essential oil and in traditional medicine applications for thousands of years.In a story entitled “The Vast Bay Leave Conspiracy” at the Awl, writer Kelly Conaboy laid into the tough little leaf that appears in so many recipes.MyRecipes senior editor Darcy Lenz told a writer there that this leaf’s flavor additions are subtle.Promising studies show that bay leaf extracts and capsules might help fight diseases such as cancer and diabetes and treat ailments such as kidney stones or seizure disorders.Dried leaves stored in a tightly sealed package can stay good for years when kept in a cool, dark spot. .
What Are Bay Leaves and How Are They Used?
The leaves are added to slow-cooked recipes, such as soups, sauces, and stews, and are removed before serving the dish.Most often, recipes call for dried bay leaves, which have a slightly stronger scent than fresh.The Turkish variety is the most common, with a more subtle flavor compared to California bay leaves, which have more potency and a slightly mint taste.Bay leaves have a long history, originating as an ornamental symbol of honor and success, and worn by Roman and Greek emperors, as well as Olympians, scholars, heroes, and poets.Because of this, two terms were created: baccalaureate, which is the reward for earning a bachelor's degree, meaning "berries of laurel," and poet laureate, an honor given by a government to someone to compose poems for special events.Many cooks believe that bay leaves don't contribute any taste at all while others find the herb adds a subtle depth of flavor.The leaves have sharp points that can cut the mouth, cause choking, or even slice into the digestive tract.Bay leaves should be added at the beginning of cooking as the longer they simmer, the more time they have to release flavor and allow it to infuse the dish.In addition to simmering in soups and stews, bay leaves are great for stuffing into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it, and can also be added to the liquid when cooking rice.Fresh bay leaves can be placed in a sealed zip-top bag and stored in the refrigerator where they will last for a week or two. .
The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavour until several weeks after picking and drying.Indian bay leaves are about twice as long and wider, usually olive green in colour and have three veins running the length of the leaf.Culinarily, Indian bay leaves are quite different, having a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon (cassia) bark, but milder., Lauraceae) differs from bay laurel leaves, which are shorter and light- to medium-green in colour, with one large vein down the length of the leaf.Indian bay leaves are about twice as long and wider, usually olive green in colour and have three veins running the length of the leaf.Culinarily, Indian bay leaves are quite different, having a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon (cassia) bark, but milder.leaf, , Myrtaceae) is not commonly found outside Indonesia; this herb is applied to meat and, less often, to vegetables., Myrtaceae) is used culinarily (especially in Caribbean cuisine) and to produce the cologne called bay rum.lauri folii), consisting of 45% eucalyptol, 12% other terpenes, 8-12% terpinyl acetate, 3–4% sesquiterpenes, 3% methyleugenol, and other α- and β-pinenes, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol, terpineol, and also contain lauric acid.When the leaf is dried, the aroma is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme.In the Philippines, dried bay laurel leaves are used in several Filipino dishes, such as menudo, beef pares, and adobo.The vapors they release kill insects slowly but effectively and keep the specimens relaxed and easy to mount.It certainly is rich in various essential oil components that could incapacitate insects in high concentrations; such compounds include 1,8-cineole, alpha-terpinyl acetate, and methyl eugenol. It also is unclear to what extent the alleged effect of cyanide released by the crushed leaves has been mis-attributed to Laurus nobilis in confusion with the unrelated Prunus laurocerasus, the so-called cherry laurel, which certainly does contain dangerous concentrations of cyanogenic glycocides together with the enzymes to generate the hydrogen cyanide from the glycocides if the leaf is physically damaged.To mark Jesus' destruction of Hades and freeing of the dead, parishioners throw bay leaves and flowers into the air, letting them flutter to the ground.However, they remain unpleasantly stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in large pieces they may pose a risk of harming the digestive tract or causing choking.The Canadian government requires that the bay leaves contain no more than 4.5% total ash material, with a maximum of 0.5% of which is insoluble in hydrochloric acid. .