When you cook adobo, menudo or even tomato-based pasta sauce in the Philippines, it is customary to add a piece or two of bay leaf.I remember once, long ago, when commenting was still on in all my blogs, I posted a recipe with photos, the recipe ingredients included laurel and a reader commented, quite indignantly, that the photo showed bay leaves and not laurel.You add it to soups and stews, and it imparts a subtly floral fragrance.In fact, when added to food during cooking, the bay leaf which has already served its purpose of adding fragrance to the food, is usually removed and discarded before the dish is served.So, how do you tell if the packet of bay leaves you just bought is, in fact, laurel?You won’t be using an entire packet for a single dish because you only need a piece or two.For best results, drop a piece of silica gel in the jar with the bay leaves.The silica gel will absorb moisture that will prevent molds from forming. .
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. .
How to Grow and Care for Bay Laurel Trees
It features shiny, dark green oval-shaped leaves with a leathery texture that are popularly used as a kitchen seasoning.Highly prized as an ornamental, L. nobilis is often trimmed into topiary shapes, and the trunks can be trained into braids and spirals.And their beautiful glossy leaves make a handsome, long-lasting addition to bouquets of cut flowers and seasonal arrangements like Christmas wreaths and swags.Steeped in history and myth, wreaths of L.
nobilis have been used to symbolize victory, personal achievement, and social status since antiquity.As far back as 776 BC, ancient Greeks used the leaves to crown the victors of athletic competitions, the precursors of the modern Olympic games.This idea carried into the Roman era, when emperors wore a wreath like a crown to denote their divine lineage.And during the Renaissance, after doctors completed their final examinations, they were adorned with berries and branches of bay – from which we get the word “baccalaureate.”.Use a soil richly amended with organic compost or well-rotted manure, adding extra grit to improve drainage and plant stability.And in areas with harsh winters, plant in containers and bring indoors to a bright, cool room or tuck into a sheltered spot, covering with burlap to protect from prolonged freezing temperatures.Pruning requirements depend on whether your bay has been trained as a topiary, grown as a shrub, or allowed to mature into a full-sized tree.For those you’d like to maintain as more manageable shrubs, cut back to lower leaves or buds as desired, and trim away any low-trunk branches and suckers.With regular clipping and training when the tree is young, the dark green foliage and stems can be sculpted into a variety of formal shapes to make an excellent patio or garden accent.Sow into small containers of light, loamy soil and place in a sheltered location or a cold frame until the second spring, when they can be planted out.Leaves can be used dried, fresh, or frozen to season fish, meat, poultry, sauces, soups, stews, grains, and roasted vegetables.Fresh or frozen, they can be used to add subtle flavor to cretons, fish, pates, poaching liquids, risottos, and sausages.Where to Buy For the home garden, there are only a few true bay cultivars to choose from: L. nobilis is the most popular, commonly cultivated for culinary and ornamental purposes.Apply a general-purpose fertilizer to containers every two weeks until August to improve nutrient content of the soil, always ensure they have adequate drainage, and prune damaged wood in spring.Attractive in garden beds or containers, bay laurel is a wonderfully versatile tree that adds visual interest to the landscape all year long – and it will make a delicious addition to your cooking! .
Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glabrous (smooth) leaves.Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called "bay" or "laurel", generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis.The laurel is an evergreen shrub or small tree, variable in size and sometimes reaching 7–18 m (23–59 ft) tall.Laurus nobilis is a widespread relict of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid.With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today.Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, the Canary Islands and in Madeira.Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavoring.One of the most important pests affecting ornamental laurels is caused by Trioza alacris (Triozidae), which induces the curling and thickening of the edge of the leaves for the development of the insect's nymphs, eventually creating a necrosed gall. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder listed a variety of conditions which laurel oil was supposed to treat: paralysis, spasms, sciatica, bruises, headaches, catarrhs, ear infections, and rheumatism.In Daphne's place Gaia left a laurel tree, from which Apollo fashioned wreaths to console himself. Other versions of the myth, including that of the Roman poet Ovid, state that Daphne was transformed directly into a laurel tree.According to the poet Lucian, the priestess of Apollo known as the Pythia reputedly chewed laurel leaves from a sacred tree growing inside the temple to induce the enthusiasmos (trance) from which she uttered the oracular prophecies for which she was famous. Some accounts starting in the fourth century BC describe her as shaking a laurel branch while delivering her prophecies.Thus, the laurels had the dual purpose of advertising Augustus' victory in the Civil Wars and his close association with Apollo.It was taken as an omen of the impending end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty that in the reign of Nero the entire grove died, shortly before he was assassinated.An early Chinese etiological myth for the phases of the moon involved a great forest or tree which quickly grew and lost its leaves and flowers every month.After the Sui and Tang dynasties, this was sometimes connected to a woodsman named Wu Gang, sentenced to cut at a self-repairing tree as a punishment for varying offenses.By the Qing dynasty, the chengyu "pluck osmanthus in the Toad Palace" (蟾宫折桂, Chángōng zhé guì) meant passing the imperial examinations, which were held around the time of the lunar festival.The similar association in Europe of laurels with victory and success led to its translation into Chinese as the 月桂 or "Moon gui".The laurel leaves in the coat of arms of Kaskinen, Finland (Swedish: Kaskö) may have been meant to refer to local flowering, but its origin may also be in the name of the family Bladh (Swedish: blad; ‘leaf’); two members of the family - a father and a son - acquired both town rights and the status of staple town for the village at the time.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, and terpineol. .
How to Grow and Care for Bay Laurel
Common Name Bay laurel, laurel, laurel tree, bay tree, Botanical Name Laurus nobilis Family Lauraceae Plant Type Broadleaf evergreen shrub or tree Mature Size 10–60 ft. tall, 5–20 ft. wide; container plants generally kept pruned to 4–6 ft.
Sun Exposure Full, partial Soil Type Average, moist, well-drained garden soil; general potting mix for potted plants Soil pH Acidic to alkaline (4.5–8.3) Bloom Time Late spring to early summer Flower Color Pale yellow Hardiness Zones 8–10 (USDA) Native Area Mediterranean Toxicity Toxic to dogs, cats, horses.Bay laurel can be grown as a pruned garden shrub or full-sized single- or- multi-stemmed landscape tree in average, well-drained soil.Potted bay laurel plants are often moved between indoor and outdoor locations as the seasonal weather dictates.Bay laurel plants make attractive houseplants, but they benefit from some extra outdoor heat and light in the summer.Because bay laurel is slow-growing, it doesn’t require a great deal of food when grown outdoors in the landscape.Feed a container-grown bay plant in the spring and again in mid-summer, using a balanced organic fertilizer, such as fish emulsion and kelp.It also helps to refresh the top few inches of soil each spring, being careful not to damage the shallow roots.It’s very important that you grow plants labeled Laurus nobilis if you plan to use the leaves for cooking and eating.Laurus nobilis f. angustifolia: Also known as willow-leaf laurel, the narrow leaves of this cultivar are prized for their attractive texture when the tree is pruned.Pruning is best done when the tree is not actively growing, perhaps in late winter to early spring before new growth emerges.There is little technique involved in pruning a bay laurel, as the plant will sprout new dense growth from wherever you snip off the branches.Bay laurel is relatively easy to propagate by taking softwood cuttings and rooting them, but this is a slow-growing plant, so be patient.Fill small pots with coarse, moist sand, then dip the tip of each cutting into rooting hormone, then plant it in its container.At this point, the plastic bags can be removed and you can continue growing the cutting until it's large enough for a permanent pot or an outdoor garden location.Place the seed tray in a location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight and a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.After the seeds sprout, wait until the plants develop their first true leaves before transplanting them into larger pots.Bay laurel seems to grow best when it's a little cramped in its pot, even to the point of roots starting to poke out the bottom.Potted plants grown outdoors for the summer should be brought indoors as temperatures begin to dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit on a frequent basis.A plant that grows fine in a partial shade outdoor location will want more sunlight in the winter—give it a sunny window or patio door.Any number of other pests common to indoor houseplants can also affect bay laurel plants, especially mealybugs and spider mites, both of which are best treated with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.Remove affected leaves with sterilized pruners, and treat the soil with a fungicide (anthracnose is an internal infection).Replacing the top 2 inches of potting soil each year will prevent the fungal spores from persisting.Early symptoms include the appearance of dark, gummy streaks on the bark, usually low on the stems.It is quite normal for a bay laurel plant to drop some leaves shortly after it is moved indoors from an outdoor location.If the leaf drop is also accompanied by spotting on the leaves, the plant might have a foliar fungus that needs treating with fungicide.Most common with landscape specimens but also possible with potted plants, a bay laurel that shows cracking or peeling bark might be suffering from rapid changes in moisture levels or temperatures. .
Can You Eat Bay Leaves?
Bay leaves are a common herb that many cooks use when making soups and stews or braising meats.The leaves can be bitter if you bite into one, but when you add them to a slow-cooking recipe, such as a soup or stew, they impart a rich, herbal, woodsy flavor and aroma to your dish.Shiny and dark green when fresh, bay leaves turn more of an olive color when dried ( 1 , 3 ).They don’t have a particularly good taste if you eat them plain, but if you use them during cooking, they can add a nice herbal flavor to your dish.Main reason to remove them Interestingly, lab studies on the essential oils in bay leaves have found that they may be toxic to some harmful pathogens, including certain strains of bacteria and fungus ( 3 , 5).The biggest danger from eating bay leaves is that you could choke or get one stuck somewhere in your digestive system.If you’re using smaller pieces of bay leaves, try putting them in a tea infuser for easier removal.Bay leaves are also a classic ingredient in a seasoning blend called “bouquet garni,”which is French for “garnished bouquet.” It’s a bundle of herbs that’s tied together with a string and added to a stock or sauce to boost the flavor.summary Adding fresh or dried bay leaves to your cooking liquid can enhance the flavor of your dish. .
Health Benefits of Bay Leaves
Bay leaves add a complex flavor to dishes, and are a key staple in many soups and sauces.Sometimes people use the term "bay leaf" to refer to other varieties of leaves from similar trees.Since the other types of bay leaves come from other tree species, they have slightly different flavors and nutritional properties. .
Laurel Bay Leaf
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