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Common Names: Bay Laurel, Sweet Bay, True Laurel
Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis
Bay Leaves, there are two popular types — Mediterranean and Californian.
The Mediterranean is milder in flavor. Bay leaves are usually used dry to reduce some of their bitterness, but can be used fresh too. Commonly used in classic chicken soup, some compounds in bay leaves may help relieve upset stomachs.
But… Bay leaves offer us a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, and iron. Apart from their culinary uses, they have medicinal properties and are known for their anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and astringent qualities. They also have the property of repelling flies, moths, mice etc. Add a leaf to your flour, and corn meal to repel insects. Grow in large pots so it can be kept small and you can bring indoors during winter. Plant in ground in a well drained area.
Taste: Woody, sweet, citrusy, nutty
Perfect For: Soups, stews, and sautéed dishes.
Preparation Methods: Bay leaves are dried and used in cooking, mainly to flavor meats and stews. Bay leaves can be taken in tea, used in herbal baths, and infused in oils. The leaves are the source of the distilled essential oil and is used topically to relieve pain.
To dry fresh leaves, simply spread leaves on a paper towel without touching out of direct sunlight. They will dry in a few days. Turn once a day for even drying.
Lisa Ray, Herbalist
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