Bay Laurel

Ingredients

  • Organic Bay Leaves

Origin​

  • Turkey

Form

  • Leaf

Certification

  • Organic, Kosher

Typical Use

  • Spring and Summer with soups, Fall and Winter with stews

Background

  • Bay Laurel, the noblest of herbs. Victors in ancient Greece wore the Laurel wreath on their heads as the reward for winning. It originated in the Mediterranean room where the laurel trees covered most of the region before the pleiocene area (3-5 million years ago). Our Bay Leaves are of the Mediterranean variety versus Indian Bay Leaf (Tej Patta). They can be substituted but have a slightly different flavor (the Indian variety has notes of cinnamon, cloves, cassia and is used widely as part of the Garam Masala spice mix).

Cooking

  • Bay laurel is one of the few herbs or spices that is typically used during cooking but not eaten (i.e. removed before serving). 
     

In the words of Alex Delany of Bon Appetit (https://www.bonappetit.com/story/bay-leaves-taste): "There are a lot of haters out there who think that bay leaves are pointless, a flavorless addition to soups and sauces." And those people are wrong. Bay leaves have flavor. We promise.
 

If you smell a dried bay leaf, you might not get as much aroma as you would with a pinch of dried basil or thyme. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t flavor there. 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. They add a subtle bitterness that keeps heavy soups and stews from being so, well, heavy. Are you going to be able to pick that flavor out of all the other complex flavors present in a bite of beef stew? Probably not. But would you miss it if it wasn't there? Yes. While the flavor of things like chiles and many dried herbs & spices shout, the flavor of the bay leaf whispers.

Cultural​

  • The classical legend of bay leaves origin was Daphne's transformation into the laurel tree during her pursuit by Apollo. Versions vary; one infers that the nymph Daphne was a fiercely independent, rather wild creature and rather than give herself to Apollo, she pleaded with her father, the river god Ladonas, to transform her. Another account indicates that Apollo was wounded by an arrow of Eros (Cupid) and fell madly in love with Daphne, who fled from his advances and was changed into the slender bay laurel moments before her capture. All agree that Apollo was so astounded by the tree's beauty that he claimed the laurel as his own and dedicated it to reward the highest achievements of Greek civilization. The leaves were made into wreaths for illustrious poets and the ancients used them to crown heroes. 
     

As bay is a narcotic and stimulant in large amounts, it was an important part of the Delphic rites. Apollo's priestesses chewed bay before prophesying. Later, even placing bay leaves beneath pillows was thought to bring prescient dreams.

​Spiritual

  • Christians believe that bay symbolizes the resurrection of Christ, and bay leaves are often used to symbolize this event. In the Bible, bay leaves are a symbol of prosperity, honor, and fame.

 

The 'tulsi' plant or Indian basil is an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition. The name 'tulsi' connotes "the incomparable one". Tulsi is a venerated plant and Hindus worship it in the morning and evening. Tulsi grows wild in the tropics and warm regions. Dark or Shyama tulsi and light or Rama tulsi are the two main varieties of basil, the former possessing greater medicinal value. Of the many varieties, the Krishna or Shyama tulsi is commonly used for worship. More info here - https://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/why-tulsi-is-a-sacred-plant-in-hinduism/152416

 

In the magic world, bay leaves have a long history of use in Warding Off Evil. Many people carry bay leaves in mojo bags to stop interference by unwanted people. They place dried bay leaves in each corner of a room to avoid being jinxed. especially if they are doing a bad job on someone else. Some folks make bay leaves into a tea and add it to their regular floor wash to get rid of jinxes. Dried bay leaves can also be used as a floor sweep by sprinkling them onto the floor and then sweeping them out the front door.

Medicinal​

  • Bay leaves are considered to have probable anti-cancer properties, the ability to detoxify the body and protect it from bacterial infections, slow the aging process, speed wound healing, and manage diabetes. It also helps improve heart health, reduce inflammation, alleviate respiratory issues, and optimize digestion. These possible health benefits are attributed to bay leaves from the laurel tree, not other "bay leaves".

Recipes

traditional Italian pasta and bean soup - https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/pastaefagioli_92269
 

pork chops - https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/pork-chops-marinated-with-bay-leaves-lemon
 

traditional coq au vin - https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018529-coq-au-vin?action=click&module=Local%20Search%20Recipe%20Card&pgType=search&rank=4

 

Shop​

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Copyright © 2019 Five Continent Spices

Santa Cruz, CA, United States

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