Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Bay was native to the Mediterranean but is know grown throughout many parts of Europe and in the Americas. There are several varieties of bay though only one, L. nobilis, is used in the kitchen.
The fresh leaves are quite bitter tasting, when eating dried bay it gives a slight cooling sensation.
There is debate on whether these leaves should be used fresh or dried. They can be picked and left in a sunny spot for a couple of days until they lose their bitter flavour.
Bay leaves should be used in situations where there flavour can slowly release such as stocks and stews.
Bay has a sweet and balsamic aroma with scents of nutmeg.
Soups, stocks and marinades. Pairs well with beef, chicken, citrus, lentils and rice.
Growing Bay Tree
Best grown in a sunny sheltered position with fertile, well-drained soil. Can be used for topiary, but if left to its own devices can grow quite big.
Bay will survive well if grown potted, it can then be transported indoors in colder weather. The purple berries that the plant produces are not edible. Though the leaves can be picked and used all year round.
The Greeks and Romans saw bay as a symbol of wisdom and glory. Bays name has a meaning of being famous and renowned. The leaves were worn around crowns, honouring successful warriors. It was believed by Romans that bay trees were never struck by lightning. They would often carry a leaf in their mouths to protect them from contagious diseases like the plague.
It is believed that bay can decrease alcohol intoxication. A wash of bay has been used to soothe sunburns.
Facts About Bay
Bay leaves can be used in pantries and flour to ward off weevils or cockroaches. Simply crush some leaves around your pantry, or place a whole leaf in your flour.