Bay leaves (Bay Laurel) are now grown in several countries, but primarily in the Mediterranean and California. Mediterranean Bay leaves tend to have a milder flavor, more subtle and at the same time a more complex flavor than their California cousin. Bay leaves are almost always used in the dried form as the sweeter flavor develops as it dries.
Their flavor and fragrance have been described in many ways – piney, sweet, herbal, floral, and even with hints of nutmeg, allspice and clove. When crushed or ground, the fragrance is stronger as the essential oils are released.
Bay leaves pair well in many dishes from soups, stews, sauces and marinades to pickles, citrus fruits, tomatoes, lentils and rice. Delicious with beef, fish, seafood, lamb, game, poultry. Found in many Turkish and Moroccan dishes with beans, lentils or rice that are slowly cooked.
Often found in dishes that also use marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, savory or thyme. Because of its hints of clove, it also goes well with allspice or clove, even bringing out more of these flavors.
Add Bay Leaves early to the cooking or marinating process as it takes time for its flavor to fully develop. This is why they are often found in dishes that are roasted, braised or simmered. Bay leaves are used sparingly - generally only a few leaves are needed.
You should remove the leaves before serving as they are bitter and sharp if swallowed.