A fixture in many European cuisines (particularly around the Mediterranean), the Americas and Asia. Bay leaves are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes.
Bay leaves are often used dry – but like most herbs, the fresh leaf has more flavour. They are typically used whole in casseroles, stews, and as a garnish – then removed before eating. Alternatively, the leaves may be crushed or powdered.
Bay leaf is especially prominent in French
and Italian cuisine. It’s a component of the famous bouquet garni and many other Mediterranean dishes. Other varieties of bay leaf are traditionally used in Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Philippine and West Indian cookery; these are close in flavour, but not identical, to the European variety.
Bay leaves are a source of several essential oils including Myrcene and Eugenol. Leaves stood in a jar are sometimes used as an insect trap: just stand a few leaves in an open jar and see if it works for you!