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Latest Articles - Luxury

Alexandrite a Gem for Kings

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Bay Leaf

Sunday, 03 January 2010

bay leafThe bay tree is native to Asia Minor, from where it spread to the Mediterranean and then to other countries with similar climates. Bay leaf is the general name for leaves of evergreen sub-tropical bush that grows in Albania, France, Greece, Spain and other warm countries with the marine climate. 

As we remember from Roman history, poets, emperors and heroes wore wreaths of laurel leaves. The Greek word for laurel stands for dhafni, named for the myth of the nymph Daphne, who was turned into a laurel tree by Gaea, who changed her to help her escape from Apollo. The tree became the symbol of honor which is still continued today; we have poet laureates while bacca-laureate means «laurel berries» to mean the completion of a bachelor degree. Doctors were also crowned with laurel leaves to consider a cure-all. Triumphant athletes living in ancient Greece were also awarded with laurel garlands which are given to Olympic Games winners since 776 BC. Yet, today, grand prix winners are festooned with laurel wreaths.

The leaves of this aromatic tree are used in cooking for many centuries by many cultures to give the dishes the unique aroma and taste.

The scientific name for this tree is Laurus nobilis L. or bay laurel. Being the relict plant that grew in the tertiary periods, the bay laurel lives till 400 years. The trunk of the bay tree is smooth with dark-grey rind, and the thick-branched crown is dark-green, coriaceous, mere, rigid, alternate, bare, smooth-edged leaves often of oval or lanceolate shape. The leaves are dark-green on the top, and the color is lighter in the bottom.

The typical taste of the bay leaf is given thanks to the aromatic oil contained in the leaves, bitter taste and tanning agents. And the bay leaf has specific bitter taste and weak spicy aroma.  Bay leaves are picked up in November to February, and after the leaves are dried in the shadow in thin layers. The quality bay leaf is the one that is appropriately dried, while the leaves are safe, elastic and of light-green color.

Grayish shade on the bay leaf is not allowed, and it happens because the leaves were wrongly dried. If dried properly, the bay leaf retains all useful properties after they are dried unlike many other plants.

The bay leaves dried are kept in the place away from the direct sunlight, in air-proof container or the closed package.

Aroma and taste of bay leaves are still wholesome and fresh within two years providing the drying process was made properly. Matte green or olive leaves are the sign of proper dry and storage. If the bay leaves get darker with brown tints, it is the sign that the leaves were stored for a long time and flavors reduced. The bitter taste of the bay leaf is quite specific, and experienced cooks recommend that you use this seasoning carefully in the small portions.

The bay leaf is put into the dish 10 to 15 minutes before it is ready, and then it is removed before you serve the table. The bay leaves may be used as ground leaves or crushed in a powder.

Te bay leaf is commonly used when cooking sour dishes, borsch, soups, roasting meat, cooking fish and stewing mushrooms.

The bay leaf is very often used in preservation purposes. The bay leaf gives the aromatic and favorable taste to pickles, sauces, bouquets garnis, and stews. When preserving the vegetables, one to two small leaves are enough for a single jar.

Bay leaf is also used to salting herring and pickling of vegetables. The wholesome feature of the bay leaf is that it is a good appetizer and digester. On the top of it, the bay leaf contains phytoncids that are favorable for the immune system.

Also the bay leaf is widely practiced as a folk remedy with the purpose to purify the organism, and clear it from waste and salts. Thanks to such a cleaning, a person feels better and the chronic fatigue fades. The extract of the bay leaf helps to remove pains in joints and significantly improves the health status of the person with the diabetes mellitus, helping the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels.

Thanks to the high concentration of tanning agents, the bay leaf helps to get rid of high foot perspiring. To achieve this, you need to take a foot baths two to three times a week adding some extract of bay leaf.

The aroma substances containing in the bay leaf are believed to inhibit development of the tubercle bacillus. Its aroma is a good means to remove moth, and various pests. The cooks often add the bay leaf into the jars with cereals or other food stuff to protect from other pests.

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