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Bay Leaf or Laurel, Wonderful For Culinary Dishes

The bay leaf from a Bay Or Laurel Tree dates back to the Greeks and Romans. It is also one of Europe's oldest herbs. The trees are evergreen, and native to Asia and Mediterranean countries.

These trees are also grown in South and Central America, as well as the southern United States. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia have these trees in many herb and specialty gardens. Herbee and I would even recommend planting a couple of these tree specimens.

Bay or Laurel Leaf

The unique aroma of each leaf will provide you with a wonderful smell throughout the year.

There is a larger version of the Laurel that grows in California. In Greece, they grow one of the largest trees of this plant family. It can reach fifty five to sixty feet and takes on a warm and tropical look.

Here are a couple of different ways to cultivate Bay or Sweet Laurel. Find a special spot in your landscape or garden area and plant the tree. The tree is a wonderful focal point in an herb garden. Each leaf produces a unique scent to any outdoor area.

Even though this tree is an evergreen to many locations, in the United States, extra caution should be taken north of Georgia. This is due to the colder winter months. Mulching in the winter will help hold moisture in, as well as insulating the tree.

Another option, especially in cooler climates, is to put the tree in a tub container and put the tub in a garden. The potting soil should be rich in loam, peat moss, sand and fertilizer. Organic mushroom compost or cow manure are great ingredients. The tub can be placed in the garden after the last frost. In the south it is usually around the beginning to middle of April. May in the colder climates.

The soil must be kept moist at all times. When autumn arrives and the threat of the first frost, the Bay or Laurel plant must be brought into a greenhouse or sheltered area. The temperature should not go below 36° to 38°F. This plant specimen doesn't do well in a home environment. It needs moist conditions and the air in most homes is too dry.

Now comes the great part of the bay leaf, harvesting it for culinary purposes. Most herbs should be picked in the early morning, as this is when they are at their peak in flavor and aroma. Put the leaves on a cloth or screen and let them dry out, but don't allow them to get completely dried out.

These leaves should be dried in a warm and shady place. Once the leaves have dried, cover them with a clean cloth and apply pressure to the leaves using a board. Do this for around ten days to two weeks, as this will prevent the leaves from curling. After this time frame, put the leaves in an air tight container and use them when needed.

Bay leaf can be used in so many different culinary dishes. The leaves are used in many Italian sauces and any type of tomato based sauce. I first learned this many years ago from my mother-in-law. She always put bay leaves in any tomato sauce.

The leaves are wonderful in soups, such as vegetable. Take a bay leaf or Laurel and crush it or cut it up finely. Sprinkle it over your favorite fresh fish, roast, stew, salad, or stuffing. The bitter flavor gives any dish a unique taste. Combining other sweet herbs such as Basil will give food a distinct flavor. I keep Bay or Laurel leaves in the kitchen year around.

Many gourmet chefs use it daily in a variety of dishes. A little tip for those cooking with this plant specimen. Whether it be for your family, friends or a dinner party, if you put the leaves in whole, remember to take them out before serving. I have forgotten to do this on occasion. You can also use the wood from the tree for an aromatic flavor in smoked foods.

The essential oil is used in a variety of different perfumes. There is also some medicinal value to the leaves from a Bay or Laurel tree. It aids in digestion with certain dishes when used in a bouquet garni or a marinade. The oil can be used for arthritic pain as well as boiled leaves to relieve cold and bronchitis symptoms.


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Always check with a professional before using the Bay or Laurel for any ingestion or medicinal purposes.

Bay or Laurel can be incorporated in a variety and styles of gardens and landscapes. They provides a great aroma outside in a garden as well as giving culinary dishes a great flavor.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Evergreen Plants --- Herb Vinegars

Mulch And Other Options --- Other Spices Besides Bay Leaf



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