Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.
If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many Essential Oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. They also contain the essential oil eugenol.
A fresh, good quality product has an attractive green color, especially on the top of the leaf, and contains few fragments. Leaves which have been stored for too long are yellowish-brown, brittle and include fragments.
While fresh leaves are seldom available in markets today, dried bay leaves have become one of the most commonly used herbs in American kitchens and cuisines around the world. The leaves impart a delicate aromatic scent and a sweet, but mildly bitter flavor.
Bay leaves are used as an additive in food preparation and in pharmaceutics. The spicy flavor is attributable to the content of essential oils, especially cineole. Bay leaves are used in particular to season meat (e.g. game), fish dishes, sauces, fish marinades and pickled vegetables.
Shipment / Storage
Bay leaves are usually transported in cartons and jute fabric bales. Standard containers may be used, subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring.
Provided that the recommended storage conditions are complied with, bay leaves may be kept for up to 24 months; otherwise they loose their flavor quickly.
Favorable travel temperature range: 5 – 25°C.
If the product is at “shipping dryness”, it does not have to be ventilated during transport. However, if the water content does not meet these guidelines, the recommended ventilation conditions are 6 air changes/hour (airing).
In order to avoid formation of mold, the stowage space should be cool, dry and, most particularly, easy to ventilate.
- Moisture/mould damage
- Mechanical damage (fragile)
- An elevated moisture content and excessively high temperatures create a risk of self-heating.
- Bay leaves may be infested by rats, mice and beetles (in particular drugstore beetles, hump spider beetles, Australian spider beetles and golden spider beetles) and moths (dried fruit and cacao moths) and mites.