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The Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis) is an aromatic member of Laurel family. Native to Asia minor, cultivation of the Bay Leaf spread through the Mediterranean and areas with similar warm climates.
The Bay Leaf has a long history of cultural, culinary and medicinal uses in many cultures. Highly prized in ancient Greece and Rome, the Bay Leaf was considered a symbol of accolade and used to adorn Emperors and poets, as well as triumphant warriors and athletes. References to it even appear in mythology.
In terms of culinary applications, the Bay Leaf is quite versatile when used for food seasonings. The warm scent becomes quite noticeable when the leaf is broken, releasing its fragrant oils. The Bay Leaf's flavor is slightly bitter and highly aromatic. Commonly used in soup, stew or sauce seasonings, the Bay Leaf can make foods with long cooking times quite flavorful. It's distinctive taste also makes it a good choice for pickling spice. It may be used singularly or with other organic herbs and spices as part of a bouquets garnis. When whole leaves are used, be sure to remove from the food before serving.
To prolong the leaf's flavor, store in a cool, dry location away from sunlight. In an airtight container under these conditions, bay leaves may retain their flavor for up to six months to two years for the best flavor.