Cooking with Fresh Bay Leaves
If you spend money on dried bay leaves you might as well just start saving your leaf harvest in your yard as the flavors of those great mulch leaves is comparable to dried bay. There is no fresh herb that has a more dramatic taste sensation than using fresh bay versus dried bay....
Fresh bay is distinctively different than what you find with other herbs. I always tell people that dried bay is about as delectable as dried oak leaves, maple leaves, dogwood leaves etc. In other words if you have to use dried bay then in my opinion best to use some other dried herb in place of.
I say this because fresh bay is wonderful and imparts the richest, warmest flavors of Greece into your dishes. Our video gives you more information on how to use in cooking, but Bay is a wonderful tree/bush that will repay you many times over with it's rich culinary uses. Also my reference point for dried bay is that of one purchasing a small jar of bay leaves in the local grocer and the leaf is crinkly, breaks into pieces easily, and has zilch on aroma. The brittleness and breaking is simply because of a lack of water/oil content and without moisture then the leaf becomes that way.
Many people break off a branch from their bay tree ( could be bay bush depending on how you let it grow ) and create a culinary wreath and hang in their homes so when bay is needed simply remove few leaves and insert. The key is to use the leaves as long as when you touch them you smell the aroma of the bay leaf itself. If you can not smell the aroma then the chances of having enough oil in the leaf to impart flavor is extremely limited.
Bay is one of the herbs that can be put into an Italian sauce in the beginning and left in for the entire simmering process. It is so rich and the oil is not so volatile that the leaf will impart flavor throughout the cooking process and not be eliminated by the heat and vaporization during the cooking process, unlike basil.
My best test for determining if you like fresh bay is to simply bake a chicken breast with the fresh bay inserted between the skin and the meat, then placing the breast down so the bay leaf is on the bottom of pan, next to heat. As the oil evaporates it will enter the meat and upon cutting you will smell and taste the oils of Sweet Bay. You might want to also drizzle some fresh lemon juice on the breast also for a healthy delightful Mediterranean treat.
- Written by Bob Johnson
- Category: Herb Recipes
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