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Is The Bay Leaf Necessary? We Say YES

10 February 2023
by Giadzy
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Yes, you should add the bay leaf - and here's our case for why!

The importance of bay leaves is an ever-discussed topic among chefs and home-cooks alike. Does one single bay leaf in a gallon of liquid really make a difference? Is it necessary? It's understandable that such a humble little leaf would arouse such skepticism, but here's our case for why you should go ahead and add it.

It's true that if you open a package of dried bay leaves, you're not going to be hit over the head with a strong aroma in the same way you would with rosemary or oregano. This is because the flavor needs to be coaxed out and extracted through simmering - it takes a bit of time for the bay leaf to give what it wants to give. 

beans with bay leaves

How To Cook Italian Beans

 

What the bay leaf offers to soups, stews and braises is important on a fundamental flavor level. These slow-simmering foods tend to err on the side of tasting very heavy, and the bay leaf is the foil to that problem. It has a slightly pine, eucalyptus-type flavor which might not sound enticing on its own, but it gives dishes an herbaceous lightness that creates balance. While you might not be able to pinpoint bay leaf flavor in a sip of soup, you'll notice when it's not there. It gives soups and stews that oomph! 

The caveat is that a bay leaf will not lend much flavor if it's years and years old. If you've got an old jar collecting dust in your spice cabinet, go ahead and replace it to level up your cooking. May we suggest organic Sicilian bay leaves, still on the vine? Herbs from Sicily have a reputation for being incredibly aromatic, and bay leaves are no exception. Bay leaves come from an Mediterranean tree called the bay laurel tree, which are native to Sicily - it's sure to convert any bay leaf skeptic!

Bay Leaves

Organic Sicilian Bay Leaves

 

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