Bay Leaves have a long and noble history. The ancient Romans and Greeks used to make crowns out of true Bay Leaves (Laurus Nobilis, Lauraceae) to crown great and accomplished people. These great people usually included kings, war heroes and Olympians.
Bay leaf not only has medicinal properties but is also used in cooking. The freshly dried bay leaves have a warm aroma, which is infused into cooking. The leaf is crushed before being used. It is used for flavouring stews, dishes that need a long time to cook and soups. However, it is removed from the dish before serving.
Medicinally, the leaves of the Laurus Nobilis tree, also known as Sweet Laurel, have been used since the ancient times to treat problems associated with the liver, stomach and kidney. Today we use them for:
- Coughs and Colds – Placing a cloth soaked in water in which bay leaves have been boiled provides relief from cough, cold, bronchitis and chest infections.
- Digestion – Bay leaves are used for treatment of digestive disorders. They reduce flatulence.
How You Can Use Bay Leaves
The bittersweet, spicy leaves impart their pungent flavour to a variety of dishes and ingredients, making bay a versatile store cupboard ingredient. It’s also one of the few herbs that doesn’t lose its flavour when dried. I tend to use it a lot in curries, soups and rice dishes along with cinnamon and cloves.