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The Bay Leaf has been a part of our relationship with food for as long as anyone can remember. Plucked from the Bay Laurel tree (Laurus nobilis), its leaves - whether dry or fresh - have been used for their fragrant and distinctive aromas by chefs the world over.
And while you could eat them whole if you chose, we tend to enjoy them more as a subtle enhancer of other flavours; allowed to diffuse into dishes over a slow cook; a canvas upon which to paint our meals if you will. Most frequently used to spice up stews, soups, braises and pâtés across Mediterranean cuisine, they are the backbone of a whole range of different delicious culinary choices .
Swanson 100% Certified Organic Bay Leaves are, like most of their kind, dried. The reason this is now considered common practice is because fresh Bay leaves are actually very mild and tend not to develop their full flavours until several weeks after drying. Similar in smell to thyme and oregano, the Bay leaf is also quite commonly used for the essential oil Myrcene, which can be used to make perfume.
Swanson 100% Certified Organic Bay Leaves allows you to keep all those flavours and aromas in your pantry, available for use anytime you want.
The first mistake most people make with Bay Leaves is to assume that they are flavourless. Because they don't consume or overwhelm any dish like a coriander or a rosemary might, lots of us are left wondering just what the point of the Bay Leaf is. A simple way to better understand this misunderstood spice is to add a little to a pan of simmering hot water and allow the flavours to diffuse autonomously.
What you should find is that initially, the leaves will give off an almost medicinal smell. Whiffs of menthol and eucalyptus will swim over you as though you had desperately rubbed whem into your chest. That's actually the chemical Eugenol and amongst the 50 odd compounds in a Bay Leaf, it is arguably the most dominant.
If you then allow the leaves to cook for another 45mins to an hour (as long as you might cook a stew or casserole) and you should find those flavours have mellowed and acquiesced to lighter, more complex tea-like notes. And while these will never be the dominant tastes a lot of us crave, they still play an integral role in creating a more overall flavour. Much as a pinch of black pepper might, this seasoning will play wonders with the other constituents for your dish and provide a canvas upon which you can cook any number of meals.
Use at your will. You only need a couple of leaves in any dish. Add to stews, casseroles or bologneses to slow cook so that the flavours can diffuse properly. Remove leaves before eating.Special Precautions
Store in a cool dry place. Suitable for freezing.
Do not take if the outer seal is broken or damaged upon purchase.
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