3 Ways to Use Laurel Leaves

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3 Ways to Use Laurel Leaves
3 Ways to Use Laurel Leaves
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The laurel leaf is a type of aromatic leaf that comes from several trees and shrubs of the Lauraceae family (known by the name of laurel). Due to its special flavor, it is often used in recipes for stews, such as soups, stews and sauces. However, the bay leaf has also had (and has) many other uses throughout history, including as an insect repellent, air freshener, and even a medicine.

Steps

Method 1 of 3: Using Bay Leaf in Cooking

Step 1. Use dehydrated bay leaves in cooking

This is a case where most chefs recommend using dry (not fresh) leaves. The reason for this preference is that the fresh bay leaf is picked from a different tree (Umbellularia californica). Although both look similar, the fresh leaf taste is more astringent and minty and doesn't go well with many foods.

  • Fresh bay leaf is quite green and has a more flexible texture than dehydrated bay leaf.
  • The bay leaf sold in the grocery store's spice aisles is already dehydrated, so you don't have to worry about accidentally buying the wrong kind.

Step 2. Put bay leaves in recipes that take longer to cook

The next time you make a beef, bean or pasta stew, try adding 1 or 2 whole bay leaves. They release flavor little by little as they heat up, making longer recipes perfect for the bay leaf to give off the air of grace.

  • Use only whole sheets. Bay leaf shouldn't be eaten, and it's harder to get it off the plate later if it's crushed or broken into pieces.
  • Putting some bay leaves in the pot, minced meat, rice, couscous or risotto is also a great option.
Use Bay Leaves Step 2

Step 3. Use bay leaf to add a more developed flavor to soups, stews and sauces

Simmering is another interesting way to release the bitter, woody, and slightly herbal notes from the smaller leaves. The secret, in this case, is to put the laurel together with a lot of liquid, which serves as the basis for an aromatic infusion.

It is possible to throw 1 or 2 bay leaves into any mix you like. However, the seasoning goes better with marinades, bechamel sauce and curry

Tip:

for a more traditional touch, try making a garni bouquet (or bouquet of scents), which is a classic French-style way of flavoring using several fresh or dried herbs at the same time.

Use Bay Leaves Step 3

Step 4. Cook fresh food in water or steam with bay leaf

Add 2 or 3 leaves to the water you are going to use to cook fresh vegetables, roots, vegetables, fish or seafood. Laurel gives a more elaborate flavor to the dish, without leaving a strong taste or modifying the delicate taste of these foods.

Feel free to add bay leaves and other spices you like, such as lemon, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger, or fresh herbs, into the cooking water

Step 5. Don't overdo the amount

A single bay leaf gives enough flavor. In general, it is best not to exceed 2 or 3 sheets per recipe. If you stick to it, you can end up spoiling the flavor of the dish, as the laurel dominates and cancels out other foods.

This recommendation is even more valid for recipes with bitter, smoked or musky ingredients

Use Bay Leaves Step 4

Step 6. Remove the bay leaves as soon as the dish is ready

Remember the number of leaves you put in the pan to remove them all before serving the meal. Laurel is a great seasoning, but the leaf is not tasty. That's why it's better to use whole leaves rather than small pieces.

  • Warn guests to keep an eye out for any lost leaf in the food if you can't find it in the pan.
  • Unlike many other herbs, bay leaf remains hard even after cooking for many hours at high temperatures. For this reason, it can pose a risk of someone choking or even cutting themselves with the leaf if they accidentally swallow it.

Method 2 of 3: Discovering Other Uses for Laurel

Step 1. Spread bay leaves around the kitchen to ward off common pests

Leave some dried leaves on pantry shelves or near dry food containers to keep away rats, ants, flies, cockroaches, weevils, and other unwanted creatures. The strong aroma of laurel makes it a versatile herb that also works as a good natural repellent for small pests.

  • Crushing or grinding the bay leaves enhances the aroma, which can increase its effectiveness as a repellent.
  • You can even put some bay leaves inside the flour or grain jar if you suspect intruders.
Use Bay Leaves Step 5

Step 2. Add bay leaves to a homemade flavoring

Add 6 to 8 whole bay leaves to a pan along with slices of orange and fresh lemon, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Cover the ingredients with water and bring them to a boil over low heat. As the water heats up, it fills the house with a warm, comforting fragrance.

  • The steam from the boil is ideal for providing a feeling of freshness during afternoon tea, parties and other gatherings.
  • You can also mix the whole dried bay leaf with other sweet-smelling herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, cardamom, allspice and pine to create a dry, smoother flavor.

Step 3. Try some bay tea to improve health

For millennia, different cultures around the world have used laurel in the treatment of a series of ailments. If you decide to experiment, infuse 3 to 5 leaves in 500 ml of hot water for about 20 minutes. Then pour the infusion into a mug and drink. If you prefer, add a cinnamon stick or the juice of 1 or 2 lemons to improve the flavor.

  • Bay leaf teas and infusions are known to aid digestion, reduce flatulence, improve breathing, soothe pain and even lessen the symptoms of diabetes.
  • If the idea of ​​drinking bay tea doesn't appeal to you, buy an essential oil and use it as a topical treatment.

Warning:

there is no study that supports the action of laurel, so if you decide to use it as an alternative treatment, take the risks.

Method 3 of 3: Drying and Storing Fresh Bay Leaves

Use Bay Leaves Step 1

Step 1. Dry freshly picked bay leaves outdoors to enhance the taste naturally

Wrap the green leaves in a paper towel and place the package inside a zip-lock plastic bag, storing in a cool, dry place. In approximately three to five days, you will have a batch of dehydrated bay leaves, ready to be used however you need them, whether in the kitchen or not.

Obviously, you can take the shortest route and buy a packet of dried bay leaves at any supermarket if you don't want to go to the trouble of drying them

Tip:

a good place to dehydrate fresh leaves is in a dark corner of the pantry or in an unused drawer in the cupboard, away from main kitchen utensils.

Step 2. Dry the fresh leaves in the oven to save time

Place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Use the oven at the lowest temperature for three to four hours or until the leaves turn a paler, browner color and become brittle. The hot air that constantly circulates in the oven helps to speed up the dehydration process a bit.

  • Leave the oven door open a crack to allow more moisture to escape.
  • A dehydrator is also a nice option. For best results, turn the machine on at 35 °C to 45 °C and leave the sheets inside for four to six hours.

Step 3. Store the fresh leaves in the refrigerator until it is time to dehydrate them

Wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a zip-lock plastic bag. Put the bag in the vegetable drawer so the leaves stay fresh and dry.

  • Once properly packaged and chilled, bay leaves last for a week or two, just like other fresh leaves.
  • Label the bag for easy identification.

Step 4. Store unused leaves in the freezer to make them last longer

Want to maximize laurel life? Nothing better than freezing it. Take it out of its original packaging and place it in a zip-lock plastic bag or airtight container in the freezer, where it can stay until ready to be used in a recipe.

  • Freezing preserves the laurel's flavor and aroma for years or even, who knows, forever.
  • Regardless of the storage method chosen, it is important to ensure that the laurel leaves are exposed to as little heat, light and moisture as possible.

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