Bay Leaves come from the Bay Tree which can grow up to 33 feet tall in some climates. The leaves are typically 2-4 inches long, and oblong in shape. Younger leaves are lighter in color, while older more mature leaves have a deeper green and tend to be a little leathery. These older leaves have a better aroma and flavor as compared to the young leaves.
The Bay tree is native to Asia Minor and is mainly cultivated in the Mediterranean. Some of the highest quality bay leaves come from Turkey, which is where our stock is imported. Surprisingly, dry bay leaves are much better than fresh leaves as the drying process removes bitterness and leaves the rich volatile oils which are later easily infused into a number of dishes while cooking.
Bay leaves were revered and treasured by the Ancient Romans. According to legend, Augustus Caesar wore a garland of bay leaves to protect himself from lightening. Victorious soldiers and winners of death defying contests, such as chariot races, were crowned with a laurel of bay leaves.
Bay leaves add wonderful flavor and aroma to soups, stews, sauces, and slow-cooked dishes. We love to add them to roasts, especially our favorite french dip recipe.