Bay leafs - what are they good for?

What exactly does adding a bay leaf do for the flavour of a dish? I can’t tell by smelling them, and you can’t dip the tip of your finger in and sample the flavour, like you can with powdered herbs.

Bay leafs - what are they good for?
Absolutely Nothing.

Actually, they are vital for savory soups and stews. They add subtle spicy, aromatic flavor. Not strong, but noticeable.

Say it again.

Bay adds a grace note to stews and sauces. Is the leaf essential? No. Is it a positive addition? Yes.

Absolutely nothing.

I realize beowulff already posted this but I felt like I should say it again.

I’ve made pot roast without bay leaf (I didn’t have any and didn’t want to make a special trip.) and been disappointed. It was bland without it. The gravy especially just wasn’t as good.

bay leaf adds a bit of spice. hard to describe. But, you’ll notice if it’s left out.

Good god, y’all.

Ohhh, bay leaves, I despise
Because it means destruction
Of innocent lives

Bay leaves mean tears
To thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives

I was scared of the things as a kid. All the talk of having to pull them out before serving the meal my little kid head thought that if you accidently ate one it was instant death.

Now, I know that they are instrumental in a good spaghetti sauce.

If you can’t smell the bay leaf on its own, it may be stale. I have a potted bay tree, and when I pick a leaf from it, it definitely has a strong aromatic smell. Try rubbing the leaf a little and see if that doesn’t release some of the scent for you.

(quote from “The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks.”)

Any good with roasted/baked chick breasts or pot roasts?

Definitely add to pot roast. I never do with chicken, because I use too many other flavor combinations there.

I wouldn’t make chicken stock without it. It adds a pleasant, sweet herbal note that is definitely missed if it’s not there.

I’d like a real bay tree in my yard, as I hear fresh bay is much more aromatic and nice than dried.

they are for ending up in your mouth when you least suspect it. a dinner surprise.

Definitely important for good stock. Bay is one of the classic herbs in bouquet garni.

Fresh bay is good - my neighbour has a big bay tree that partly hangs over the boundary fence, so I canpull fresh leaves off it whenever I like. They’re easy enough to dry too - just cut a branch and hang it up - and freshly-dried leaves are still vastly superior to the dried ones in packets in the shops.

Toast them with cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon and then ground 'em fine with cardamom, and no one will guess if you are lazy and pad out the rest of your seasoning with a generic curry powder. :slight_smile:

But … but bay leaves are poisonous! You can’t suggest people try them without any warning! Maybe I should post a quick, friendly note. Maybe work in an “only good for the undertaker” reference.
Wait …
Are they poisonous? Is that one of those things “everyone” knows, but isn’t really true? How about a quick check of Wiki?

Why, lo! Look at that! They’re not poisonous!
Wait …
It’s a Wiki page. Not exactly the most credulous source. Lemme check their cite…

OMG! FULL CIRCLE!!! It links to a 2007 SD column!
Yay! Bay leaves for all!!!

They are good with black beans. They add a nice subtle note.

And of course, they’re good for the undertaker…


I once read (many years ago, so I don’t have a cite) that the Oracle at Delphi would smoke bay leaves in order to have visions.

I tried this, no visions were induced. Copious amounts of vomiting, however…

You can’t make a real kosher dill pickle without bay leaves.

I have a jar of ground bay leaf. I sprinkle it into foods. It makes them taste yummy.