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Bay Leaf
Bay Leaf
Bay leaf is one of the oldest herbs or spice. It is native of Asia Minor and is known by the name of 'Sweet bay', 'bay laurel', 'Noble laurel' and 'True laurel'. These leaves have aromatic odor and are bitter and spicy.

Bay Leaves or Laurel Leaves are evergreen shrub or dried leaves whose upper surface is glabrous , shiny, olive green, and lower surface is dull olive to brown. The leaf size ranges from from 2.5 to 7.5 cms in length and 1.6 to 2.5 cms in breadth. The shape of the leaf is elliptical.

Indian Name: Tej Patta
Botanical Name: Laurus nobilis L
Family Name: Lauraceae
Parts Used: Leaf
Habitat: India and Mediterranean region

Origin
Bay leaf is native to Asia Minor from where it reached to Mediterranean . Bay leaf is not grown in the northern regions as they are susceptible to cold climate. They are grown all over in the Mediterranean. Region whereas Turkey is one of the main exporters. These leaves are also grown in the regions of France, Belgium, Central and North America, Turkey, Italy, Russia Israel and India.

Bay Leaf

Chemical Composition
Bay leaf consist of essential oil including 1,8 cineol, eugenol, acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol, a- and ß-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol. Aroma of the leave is determined by terpenes cinnamic acid and its methyl ester.

Cultivation
Mediterranean type of climate is most suitable for the growth of bay leaf. They can also be grown in some of the warm areas where there height reaches upto 18 m. It is in the May that the flower begin to appear. The fruit is small which later turn black about 12mm in size. Propagation is best if it takes place from shoots.

Bay leaves when fresh are highly aromatic and bitter. The flavor can be improved and bitterness reduced by using appropriate drying procedure, bitterness is significantly reduced. The leaves are immediately dried after plucking without exposing them to sunlight.
After manual plucking and sorting, the leaves are quickly dried without exposure to sunlight. The bright green color clearly defines the quality of the bay leaves.

Bay Leaf
Types of Bay Leaf
Bay leaf are very popular in the west therefore many exotic leaves of the west are popularly called as bay leaves. These leaves are however are not related to the original bay leaves neither botanically nor culinarily. Some of the related species are as follows:

Greek Bay leaf
These leaves are aromatic and belong to the Laurel family (Lauraceae). Because of their distinctive flavor and fragrance they are used for preparing various dishes.

Mediterranean Bay Leaf
Laurus nobilis also called as Mediterranean bay leaf is fresh leaf with mild aroma and flavor. Even after several weeks of picking and drying they and do not develop their full flavor.

California bay leaf
California bay leaf is highly aromatic and are also sometimes called as Mexican bay leaves. California bay leaf are not much used because they carry within themselves potential health hazards. California bay leaf are also known as California laurel, Oregon myrtle, and pepperwood.

Indian bay leaf
Indian bay leaf also called as tej patta has similar fragrance and taste to cinnamon bark, but milder. The aroma is more closely related to cassia. The appearance of Indian bay leaf is same as that of other bay leaves but their culinary usage is different. Since Indian bay leaf is of a different genus it is incorrect to called it bay leaf.

History of Bay Leaf
Bay leaves occupy special place in Greek and Roman History. The victors were crowned with wreath of laurels by ancient Greeks and Romans. When athletes won in sports in Ancient Greece they were awarded laurel garlands. It was also believed that the bay leaves or laurel provided safety from the deities responsible for thunder and lightning. They also occupy an important place in Roman and Greek cookery. Today in laurel are one of the main flavoring item for many dishes.

Uses
Culinary
Bay leaves are used for preparing sauces, soups, daubes and stews . They are also used for flavoring and seasoning for fish, meat and poultry. They are commonly used for preparing pickles. Bay leaf is often included as a pickling spice.

Medicinal Use
  • Used as an insecticides to keep moths away
  • Treats physical problems like:
  • High blood sugar
  • Migraine
  • Headaches
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Gastric ulcers.
Bayleaf essential oil is also used to relieve muscular soreness and enhance blood circulation. It is also used to prevent hair loss.

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