The Q&A Archives: Bay leaves

Question: Hi....
I don't know if Bay leaves that we use for cooking are poisonous
or not. I've heard that you can put them in soups, etc, but if the actual leaf is ingested, it is poisonous.
Have you heard that this part of the plant is poisonous?
Please help! Thanks, Dorian

Answer: Bay leaves are not poisonous -- if they were, you would not be cooking with them! The reason you should always pick them out of the dish you are cooking before serving it is that the leaves do not become tender with cooking. They are thin, rigid, and have very sharp edges. If you accidentally ate one, it might lodge in your throat. To avoid problems, always count the number of bay leaves you put in a dish and make sure you take the same number back out again. Or, you can wrap the bay leaves and other spices (like peppercorns) in a bit of clean cheesecloth. Tie it off with cooking twine, put it in the pot, and attach the other end of the string to one of the handles on your pot to make it easy to fish out later,

Hope this answers all your questions about bay leaves!

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