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Looking for Magic:  Bay Leaf

By Sharon
October 23, 2012

As often as we use herbs and spices, we really should be aware of their nutritional value. Finding their magic is important too. Let's take a close look at bay leaves and see the surprises they bring to our kitchen.

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Name: Linda
Tucson, Arizona
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quietyard
Oct 22, 2012 9:10 PM CST
I enjoyed your article Sharon. Smiling I have had a large potted bay tree for many years. It is a bit taller then I am and gets no special care and has grown very well despite being left mostly on its on with just daily watering. I think it was a tiny couple of inches tall when I purchased it years ago. Nice learning something about its history and uses. Thumbs up
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 22, 2012 9:40 PM CST
Great to know about your bay tree, Linda. And thank you. Do you keep your tree inside or out in your climate? I'm not really all that familiar with different parts of Arizona so I don't know what will grow well there.

And do you use it for culinary seasoning?
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Name: Oma
OHIO (Zone 5b)
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DaylilyOma2
Oct 22, 2012 9:46 PM CST
Sharon,
Thank you for that good article on the Bay Leaf and tree. I was not aware of the fact it is good for medical purposes. Do you know how it is used for HBP?
I will have to do some research on that and see what I can find. It would be good to know.
Oma Smiling
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 22, 2012 9:52 PM CST
Hi Oma,
When I was looking for the nutritional value of bay, I ran across this information:

http://www.ehow.com/how_5868964_reduce-blood-pressure-bay-le...

If you read it I'm sure you'll understand it better than if I try to explain it. I also found reference to bay regarding HBP on other sites but I think this one explains it better. I'm not knowledgeable enough about medicine to do much more than guide you to answers, so this is about all I really know.

Hope this helps. Smiling
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Name: Linda
Tucson, Arizona
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quietyard
Oct 22, 2012 10:01 PM CST
Sharon mine stays outside all year around and nothing bothers it. Oddly I do not use the leaves from it to cook with. I always buy the dried ones from the store. Blinking Not sure why ! Rolling on the floor laughing
" And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden" Genesis 2:8
[Last edited by quietyard - Oct 22, 2012 10:29 PM (+)]
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 22, 2012 10:04 PM CST
Be sure your tree is the culinary variety, there are so many that are toxic. So if you don't know then maybe it's best if you continue to buy it from the grocery. Smiling
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Name: Linda
Tucson, Arizona
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Morning Glories Region: United States of America Amaryllis Hummingbirder
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quietyard
Oct 22, 2012 10:28 PM CST
Oh my I never thought about that ! Crying Thanks for the warning .
" And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden" Genesis 2:8
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Oct 23, 2012 3:38 AM CST
GREAT article Sharon and I saw yesterday that if you put a bay leaf in your flour canister, you won't get mealy bugs but then I wonder if it would affect the taste of the flour?

My mother used bay leaves in cooking often so I, too, always have bay leaves and use them quite a bit in stew, soups, etc.

Will you share your gumbo recipe? Please?

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Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
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NEILMUIR1
Oct 23, 2012 4:08 AM CST
Dear Sharon, bays were introduced in the bits of the UK the Romans did not conquer in 43 AD and were of course the culinary variety! Around Lullingstone Roman villa which is near us there are many specimen ones that are huge. These bear suckers that are quite easy to take out and pot with roots intact! The taste of them is superb and they do not need drying as you just crack them in half and add to your cooking! They are not bitter at all, unlike some so called modern culinary varieties!
They are of no use as standards as they bush like crazy if trimmed too much, and the leaves are far too large. I have two in pots and use them all the time as they are totally hardy, which some modern ones are not.
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 9:33 AM CST
Vic, I'd think it might leave some flavor in the flour, not sure. I do add it to my cupboard shelves, though.
Stay tuned for the gumbo recipe. It lives in my head and I need to practice it in writing before adding it here, just to make sure I don't forget something. I'll get back to that in a little while.

Hi Neil, lucky you to have bay at your convenience. It's a beautiful plant too, with it's dark green leaves.
I always enjoy learning bits of your history as well, thanks!
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 10:20 AM CST
Gumbo recipe for Vic, sure hope I remembered everything (this makes maybe 8 or 10 servings but it is great leftover):

1 chicken or the equivalent of, in cut pieces
1 C oil
1 C sifted flour
celery chopped
couple of onions chopped
1 green pepper chopped (optional)

2 minced cloves of garlic
1/2 C Worcestershire sauce
2 t salt
2 or 3 bay leaves
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t rosemary
(Actually you can season to taste, I hardly ever really measure the spices)

crab meat or sliced smoked sausage or both
2 or 3 pounds of peeled shrimp
hot cooked rice

Cook the chicken in salted water till tender and reserve a couple quarts of the stock.
Remove the meat from bones and cut or tear into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a very large heavy pot, add flour very slowly when oil is hot, stirring constantly as you add it. This makes the roux and it burns easily, but you need to cook it to a darkish brown, nearly black, but not black. Keep stirring.

Add celery, onions, green pepper and garlic to roux and continue cooking over low heat, still stirring constantly until veggies are softened.

Add the chicken stock and chicken, also more water- maybe another quart or so. Stir to mix.
Add W. sauce, salt, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary and simmer for about 3 hours.
Add crab meat or smoked sausage and then shrimp.
Simmer for about 30 minutes longer.

Serve over hot rice.

Some people add tomatoes to the mix, some add okra; my husband never liked either, so I didn't add them.
Usually we sprinkled file' over the gumbo as we served it.

Oh boy, I hope I didn't leave anything out. I had to visualize the whole process and write it down as I thought of it. It isn't pretty and it looks like mud as the roux browns, smells like burnt mud, too, but the end result is an amazing blend of flavors. Some people use different meats, but I make mine from those mentioned above. I usually saved all the shrimp for my bowl Green Grin!

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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 10:23 AM CST
Also should tell you that this recipe is not spicy hot. The Cajuns in my husband's family didn't like 'hot' so they didn't use hot seasonings. If you prefer some heat, then add hot peppers to the mix.

And gallons of ice water to the table.
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Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Oct 23, 2012 10:31 AM CST
Oh, thanks so much for including your recipe. Gumbo is something I have
never tried. I'll have fun with this during the winter

Beautifully written!!
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 10:47 AM CST
Thanks, Shirley.
Y'all will have to let me know about your gumbo.

When we boated during the 80s and 90s, we were docked in a covered marina. We got to know our marina neighbors very well and would often have potlucks on rainy weekends when all were there but the weather was not fit for boating. They'd always chip in and get the ingredients and then I'd cook the gumbo for them. That's why it is such a huge recipe. Sometimes we'd end up with two chickens, and sometimes if there were lots of people I'd have more than one pot of gumbo going at a time. I guess I could have cut the ingredients in half for you, but at least you know it will serve a gathering. Big Grin
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Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Oct 23, 2012 10:52 AM CST
Thank you Sharon! Hurray! Hurray!

Printed out and next time I'm out to the grocery, I'll get what I don't have on the list and make it! Thumbs up

Stay tuned....
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 11:30 AM CST
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Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
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mcash70
Oct 23, 2012 1:26 PM CST
Thanks Sharon, for a very interesting article on bay trees and leaves. I love the smell and flavor of bay leaves, I use them in a lot of different dishes, I like to add 2 or 3 to the pot. Green Grin!
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 4:22 PM CST
Thumbs up Margaret!
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Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Oct 23, 2012 4:36 PM CST
I like putting bay leaves in my vegetable soup, but I am afraid I buy mine from the store. I certainly did not know that those leaves came from a tree and that they deter certain insects. Very interesting info to know! Thanks for the article Sharon.
Vickie
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Oct 23, 2012 4:58 PM CST
Thanks for reading, Vickie! Smiling
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