Bay leaves also known as laurel leaves come from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean, from the family Lauraceae. Bay leaves are essential spices in Mediterranean cuisine, Filipino, French, Indian, and China, and they can date back at least to Roman times. It is a symbol of victory and achievement and used to make wreaths for Olympic champions, and also a part of culinary and medicinal culture for thousands of years. The fragrance of the leaves is much more noticeable than the taste, and have a bitter taste. When bay leaves are dried, the aroma of the bay leaves is herbal floral, one leaf goes a long way.
The freshly bay leaves have a warm aroma, which is infused into cooking. Bay leaves are standard ingredient in many savory soups and stews and are used around the world for many cooking recipes. When added to stews, roasts or sauces, they slowly release their warm, floral and savory flavor for optimum taste. They are generally removed before serving, and they can also be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove. You can use in a muslin bag or tea infuser to remove them. Not only using in culinary, but also have lots of health benefits and medicinal properties, such as prevent coughs, cold and used for treatment of digestive disorders.
Bay leaves will keep for a long time if you store them properly. Keep bay leaves away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight, and keep in an airtight container or jar.