Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.
Food features: Evergreen trees, up to 9-12m, dark brown bark. Leaves alternate, leathery, oblong or lanceolate, about 6-11cm, width of 2-4cm, apex acute, base cuneate, entire or slightly wavy, reflexed, dark green, broken after the fragrance; vein feather, two uplift; petioles about 1cm, purple. Umbel axillary, dioecious; flowers small, diameter 3-4mm, yellow, peduncle length of 1cm, with a total bud stem base; male flower tepals 4, obovate, apex obtuse; stamens 12, the number of round 3 arranged within the valve cleft anther; female perianth 4, pistil 1, ovary 1 room, stigma short, slightly into the head shape. Berries oval, dark purple. Flowering in April.
Place of origin: China's Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Taiwan, Sichuan, Yunnan and other places have introduced cultivation.
Nutrition: If eaten whole, bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste. As with many spices and flavorings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf. Bay leaves also contain the essential oil eugenol.
Dietotherapy function: In the Middle Ages, bay leaves were believed to induce abortions and to have many magical qualities. They were once used to keep moths away, owing to the leaf's lauric acid content that gives it insecticidal properties. Bay leaves have many properties that make them useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties. Bay Oil, or Oil of Bays (Oleum Lauri) is used in liniments for bruising and sprains. Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels. It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, and has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.