The bay tree is a popular evergreen shrub suitable for containers or growing in the ground. Kept neatly clipped, the dark-green foliage can create stunning formal shapes that make an entrance or look perfect on a patio.
Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried and are used in cooking to give a fragrant flavour to soups, stews and other dishes.Bay can be grown in a number of ways. It thrives in containers, especially if watered regularly and positioned in a sheltered spot. In the garden, bay trees grow as a large bushy shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 7.5m (23ft) or more.
Bay can also be turned into topiary (trees or shrubs cut or trained into specified shapes) specimens which can be shaped into pyramid, ball or "lollipop" standards, and some have ornately plaited or spirally trained stems.Bay needs a well-drained soil and a sheltered sunny or part-shady position.
Taste and Aroma : 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. They also contain the essential oil eugenol.
Uses : Ancient Greeks were using the leaves of Bay for flavoring. Bay leaves work as a fixture in the cooking of several Europian cuisines specialy in the Americas as well as of the Mediterranean.Commonly they are used in Meat, Soups, Stews, Seafood, vegitable dishes and Sauces. Many French classic dishes are also flavoured by the leaves of Bay.
Generaly the leaves are used as a whole ( some times are used in a bouquet garni) and removed before serving ( they can be abrasive in the digestive tract). Thai cuisine employs bay leaf (Thai name bai kra wan) in a few Arab-influenced dishes, notably massaman curry. Bay (laurel) leaves are frequently packaged as tejpatta (the Hindi term for Indian bay leaf), creating confusion between the two herbs.
In the Philippines, dried bay laurel leaves are added as a spice in the Filipino dish Adobo.Bay leaves can also be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, and thus they are often used in a muslin bag or tea infuser. Ground bay laurel may be substituted for whole leaves, and does not need to be removed, but it is much stronger due to the increased surface area and in some dishes the texture may not be desirable. Bay leaves can also be used scattered in a pantry to repel meal moths, roaches, mice, and silverfish.Bay leaves have been used in entomology as the active ingredient in killing jars. The crushed, fresh, young leaves are put into the jar under a layer of pape. The vapors they release kill insects slowly but effectively, and keep the specimens relaxed and easy to mount. The leaves discourage the growth of molds.The crushed, fresh, young leaves are put into the jar under a layer of pape.
In indian and Pakistani cuisines, Bay laurel leaves are sometime used in place of Indian Bay leaf, although they have the different flavors.Most often they are used in rice dishes like Biryani as an ingredient of Garam Masala.