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  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

BAY LEAF [ LAUREL ] ( Laurus nobilis L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Sweet laurel, (Sweet) Bay leaf
French Laurier (noble)
German Lorbeer
Spanish Laurel
Italian Alloro, Lauro
Turkish Defne ağacı, Defne yaprağı (bay leaves)
Japanese Gekkeiju,Roreru

FAMILY: Lauraceae

ORIGIN:   It is originated from Asia. The laurel tree grows all over the Mediterranean and Turkey is one of the main exporters.



Bay leaves: lower side,
upper side, old (discoloured) leaf
GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

The bay leaf is oval, pointed and smooth and it is 5 - 8 cm long. When fresh, the leaves are shiny and dark green on top with lighter undersides. When dried the bay leaf is a matte olive green.

USEFUL PARTS:

Leaves. Industrially, laurel oil is prepared from the fruits, which may also be used as a spice.

SENSORY PROPERTIES:

Aromatic and slightly bitter

MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

The essential oil from the leaves (0.8 to 3%) contains mostly 1,8 cineol (50%); furthermore, eugenol, acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol, α- and β-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol are found.

In addition the dried fruits contain 0.6 to 10% of essential oil, depending on provenance and storage conditions. The aroma of laurel is mostly due to terpenes (cineol, terpineol, α- and β-pinene, citral), also cinnamic acid and its methyl ester are reported in some studies.

From laurel fruits, a green semisolid oil (melting point about 30 °C) can be extracted, which contains several percent of essential oil (main components are two sesquiterpenoids, costunol and dehydrocostuslacton), but is mainly composed of fatty oil: Triglycerides of lauric acid (dodecanoic acid), myristic acid (tetradecanoic acid) and elaic acid. [1]

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:  Bay leaf is used usually two or tree leaves inside dishes for its taste and aroma and the leaves are removed usually before consuming the food. They are essential to all gumbos, boiling shrimp and great marinara sauces. Bay leaves are used as common flavouring in soups, sauces and pickles. It is an appropriate seasoning for fish, meat and poultry. Bay leaf is often included as a pickling spice. Bay leaves can be cooked for prolonged time without much loss of aroma. Fresh or dried bay leaves frequently appear in bouquet garni. The laurel fruits are less known, although they appear as part of commercial spice mixtures. Because of their robust taste, they fit best to strong sauces and gravies

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Bay leaf has many properties which make it 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. Bay Leaf has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic.[2]

Note: Bay Leaf is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, nor for those who are taking medication for diabetes.

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

[1]http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Laur_nob.html

[2]http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/bay.html

http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/gewuerze/lorbeer/lorbeer.htm

http://aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/bay-leaf.html