Monday, 8 September 2008

Gold Medal Bay Leaves

There are two main types of bay leaves; the Mediterranean bay leaf thought to be native to Turkey, and the California bay leaf, which is somewhat stronger in flavour.

By leaves or laurel leaves are the original gold medal award at the Olympic Games just one of the uses of this herb that most think as only being used in many soups and stews. Bay leaves are also used for a whole range of medicinal remedies.

The strong scent of the bay leave was believed to give potions for visions, fortune telling and words of wisdom. Sleeping with bay leaves under you pillow is believed to produce psychic dreams. If you carry bay leaves they will create a defence against evil .

Exorcism is affected from bay leaves if they are burnt and the ashes scattered about. They are also used in teas and in baths as an act of purification before ancient rituals. Lastly in this history of belief, it is said if you put a bay leaf in your wallet it will bring you prosperity.

The Bay leaves are a spicy and bitter tasting herb and it may surprise some by knowing that there is a bay rum produced in the West Indies.

Scientifically proven medical as opposed to religious and cult belief, the uses bring about a lengthy list. It improves digestion and is also used as a local antiseptic. A weak infusion of bay leaves taken at meal times will improve digestion.

Bay leaves have proved affective against flatulence, dyspepsia, and indigestion ands has been used for bladder and kidney ailments. The list also adds it use to treat rheumatism, amenorrhoea, and colic as well as effective treatment for high blood sugar and migraines.

Treating dandruff and soothing sprains, bruises and a remedy for boosting hair growth are all part of the magic that this herb's properties have and we haven't even got onto cooking with it yet!

There is a homemade potion you can make by heating the leaves in a little olive oil creating a remedy giving relieve arthritis and aches.

The uses in cosmetics is also just as far reaching producing dyes and perfumes. If the leaves are crushed bay leaves are also used as a cockroach repellent! In potpourri and herb sachets, bay leaves plays an important roll in the overall flavour.

As mentioned before this powerfully flavoured herb used to flavour soups and stews and is often used in Mediterranean and North American cuisine.

As mentioned earlier, dried bay leaves are usually added to soup stocks, stews, various meat and vegetable dishes, marinades, and several French dishes such as bouillabaisse. The oils of the bay leaf are slowly released during the lengthy cooking process.

An additional food element is having just a fine sprinkle of crumbled bay leaves over salads or other dishes for more flavour. Do not overuse otherwise it become a bitter experience, half of a bay leaf is ample to flavour a meal that give two servings.

If you have your own laurel tree you don't have to look for bay leaves that are bright green in colour, these will have the most flavour. Bay leaves that have faded will tend to be more bitter so be choosy when shopping. You can also get bay leaves in powder form.


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