Cooking With The California Bay Leaf

By Grace Rivas

People who use the California Bay leaf admire its flavor. This spice has been known for its usefulness in preparing food for a number of years. It can be applied to many different dishes, both savory and sweet. Children and adults alike love the taste and look forward to it in a wide range of cold and hot desserts as well as main dishes. It is one of the most versatile natural spices available in the United States.

This versatile spice goes several different names. People often call it by whatever they grew up hearing in their household or community. For examples, people in some areas refer to the seasoning as the pepper wood, perhaps noting its spiciness. Individuals in other communities, call it Laurel or Oregon Myrtle.

These leaves are generally compared to those grown in the Mediterranean. Consumers who have used the type from outside of America sometimes find the latter initially overwhelming. It is powerful and you need a lot less to get the same flavor. However that means you actually save money since pound for pound, you get better value.

Some recipes call for the foreign variety, which are less concentrated. In order to use CA laurel in its place, use a little less than half the amount recommended in the recipe. You will get a rich full bodied flavor and have more spice left over for the next time you cook. Crushing and bending the leaves will also make it easier to release their flavor.

In general, foreign leaves are sold dried and their North American relatives are typically delivered fresh to homes and supermarkets. This difference might be due to a difference in the distance that foreign exports must travel before arriving in the states. However in many homes, nothing beats the delicious flavor of freshly picked CA laurel in stews and soups.

People who prepare meals with this spice often usually purchase a pound or more. It is cheaper to buy it this way and they save in the long run. They get lots of spice when they buy in bulk. In fact, a pound usually contains over seven hundred fresh leaves. You can store these in your refrigerator. Package them in an airtight bag and they will remain flavorful for months.

When the California Bay leaf is dried, as with most spices and herbs, it loses a percentage of its flavor. Several chefs however still do it because the seasoning lasts longer this way. You can remove the moisture from them with an oven or hang up and put the power of air to work. The method you select should be whatever is more convenient.

People who are preparing poultry, beef or ham sometimes use the California Bay leaf to make their dish tastier. Whenever you utilize it, make sure all the leaves are removed before you serve the food. Always use them whole and never dice them since it will become harder for you to find them. The flavor also brings out the taste of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes and beets.

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