Foraged California Bay Leaves
Inventory, lb : 0
California bay leaves are elongated, slender, and oblong, averaging 3-10 centimeters long and 1-3 centimeters wide. The green to yellow leaves are glossy, smooth-edged, and have a leathery texture on the surface of the leaf. The leaves are alternately arranged and grow on an evergreen tree or shrub which has red to brown bark that peels and sheds as the tree matures. California bay trees can grow up to forty-five meters tall and are also known for their olive-like fruits and yellow clustered flowers. California bay leaves have an aromatic, pungent, and peppery fragrance with a menthol-eucalyptus flavor.
The California bay leaf is available year-round.
California bay leaves, botanically classified as Umbellularia californica, are members of the Lauraceae family. Also known as the California laurel, Mountain laurel, Pepperwood, and Oregon myrtle, the California bay tree is native to coastal forests of the Pacific and is often used as a flavoring agent and as a medicinal herb. California bay leaves are a common substitute for the Turkish bay leaf, but are slightly more potent and have a stronger flavor. In addition to the leaves, the California bay tree is also prized for its hardwood.
California bay leaves are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. They have also been used to help reduce symptoms of inflammation, headache, and to soothe tooth and stomach aches.
California bay leaves are best suited for adding flavor in cooked applications such as boiling, steaming, and sautéing. They can be used both dried and fresh and are commonly incorporated into soups, stews, sauces, vinegar, curries, and can even be used in crème brulee and ice cream. California bay leaves pair well with fish, chicken, pork, sausages, lentils, cloves, rice, pickles, and fruit. They will keep up to two years when dried and stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
The California bay leaf has been used by many Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest to help reduce aches, pains, and colds. It was commonly ground into a paste, made into a tea, placed on the nose during inhalation, or boiled in hot water to create a soothing bath. Bay leaves are also believed to help deter pests such as fleas and are often placed in mattresses and around rooms as a natural repellent.
The California bay leaf is native to California and the American Southwest. Today it is still found growing extensively throughout the coastal regions of California and southwest Oregon and is available in dried form on online retailers and fresh in local markets.
Recipes that include Foraged California Bay Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.