The aromatic leaf from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean. There are two varieties: Turkish (1 to 2 inch long oval) and California (2 to 3 inch long narrow) leaves. The Turkish is said to have the better flavor.
Plural: Bay leaves
Season: available year-round
How to select: Fresh bay leaves are rarely available.
How to store: Keep for 6 months in a cool dark place.
How to prepare: Flavor soups, stews and long-cooking dishes, but remove before serving.
Matches well with: beans, game, lentils, potatoes, risotto, shellfish, soups, stews, tomatoes
Substitutions: 1/4 tsp crushed bay leaf = 1 whole bay leaf = 1/4 tsp thyme