Greek Bay Leaves: Cooking and Medicinal Info

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Bay leaf, also referred to as Daphni or δάφνη in Greek, is one of those herbs that is used in Greek cooking but that doesn’t seem to take center stage like some of the other herbs. The main function of this herb is to delicately season broths, stews, sauces, and soups and the hard leaves are usually fished out and set aside before the dish is served. It could also be referred to as bay laurel, but in the United States, this is a much older reference. Use of this herb dates back to Ancient Greece and back then it was used to make crowns, season food, and as medicine.

Where are Bay Leaves from in Greece?

There are several varieties of bay leaf that grow throughout the world. The leaf that we use in cooking comes from the leaves of the laurel tree. In Greece, you can find the fresh or dried leaves in the markets. It doesn’t make a difference whether or not you use the fresh or dried leaves in your recipes because they both have a strong enough aroma to flavor whichever dish you’re making.

How Does Bay Leaves Taste?

The flavor of bay leaves can be described as aromatic with a slight evergreen flavor. It is also bitter, sharp, and slightly pungent.

What Greek Recipes Use Bay Leaves?

Kakavia, Tahinosoupa, Stifatho, Chicken and Garlic Sauce, Fakes Soupa, Garides Vrastes

What are the Herbal Remedies for Bay Leaves?

Bay leaf has been used for a variety of complaints over the centuries. It is often applied topically for dandruff and for muscle aches and pains. The leaves also have an action on the gall bladder and can also be used to stimulate bile since they are slightly bitter.

Interesting Facts About Bay Leaves

One of the most traditional uses for this plant originated in ancient times and also has nothing to do with today’s culinary uses for the plant! In Ancient Greece, crowns of bay leaves were made to adorn the heads of heroes as they came home from battle and for those individuals who won an athletic event or race.

Sources:

Wikipedia – Bay Leaf

WebMD – Bay Leaf

Many Greek recipes are different based on the region of Greece and family traditions, so uses of the herbs and spices contained on this page may vary. Also, GreekBoston.com does not provide medical advice and the information provided here is for informational purposes only. This isn’t a medical site, please consult with your physician. The medicinal health information is based on anecdotal evidence and Greek history.

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