Mum planted this tree years ago. They are very slow growing but now it is huge, an actual tree....
Bay leaves go into many soups (my chicken soup which cures anything) and stews/casseroles. They are a key ingredient. And now they know an important part of why the mediterranean diet is so healthy and keeps cancer rates low. It contains all kinds of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are known cancer fighters and is thought to be unique in some of its properties. Use a few in everything you can!
Bay leaves are also a key component to your bouquet garni, I'll show you how to make them and use them in another post! They are so useful and easy to use.
Jamie Oliver places 10 fresh bay leaves under his pork roast with 4 apples. Now I use quite a few with my pork roasts through winter. Yum.
So ... my farm visit is time to collect and then dry my Bay Leaves. Last year my aunt and I sat and made wreaths with them for our kitchens and gifts for our cook friends. They dried very well and I used several as kitchen themed gifts.
I had already made a wreath base from the vines my neighbour had trimmed and was throwing away the long cut off bits (horror of horrors!) She let me have all this and it made a dozen grape vine wreaths... most of these became the base for these wreaths. So the entire thing was 100% free.
The other thing is to make bunches of bay leaves and place them in your pantry cupboards. Then you will not have pantry moths. I had tiny irritating and creepy pantry moths once. I emptied the pantry, cleaned everything, put it all back and ever since have kept a generous bunch of bay leaves in each cupboard and have never had them since. Well worth it.
Once dried they keep for years. What a gift to be able to pick free herbs and spices, use them all year and benefit from the flavour and amazing health boost!
There are so many herbs we can gather free. Most people with a bay leaf tree will gladly let you have a bunch, same with rosemary and many other herbs. At the supermarket I see people pay several dollars for a few sprigs of rosemary. It grows in the car park! It's in every park and garden around here!
Take every opportunity to gather and use herbs. If you have something growing or available to you google all the uses for it... you might have a years worth of kitchen gifts and a healthy addition to your meals right there waiting to be picked! Bunches given to friends who cook are very welcome gifts.
Once I had so much parsley I took bunches into my local organic cafe and he was so happy he gave me free coffees for a year!