How Do You Contain Bay Leaves?

Suzieque

I get nervous about using bay leaves in cooking, lest they break apart (which they do) and I can't find the pieces. I'm thinking that I should have a "spice bag" of sorts or something that I can just easily find the bay leaves and remove them.

Do you do so? Or do you just wing it? If you use something to keep the bay leaves contained, what is it or how do you do it?

Thanks!

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

If they break apart in cooking I’m wondering if your bay leaves are too old and hence brittle? I can honestly say it’s not something I’ve ever encountered with the bay I dry myself. Bay grows easily here and I just break pieces from a branch I keep in the kitchen. Also, if they do break is that a problem?

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LoneJack Zn 6a, KC

floral - in the US bay leaves grow in jars :-)

I don't worry about it. If I can't easily find it in the stew or soup pot someone will find it in their bowl eventually.

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Suzieque

I wish we had fresh bay leaves like you do, floral! Yes, as LoneJack said, we buy them in jars and they are dry and brittle. My concern is someone NOT finding them or pieces of them, and swallowing them, which is very harmful.

Several (some conflicting) reports online, such as this from Wikipedia: "...bay leaves may be eaten without toxic effect. However, they remain unpleasantly stiff even after thorough cooking, and if swallowed whole or in pieces they may pose a risk of harming the digestive tract or causing choking.[13] Thus most recipes that use bay leaves will recommend their removal after the cooking process has finished."

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morz8

I have only a couple of things that I make that need a spice
bag/bouquet garni and often use the bay leaves whole and loose. Then hope I
can find them before serving. DH is good about finding one on his plate
any more, will just put it to the side. He knows not to eat them ;0)Finding
good quality bay leaves helps. I don't see them breaking apart in my
cooking processes. I look for those that are large and intact when
buying, not little leaves that are broken in the jar (most recent very nice leaves I found were Trader Joe's). I used two in a
sauce just yesterday. A lucky night, I was able to find and remove them
before we sat down to eat.

I do keep some kitchen cheesecloth and twine in a drawer handy on the chance I want to bag spices up. Rarely find I need to use it and would not for a couple of bay leaves.

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maifleur03

I have grown bay leaves so they do not all grow from jars. In this area they need to be either greenhouse grown or as I do in a pot that you enlarge as the small tree or shrub grows. It will form a small tree unless you use a lot of it in cooking then it branches. I used to buy them either at the Family Tree on Farley or the Wornall House herb sale. I think the person who did the cuttings for the sale has died. The last one I had was about 3 feet by two feet when it decided that it was time to die.


I am like LoneJack if I miss a piece someone will find it.

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chloebud

I'd have to say wing it since I've actually never had a problem just fishing them out.

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Suzieque

Hmmmm, ok. I guess I've fallen prey to the "never let anyone ingest a piece of bay leaf or it'll kill them dead" party. I threw a bunch away the other day that had broken into pieces in the jar. I guess I'm overly concerned. Thank you all for your input!


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aok27502

I don't think I've ever given it any thought, but what about a tea infuser with a screw-on lid?


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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Pretty sure bay trees grow in many parts of the USA. They’re not tropical. And it’s very amenable to pot growing. It can be left outside until temps go consistently below 23f. If you can’t grow it I’d just try to buy good quality dried leaves which don’t look too faded. Freshly dried it should be dark green, not greyish brown. We can buy it in jars here too but it always makes me laugh that on their way to the supermarket people will, perhaps unknowingly, have walked past huge bushes of the stuff In the local parks.

But back to the topic. Just pick any bits out, not because they’ll kill you, but because they’re scratchy.


The neighbour’s tree.


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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

Bay trees grow easily here in FL. I'm on my 2nd, after hubby mistakenly killed the last one.

I do not have that problem either, since I use them fresh and pick as needed. I actually grind them up to add to a homemade spice blend. Eating them won't harm you, tho getting a piece caught in your teeth or throat is not pleasant.

If they're shattering, they may need replacing - as mentioned above.

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maddielee

You can wrap them in little squares of cheesecloth and tie it with butcher’s string.


I add whole bay leaves all the time, have never had one break up during cooking.

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chloebud

We lived in our house for a few years before I even realized we had a California Bay Laurel tree. I've found them more potent that the dried ones you buy so I use smaller leaves.

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Debby

I've never worried about them. I toss a few in my soup and when it's done I hunt for them and pull them out.

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nicole___

I only use them in stew...loose. Then pull them out before serving. I may be imagining it...but I can taste cloth spice bags ....tea bags to me have a flavor....

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Lars

Bay trees also grow in California, especially along streams. I have one in my back yard, and so I always use fresh leaves.

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donna_loomis

I just fish them out later and if I miss one, I let those eating know I couldn't find it and tell them there's a prize if they find it. Not really, but I don't really worry about it. Also, about a year ago I was given a large bag of them. I kept some whole, but the rest I put in the blender and ground to powder. I just toss in a pinch or two when I want. I'm sure nobody has become ill from ingesting the powder and the flavor is throughout the dish. AND the powder takes up less room in my cabinet and/or freezer.

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

California Bay, Umbellularia californica, is a different species from Bay, Laurus nobilis. It is the latter which is sold and used as bayleaf. Umbellularia can be eaten but is more pungent and should be used in much smaller quantities. If a recipe calls for bayleaf it means Laurus nobilis.

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wildchild2x2

Never gave them much thought. Making spaghetti sauce tonight. When I portion it I will see them and pick them out. If not they will still turn up in a ladle or bowl.



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seagrass_gw Cape Cod

In addition to always using whole bay leaves, I also just throw in sprigs of thyme when the recipe calls for it. The leaves fall off, just pick out the stems. No big deal.

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rob333 (zone 7a)

It's really easy. I just announce whoever finds the bay leaf does the dishes. Somehow, people very carefully avoid them. Not really, it's an old family joke...

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Lars

The bay tree in my yard was bought specifically for culinary purposes, and so I assume that it is the correct variety. I have never eaten leaves from the wild bay trees that I find in parks.

I generally forget to use bay leaves and really do not miss them when I do. My food tends to be spicy anyway, and so it is easy for their flavor to get lost.

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arcy_gw

I am not comprehending the TRAGEDY if one was ingested. I have used them. Often fish them out before serving but have never thought to obsess about it. DH fishes them as he finds them..the kids IDK maybe ate them maybe never came across any. I have often wondered why there isn't a tea type reusable spice strainer for items like whole cloves or thyme when the recipe calls for straining something something out. Any foodies out there come across one?

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donna_loomis

Arcy, a large tea infuser would work fine, but here is a spice ball, if you're interested.



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socks

I’ve never had them break up, they stay whole. I’m always careful to fish them out before serving. Once I heard about someone choking on a bay leaf, Heimlich maneuver required.

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Suzieque

Again, thank you all. I guess I'll 1) buy better bay leaves and 2) not be too concerned about it.

Arcy, I don't know anywhere that I said or implied TRAGEDY or that I obsess over them. Goodness, you do read things where they're not, don't you? I appreciate your input though, as you are one of all that indicted to not give it much thought.

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Elmer J Fudd

Some people like to be dramatic.


Funny, I'd always thought of the source as the opposite of most of you by assuming that what was sold was the California laurel. I've never given it much thought. I fish it out when cooking is over if I see it, or leave it in if I don't. I think most people know know to not eat leaves, bark, or other hardish seasonings when encountered in a dish they're eating. Like a peppercorn that I think most know not to chomp down on one.

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beesneeds

I use bay a lot, and have only had problems with brittle breaking leaves when they are older and more dried out. I usually just toss them into whatever is cooking. I pick them out if I'm processing after, like pureeing soup or mashing beans. Otherwise I just leave the leaves in for serving and we joke that it's good luck to find one in your dinner :)

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