Another one for you! Do I have to dry bay leaves?

I have a bay tree. Do the leaves ned to be dried before I can cook with them? Merci bien!

Not necessarily. You can use them fresh too, but they are supposedly slightly more bitter when fresh (I’ve never found that they are, but that’s the received wisdom). I usually cut branches about 30cm long, put them in a vase/jug of water for a few days (as if they were flowers), then hang them up in the kitchen and use the leaves as needed.

(I have no idea where I learned to do the ‘standing them in water’ thing, as that doesn’t seem to be recommended in any of the sites I’ve just looked at. Ah well, could be an old wives’ trick.)

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I use them straight off the tree and never bother drying them or anything! If a recipe says “bay leaves” I go out and pick them. Been doing this for years and haven’t died yet :rofl:

By the way - we are using lots and lots of them on the branch on the barbecue this evening - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for grilled mackerel with bay is a stunner and so simple…


Just use them straight off the tree! (Once you have washed off the guano - I have a pigeon and a blackbird nesting in my bay tree at the moment, it is their anti-magpie strategy).


Our. Veg garden has a lovely smell just now, we took our largest tree down too 4ft before it got past the apex of the roof of the house, most of it has been mulched by my partner and the smell wafting from the piles is wonderful.

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Ours has just come down too - it had gone beyond the apex of the house! Rather too many bay leaves for us to use so now it is rather more compact :smiley:

Ours needs another haircut.

As others here have said, I also just pick mine straight from the tree when needed for a recipe, also just trimmed it too as getting rather big.

Don’t they just @Dawnt ?! Mind you, ours had been there for well over 30 years - the old lady who lived here had planted it behind the little wooden outside loo. We removed the loo but the bay kept growing…

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Same with ours too, we’ve lived here 15 years and it was a well established tree when we arrived!! One year after a very severe winter I thought I’d lost it, all the leaves turned brown, it really was a sorry sight, but thankfully it recovered!

Difficult to kill bay trees in my experience!

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OMG. Hubby and I struck down with a mystrious illness (wont go into details use your imagination!) we were bed bound for two weeks. Ill for some time afterwars. Weak. Shaky. We analysed every meal but could not see how it was food poisoning. Last week a friend was in our garden. We showed her our lovely bay tree. That’s not bay she said don’t cook with that whatever you do. It’s laurel. The leaves are deadly poisonous. Cyanide.
Yup. We’d thrown it in something or other.