Can you eat bay leaves?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you eat bay leaf?”, and discuss other questions like how to use bay leaf and its health benefits.

Can you eat bay leaves?

Yes, you can eat bay leaves. The dried bay leaves that you buy from grocery stores are edible. But we would not recommend that.

You can eat the bay leaf, but that does not mean you should. It is stiff, has sharp edges and upon cooking also it does not become soft, so there are chances you may choke on it. You can not chew and swallow it easily. Even if you grind it and add, then also it gives a gritty texture which is not desirable.

It is very common to use dried bay leaves while cooking soups, rice dishes, tea, sauces. But often they are removed before serving because they can be a choking hazard, though their flavor remains in the dish.

If you eat a bay leaf by accident, do not worry it’s fine, it’s safe. But it’s best if you remove it anyhow it would not have any taste. All its good nutrition would be in the dish after cooking.  So no point in eating.

What is a bay leaf?

Bay leaves are aromatic leaves used as a common household spice. They grow on trees belonging to the Lauraceae family. They grow in a hot and humid environment.

Bay leaves are usually used in cooking and also for medicinal purposes.

They are available as fresh, dried, or ground into powder. Bay leaves have a stronger aroma than taste. They have an herbal, floral aroma and bitter taste.

The main reason for the flavor and aroma is the essential oil which is about 2% of plant weight.

Bay leaf is usually added to cooking as a whole leaf. Only its flavor is desired, so once the dish is ready you can remove it before serving.

Here are some common varieties of bay leaves-

1. Bay laurel

2. California bay leaf

3. Indonesia bay leaf

4. West Indian bay leaf

5. Indian bay leaf

There is always confusion about, out of so many types and species, which is the true bay leaf. Several other species belonging to the same or different plant family are traded as bay leaves. But, the leaves of the tree named Laurus nobilis are the true bay leaves also known as bay laurel.

How to use bay leaves?

It’s very easy to use bay leaves. Just toss some two to three leaves into your soup, stew, sauce, rice, or tea and allow it to cook with the dish to get that mild aroma and flavor.

Fresh green bay leaves can give you a more rich flavor but they will last only for about a week if stored properly. Usually, they are used to enhance the flavor of the tea.

Mostly dried whole leaves are preferred because they can last for years if stored properly in a cool and dry place.

Usually, whole dried bay leaves are used while cooking. The reason for using whole leaves is that they are easy to remove after cooking.

Sometimes crushed or ground bay leaves are used instead of whole bay leaves. Indeed they can give more flavor but it will impart a gritty texture to the dish and cant be removed easily. So the best way to use it is inside a muslin bag or tea infuser.

If you are worried about choking on it and still don’t want to compromise on flavor then you can use a muslin bag or tea infuser instead of adding it directly. This way you will achieve your flavor and no reason to worry.

Health benefits of the bay leaf

These leaves are exceptionally rich in vitamins A, B, and C. Bay leaves are very rich in minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and selenium. They also contain folic acid.

Due to their high nutritional value bay leaves show certain health benefits

·   Improves digestion- They have an impact on the gastrointestinal system by preventing gastric damage and promoting urination which helps to get toxins out of the body.

    They can reduce irritable bowel syndrome and also celiac disease symptoms and also help fight against kidney stones

·   Shows anti-inflammatory activity- Compounds called parthenolide present in bay leaf help reduce inflammation when applied to affected areas.

·   Protects heart health-  caffeic acid and rutin help to improve heart health.

·   May protect against cancer- the combination of antioxidants and organic compounds can reduce the proliferation of cervical cancer cells.

·   Reduces anxiety and stress- linalool present in bay leaves can reduce levels of stress hormones.

·   Could be useful for diabetic patients- some studies show that consumption of bay leaf can reduce blood sugar and may help decrease the risk factor for diabetes.

Conclusion-

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Can you eat bay leaf?”, and discussed other questions like how to use bay leaf and its health benefits.

If you have any questions please let us know.

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326913522_Health_Benefits_of_Bay_Leaf_Health_Action_31_7_24_-_26
  2. https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions/what-is-bay-leaf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7152419/
  4. https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=rjmp.2011.471.476&org=10
  5. Raman, V., Bussmann, R., & Khan, I. (2017). Which Bay Leaf is in Your Spice Rack? – A Quality Control Study. Planta Medica, 83(12/13), 1058–1067. doi:10.1055/s-0043-103963.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.