Real World Gardener Spice it Up with Bay Leaves

August 17th, 2014

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" />


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website



with Ian Hemphill from

Do you have a repertoire of a few herbs and spices that you always use in your cooking?

These herbs and spices become quite familiar to you and you probably think you know how best to use them right?

Not so right when it comes to this particular spice that comes from the leaves of a tree because there’s a big difference between using the fresh leaves and dried leaves in cooking.

There are a number of different types of bay leaves used in cooking in different parts of the world. California bay leaf that look like the Bay laurel that we know well–California laurel, (Umbellularia californica, Lauraceae), also known as Oregon myrtle, and pepperwood, is like the Mediterranean bay laurel, but has a stronger flavour.Indian bay leaf or malabathrum (Cinnamomum tamala, Lauraceae) also looks a little bit like the leaves of bay laurel, but is culinarily quite different, -it’s more like cinnamon (cassia) bark, but milder.

So, did you know that using fresh bay leaves in your cooking can leave a slightly bitter taste?

Perhaps not?

Fresh bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste.


When dried, the fragrance is herbal, slightly floral, and somewhat similar to oregano and thyme.

The bitter note has disappeared altogether and is much more pleasant to use in cooking.

Myrcene, which is a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf.

Bay leaves also contain the essential oil eugenol-you may remember it being in another herb-Basil!

If you have any questions about John Stanley’s interview, drop us a line to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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