Bay Leaves and French Cooking

The vegetable and herb garden we manage is presided over by 3 large bay trees. These are large and bushy and, it feels like, constantly in need of pruning. They have a habit of bolting and consequently shading the much of the vegetables, so we have to prune quite dramatically. On the other hand, gosh darn, we have lots of bay leaves.

Bay leaves, unlike most herbs, are at their best when dried, imparting more flavour. The first time I tried to dry bay leaves was a bit of a disaster. I had hung them over the garden railing, in the sun, and they dried to a crisp. Lesson learnt and we took to drying properly in a cool dark place and have been cooking with them ever since.

We began putting together parcels of bay leaves as gifts, making little envelopes to put them in and including recipes to give more reasons to use them.

One of our favourite recipes is Rachel Koo’s Boeuf Bourguignon. I have made many a variation on this classic French dish, but hers is one of the best to be found. And then I came across a recipe for Bay Leaf Beet Soup, when I was on the search for more things  to do with our garden beets. We also offer a tasty Bay Leaf Mackerel recipe and one for Bay Leaf Rice Pudding, to show what variety you can have with bay leaves.

Bay leaves is one of those herbs you don’t buy often, but we also believe is underutilised (especially since we have 3 large bay leaves to put to use!). Our bay leaves come as a gift pack that you can keep for yourself of give as a gift. They come in a pretty upcycled envelope, which can be re-used as an ordinary envelope to post a letter. This envelope in turn holds a waxed/baking paper envelope with the leaves inside. A recipe, of your choosing, comes as a ‘letter’ and part of the parcel.A lovely and unique, petite garden gift for the foodie, or really, anyone who likes to cook. Our Bay Leaf Gift Parcel is available in our store.

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