Herbs - Laurel


Arabic Ghar
Chinese Yueh kuei
Danish Laurbaer
Dutch Laurier
English Sweet laurel, (Sweet) Bay leaf
French Laurier (noble)
German Lorbeer
Italian Alloro, Lauro
Japanese Gekkeiju
Norwegian Laurbaerblad
Portuguese Loureio, Louro
Spanish Laural
Swedish Lager, Lagerbarsblad

Laurel or Ghar in Arabic is a very aromatic and slightly bitter plant. This plant belongs to Lauraceae (laurel family). The part of the plant which is used is the leaves Industrially, laurel oil is prepared from the fruits, which may also be used as a spice. This plant is found in Syria in different places its origin Probably Asia Minor. Today, the laurel tree grows all over the Mediterranean. Syria is one of the main exporters.


Main Constituents

The essential oil from the leaves (0.8 to 3%) contains mostly 1,8 cineol (50%); furthermore, eugenol, acetyl eugenol, methyl eugenol, alpha- and beta-pinene, phellandrene, linalool, geraniol and terpineol are found. The dried fruits contain 0.6 to 10% of essential oil, depending on provenance and storage conditions. Like the leaves, the aroma is mostly due to terpenes (cineol, terpineol, alpha- and beta-pinene, citral), but also cinnamic acid and its methyl ester are reported.

From laurel fruits, a green mass (melting point about 30 degree Celsius) can be extracted, which contains several percent of essential oil (main components are two sesquiterpenoids, costunol and dehydrocostuslacton), but is mainly composed of fat: Triglycerides of lauric acid (dodecanoic acid), myristic acid (tetradecanoic acid) and elaic acid.



It's usage all over the world

Today, bay leaves are a rather common flavoring in all Western countries; they are used for soups, stews, sauces, and sausages; several fish dishes profit greatly from bay leaves. In contrast to the majority of leave spices, bay leaves can be cooked for several times without much aroma loss.

Fresh or dried bay leaves frequently show up in bouquet garni Fresh bay leaves are very strongly aromatic, but also quite bitter by an appropriate drying procedure, bitterness is significantly reduced without dramatically loss of aroma: After manual plucking and sorting, the leaves are quickly dried without exposure to sunlight. High-quality bay leaves are easily recognized not only by their strong aroma, but also by their bright green colour.

Arule of thumb holds: The greener the colour, the better the quality. Bay leaves cannot, however, be stored as long as their tough texture might suggest, but should not be kept more than one year after plucking. Overage leaves have lost their fragrance, show a brownish hue and taste mostly bitter. The laurel fruits are less known, although they appear as part of commercial spice mixtures. Because of their robust taste, they fit best to tasty sauces and gravies.

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