Bay leaves safe to eat?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by TerryJ2, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    We have a bay tree next to the porch. The leaves smell heavenly. How do I know if this is the kind of bay where you can toss a leaf or two into beef stew for flavor, or if I'm going to die of bay poisoning?
  2. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Bay poisoning??? Are you serious?? You might get a run of diahrea, but bay poisoning??? Take the risk. Take one for the team and let us know how it comes out...literally.

  3. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    My mom used to use full bay leaves to flavor stuff but would not let us eat it. She would take the leaf out before we ate.

  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    If there's a poisonous kind of bay tree, I've never heard of it!

    I was always told to take the bay leaves out if you use them in soups or stews. But that's because the spines of the dried ones you buy in the grocery store remain very stiff and hard even after cooking, like a sharp little twig, and could possibly hurt your mouth or throat if you tried to eat them. I don't know how it would be to use the fresh leaves when you're cooking ... probably very good! I'd still take them out before serving the food though, just to be on the safe side.
  5. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Donna's right. We take dried bay leaves out of food because they stay stiff and are somewhat dangerous to swallow. You can buy ground bay leaf which is safe to eat.

    From Wiki, where the idea that bay leaves are poisonous came from:

    "Mountain laurel leaves are poisonous to certain livestock and are not sold anywhere as a culinary herb (Britannica). This has led to the mistaken belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they might poison humans. Bay leaves are safe to eat, however, a person may accidentally swallow a leaf, and the leaves remain stiff even after several hours of cooking. This sometimes causes cutting of the larynx and should be avoided."

    Bay leaves come from a number of plants in the laural family, but not mountain laural.

    So the problem to be solved is what kind of laural tree you have and is it one of the types that is used as bay leaf? Wiki has some pictures....
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I use bay leaves in my homemade veggie soup. Mmmmmmmmmmm, heaven. But I remove the leaves because they do stay tough.
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Dang. Imagine the headline. WOMAN DIES FROM SWALLOWING A BAY LEAF. News at 10.

  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member


    All right, I'll try it. You'll all be the first to know!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I just posted about this on the basil thread. I had wondered where the idea came from that bay is dangerous.

    I put a lot of bay leaves in my cooking and sometimes one slips past me and someone chews on it accidentally. It tastes strong and is very fibrous, but otherwise isn't poisonous.

    I said on the other thread - bay leaves contain so much oil that they don't go mouldy. Lemon verbena is another herb you can just shove into a cupboard somewhere while freshly cut and it won't go mouldy.

    I use bay leaves fresh from the tree, or dried. The younger shoots are the ones to grind when dry, they're tender enough.

    If you have a bay tree in your backyard, you should have plenty of friends - cooks love to get access to the fresh bay leaves!

  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    And to think how many yrs that tree has gone to waste ...

    by the way, we had mountain laurel for a few yrs and it was very different from this tree. This never flowers and it's taller, and the leaves are fragrant. The other was gorgeous but had no scent.
  11. Calgon_Take_Me_Away

    Calgon_Take_Me_Away New Member

    Enjoy your new fresh "spice"!

    My mother in law uses Bay Leaves in sausage & lentils (Danish meal that has a lot to be desired lol) but takes the leaves out before serving.
  12. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I think I need reading glasses.

    At first glance, I thought your post said "boy leaves safe to cat". I thought, OK, some kid passed away and willed his safe to his kitty...
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I hope the cat knows the combination... but what is the cat going to do with several incomplete sets of baseball cards and a box of Matchbox cars, most with either wheels missing or bent axles?