Bay leaves come from the sweet bay or laurel tree, known botanically as Laurus nobilis.
The elliptical leaves of both trees are green, glossy, and grow up to 3 inches long. Bay leaves are grown in the Mediterranean region and are a staple in American kitchens. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon.
Bay leaves are pungent and have a sharp, bitter taste.
Selecting and Storing Bay Leaves
Store dried bay leaves in a cool, dark, dry place. If choosing fresh bay leave, select those with good color and a clean, fresh scent and avoid any brown spots or wilted leaves. To keep fresh, refrigerate in a plastic bag filled with air and securely closed. Store in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.