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foraged California bay leaves

California bay leaves are produced from the Umbellularia californica, otherwise known as the California bay tree.

The California bay leaf tree is classified as an evergreen that can be found growing as a tree or shrub. The bay tree produces small pointed leaves 1-3 inches long, that have a medium green color and are paper thin. California bay leaves have an aromatic fragrance and are more pungent than the Laurus nobilis.

Nutritional Value

The California bay leaf offers a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, iron and dietary fiber. The California bay leaf has been used for various medicinal purposes such as inflammation, headache, as an immunity booster and to sooth tooth and stomach aches.

Serving Ideas

The aromatic quality of the California bay leaf is a great seasoning leaf dried or fresh. When braising or boiling vegetables or meats, the California bay leaf will become the backbone of the dishes flavor. The California bay leaf pairs well with fruit dishes, is ideal for adding to stocks and tomato-based dishes.

Ethnic/Cultural Info

The bay leaf throughout history has maintained various symbolic meanings in ancient cultures. It was often given to important dignitaries, athletes and scholars as a symbol of honor, respect or accomplishment.

Geography/History

The California bay leaf tree is native to California and the American Southwest. It is found extensively throughout the coastal range of the Pacific Ocean and the southwest region of Oregon. In the Pacific Northwest the tree is referred to as Oregon Myrtle. The California bay leaf tree can grow up to 80 feet tall and live over one hundred years of age.

Seasons/Availability

The California bay leaf is available year-round and are found growing in temperate and coastal climates.

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