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Characteristics: With beautiful, broad, glossy leaves, Bay is easy to grow and has a history like no other herb. Click here to learn more!
Light: Bay plants benefit from full sun and warm humid summers.
Water: Drought tolerant, but water when soil is dry to the touch. Let soil dry between watering to prevent waterlogged soil.
Soil: Bay requires well-drained soil of good quality. Feed with organic fish emulsion in the spring or mid-summer if potted or mix organic compost into the soil if planted outdoors to ensure a healthy plant.
Use: A must-have culinary herb, Bay is used in soups, stews, and other slow-cooked dishes.
Extras: Sweet bay is native to the Mediterranean. It is only marginally hardy to zone 7; therefore most North Americans find it necessary to grow bay in pots and winter them over indoors on cool, sunny porches. Avoid winter temperatures below 38 degrees. As new leaves form in the spring, older leaves normally turn yellow and drop.
Repot every 2-3 years to discourage pot-bound plants.
Bay leaves can be used both fresh and dried, however we find the fresh to be a bit bitter. So, when using freshly harvested leaves, we recommend letting the leaves sit out for at least 12 to 24 hours. The drying process reduces this bitterness and really helps enhance the flavor - Sweet bay has been described as pine-flavored or a bit 'woodsy'. Think of a cooler camphor aroma, almost like nutmeg or clove. It is an essential ingredient in a hearty stew or roast, and always use your Bay leaves whole.
As long as you have the right conditions for air drying (warm, dry and no humidity), we recommend this method for bay leaves. All you need to do is hang the stems in small bundles (which only works if you have a very large Bay Tree) or lay them on clean surface and allow to dry for 24 to 48 hours. At that point, they need to be sealed in an airtight container and stored in a dark dry place - with all of your other herbs. Use them for up to a year, then discard any remaining leaves.