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I have a bay tree, and it's far too big. If I cut it back, I think I'll have around 40 pounds of bay leaves (and I'll still have a bay tree).

It seems like a waste to throw all those bay leaves away.

What can I do with lots of bay leaves? Are there any good recipes that use lots of bay leaves?

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just a note to say my experience of our bay tree is that you can be extremely aggressively about cutting it back (to the extent of just leaving a stump) and it'll be back with a vengeance within a couple of years. so take good note of the answers ... the "problem" over oversupply isn't going to go away! –  Tea Drinker Aug 30 '10 at 22:12
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I wish I had your problem! –  Doug Mar 6 '11 at 22:53
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Regarding Not Constructive flags/votes: I think we can make an exception for this, because even though bay leaves are common in a lot of recipes (especially soups/stews), those recipes tend to only use one or two leaves. To reiterate yossarian's comment on justkt's answer, you'd have to make an impossible amount of soup/stew to use them all. The question of how to use a lot of bay leaves is not easily answered by a recipe search, unless you're running a catering business. –  Aaronut Mar 3 '12 at 21:10
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Make laurel wreaths? –  Joe Apr 29 '13 at 17:20
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not related to cooking, but you can put some between your mattresses to prevent / get rid of flea infection (in case you have a fury friend) –  dnozay Apr 30 '13 at 3:01

11 Answers 11

dry them and sell them at your local market

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Store them and use them to make stock, in soups, as flavors for sauces, and so on.

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You'd have to make an unreal amount of soup to use up 40 pounds of Bay Leaves. I think your answer should be "start a soup company" in order to be a bit more accurate. ;o) –  yossarian Aug 30 '10 at 17:27

A nice thing to do is simply give them away. Last year someone dropped of a big pile of small branches of bay leaves at our child's school, with a "free" sign. You could do something similiar, maybe using your community email list or whatever depending on your personal circumstances. You may have many neighbors who have never experienced how amazing fresh bay leaves can be, and you might even end up with some interesting gifts in return!

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Send them to your friends who live in more northern climes, where bay doesn't grow too well. They will adore you for it. –  Marti Jan 20 at 17:55

Macerate them in Everclear or midrange vodka for a week or so, then add sweetener and dilute to ~40% ABV. This makes a decent digestif, similar in spirit (no pun intended) to Chartreuse. Or mix in a small amount of fresh thyme, lemon balm, lemon verbena, etc, to make it a little more Provencale.

We picked up a bottle of 'Laurus 48' while in Italy a few years ago, and bay laurel is definitely the dominant herb, so this is not just a French idea. I might be able to dig up a recipe...

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Dry the leaves and bundle with cinnamon sticks or other aromatics and make homemade potpourri/culinary gifts for the holidays. What cook wouldn't want a jar full of bay leaves?

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Batter and fry the leaf, add as a garnish to a dessert. (You eat by just biting the batter off of the leaf.)

That or make a wreath.

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Maybe a donation to the local food bank? Herbs and spices and such are not cheap, and I bet there will be plenty of people who would appreciate them.

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Mark Bittman has a recipe for a baked fish with potatoes and bay leaves that uses a lot of bay leaves. It's pretty good. Here's the page out of his cookbook (which is worth buying!): The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, p. 98.

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When I went to Dominica, they would make bay oil with it.

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I've seen a youtube video of people making smoked cheese with bay leaves. They took an empty charcoal grill, put a metal bowl of ice in it (to keep the overall temperature down), and then lit a big pile of dry bay leaves at the bottom with a torch.

Seems like a tasty idea, if you've got the bay leaves to spare.

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Recently I stumbled upon a recipe for pata (Filipino pig's feet) that calls for tons of bay Substituting CHICKEN thighs for the pig's feet made a most incredible dish (Substitute dried lily flower for banana leaf. Lily flower sold at Asian markets.) you may need to triple recipe. Visit http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/paksiw-na-pata-a-la-marketman.

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