I'm supposed to simmer beans with two fresh bay leaves, which I don't have. Should I use one dried one? Keep it at two? Run out and find a bay leaf on a Sunday night?
I'd like to hear other's opinions, but I feel that fresh bay leaves (I have a tree) are a little more powerful than the dried ones, rather than the less (as in most other dried herbs).
My experience with fresh California bay leaves, that a friend brought back to me from a backpacking trip is that they are MUCH more pungent than dried. I'd suggest 3 dried as a substitution.
For future reference, I buy them fresh and freeze them. Still more pungent than dried.
Thank you all so much. I'll up my bay leaf quotient instead! (Also thanks for the freezing tip Burnt- do you prepare them in any way first?)
So, I assume we are talking fresh two California bay vs. maybe one Turkish bay leaf? I know some people who would go the other way (agreeing with Queen of Spoons), as California bay can be pretty aromatic. For simmering beans, I think there's a lot of room for variation. I'd go ahead with a couple of dried bay leaves and just try to be aware of what I like for tastes. If at the mid-way point you think the bay flavor is too strong, take out the leaves. Otherwise, leave them in.
I just wrap them in some cling wrap and place them in a zip lock bag. This works well for Kaffir lime leaves too. They keep a couple of months. Fresh lemongrass can sometimes be tricky to find, depending on where you live, so I grind it up very finely in the food processor, put it in a jar, and stick it in the freezer. Whenever I need lemongrass, I just take what I need. Fresh is still best, but frozen is better than dried.
I will definitely keep that in mind! Thanks :)
Along the lines of what Burnt Offerings says, I use curry leaves in Indian recipes and I can never use them up as my grocer sells them as several branches with many leaves. An Indian friend said to freeze them and that works quite well. Bay, Kaffir lime, curry leaves, all have similar structure.
Yes - I forgot to mention curry leaves. I would say though, that with all of these leaves - pluck them from their stems before freezing, and try not to wrap them clumped together, but loosely. Especially the curry leaves, they are a little finer than the others. I try to lay a few on the cling wrap and roll it as I go, laying the leaves down, so I end up with a roll of leaves, if that make sense.
Agree that fresh bay is more potent. It's a pretty simple perennial to grow and a nice addition to an herb garden!
Curry leaves: dry are lousy and frozen a much better alternative, BUT there's a freeze dried version available here that is pretty good. Ditto for a few other herbs (tarragon and dill) which are unrecognizable when dry. Not sure if anyone in the US has started doing this, but it is a pretty good product in a pinch.
For what it's worth, California bay leaves (laurel) are about four times stronger than Mediterranean bay (or Turkish bay, or lauro). But dried versus fresh doesn't really make much of a difference in intensity. Fresh leaves do impart a more subtle flavor. I had a European bay tree myself for awhile which I picked from frequently.