Food - Drink
The Easy Way To Check If Bay Leaves Are Fresh Enough To Bother Using
By MATTHEW SPINA
Many of us have followed soup or sauce recipes that call for a bay leaf, and you may wonder if a single leaf makes a difference or not. While it’s true that bay leaves aren’t the most flavorful things in the world, even when fresh, they do have worthwhile uses — unless you're hanging on to old, dusty leaves that are far past their prime.
It can be hard to remember when you bought the dried bay leaves sitting in your cupboard, but smelling them is the best freshness test: simply snap a leaf in half and sniff for a distinct, pleasant floral smell. If you barely smell anything, it's time to buy a new bottle, because your current bay leaves are too old to be of any use.
As for whether this herb matters or not, bay leaves have a scent and flavor reminiscent of eucalyptus, which adds a more complex flavor and helps to balance out the richness of sauces, soups, and stews. If bay leaves get too old, their delicate flavor will be completely lost, and they really do become useless.