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The laurel is one of the great spices in the kitchen and has a long tradition. In addition to essential oils, the olive-green leaves also contain tannins that provide a bitter taste. This rigidity is lost when drying and the typical aromatic laurel taste emerges. Since it is only given to the food after a long cooking time, the spice is often used to refine stews, soups and sauces, potatoes, rice and strong meat dishes. But vegetarian dishes, chutneys, sour beans and pickled cucumbers also benefit from a hint of laurel.
Since the aroma is very intense, it should be dosed carefully. For a recipe for 4 to 6 people, 2 to 3 sheets are enough. Sometimes half a sheet is enough. Slightly torn it can give off its aroma better. The leaves are not eaten, but removed before serving.
Before the laurel began its triumphal march in the kitchen, the aromatic leaves were famous. According to a Greek legend, the beautiful nymph Daphne turned into a laurel shrub to evade the god Apollo. The latter then put on a laurel wreath for comfort. The plant became a symbol of fame and honored winners at Olympic games, poets and actors.
The evergreen laurel tree (Laurus nobilis) is originally from Asia Minor. Today it is cultivated in many Mediterranean countries, especially in Turkey, and can also be found there wildly. Depending on the location, it can be between 10 and 15 meters high. The plant from the laurel family has leathery, slightly wavy and lanceolate leaves. After harvesting, they are gently dried in the shade to maintain their aroma and color. Prefer stemless, olive green and intact leaves that should be kept airtight, dark and dry. Fresh laurel is rarely found. Incidentally, the spice usually has less flavor. Heike Kreutz, respectively