The herb is astringent and stimulant and emetic in large doses. A decoction is good as a gargle for chronic inflammation and is an excellent wash for the gums.
Culinarily the leaves can be used dried as in traditional bay leaves. In that case harvest them in the fall when they've matured and turned leathery. Leave them to dry completely and their flavor will intensify. I use them in soups and stews all winter long. In season I like to chop them up fresh and use them to season pork and chicken. I haven't had a chance to see what they do in vodka yet but I'll be trying that soon. I hear they did wonders in a bottle of gin according to Edible Manhattan.
My special interest in making botanical colognes got me thinking of using the leaves to try my hand at making Bay Rum. I read many recipes and bought myself a few bottles (most notably Dominca and Ogallala, the reputed best available) and set to work experimenting. Like all of my colognes they are a work in progress and the formulas will be tweaked and improved upon until I find just the right recipe. I made mine with fresh bay leaves, allspice, cinnamon, dried orange zest, vodka and white rum. The scent wasn't quite accurate so I admit to adding a couple of drops of bay essential oil (Pimenta racemosa), the optimal variety of bay leaves used in making Bay Rum.
|My colognes, including Bay Rum.|